Why Tiger Woods Is the First Internet-Scale Scandal

After three relentless weeks, the Tiger Woods scandal looks infinite. (The disgraces continue as we speak.) That's hardly because Woods' philandering was unprecedented. No, it was just perfect for internet exploitation.

Why Tiger Woods Is the First Internet-Scale Scandal

Think about it: The cast of this narrative-less saga now includes Woods, his wife Elin, her mother, and of course the more than 10 mistresses, each one with her own, growing internet dossier. We tried keeping up on our site but sort of gave up after trying to sort through the daily, disconnected crush of info and bits. (See: TMZ or anywhere else on the web. The internet may be groaning under the hourly tick-tock of Woods' life and lies unravelling, and the photos, audio and videos, but it's also only the web — not just technologically, but also the newish ecosystem of news and gossip sites that are eager to turn every bit of this story into traffic gold — that could handle the Tiger Woods story.

Sure, it all started in print, with a National Enquirer story on Tiger's "Cheating Scandal." But Woods' disgrace immediately mushroomed into something so huge and fast-changing that it became impossible for magazines or even daily tabloids to keep up. The Enquirer article precipitated a fight between Woods and his wife; then a car "accident;" then the truth about said accident; then an apology, a torrent of new mistresses; another apology, etc. etc. etc.

Why Tiger Woods Is the First Internet-Scale Scandal

The volume of information grew exponentially, as each new skank became the nexus for loads of new information and media. (And photo galleries!) Rachel Uchitel, the original "mistress," remains the biggest of these sub-stories, with rumors about how she ran a sort of ad-hoc brothel for Woods; that she dated him; that she was going to reverse her denial of the affair; that she didn't because she'd been paid off by a magazine; and on and on.

Why Tiger Woods Is the First Internet-Scale Scandal

But the other women have generated plenty of news, too, from the second madam (no one thinks he actually boned her, we were eventually informed) to the onetime stripper (she didn't immediately disclose this past occupation, outrageous!) to the porn star (who wouldn't deny the affair) to the Butter hostess (she got hotel suites) to the friggin' Perkins waitress (who Tiger supposedly had sex with in a church parking lot; who Tiger liked to spank; who Tiger called "rag doll;" who Tiger liked to... you get the idea).

Then there was news about Tiger's rapidly disappearing endorsements; about his marriage; his exit from golf. Even if you wanted to try and cram all these different threads of news and gossip and speculation and debunking into a celebrity weekly every week, you couldn't. Which is what make the degenerate ecosystem of Woods news something special: It was sprawling, it was deep, it unfolded over a long period of time. It was too big to fit anywhere but online.

The Web had a bonanza with the Eliot Spitzer scandal, too, but after the initial news, tearful apology and quick orgy of Ashley Dupre photos, the news quickly dried up. Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky broke in a uniquely internetty fashion, when Web gossip Matt Drudge ran the story Newsweek refused to touch. The subsequent coverage was, indeed, endless. It was also about just one woman who wasn't saying much, and then about one political fight. Each revelation was tidy enough to fit in a sliver of the daily newspaper and to comprehensively summarize in a weekly magazine.

Tiger Woods' apparently voracious sexual appetite created a scandal big enough to truly feed, and even sate, the ever-hungry Web. It's been an uninhibited bacchanal of mistress galleries, trashy YouTube embeds and gossip scooplets. So if the Tiger Woods coverage leaves you feeling exhausted, it's because the celebrity sausage factory has been running at an obscenely and unprecedentedly fast tilt. As with Christmas dinner, you might as well try and enjoy the feast, no matter what you think of the company. Because you'll have to do the whole thing again soon.