I read the Drudge Report several times a day. I also consider myself fairly well-educated. So why would I waste time on a gossip reporter who admittedly gets the story wrong about 20% of the time?

Maybe it's because I'm not so sure the "mainstream" media is any better. The press is made up of fallible people with personal opinions. Sure, there are checks and balances, but no amount of calibrating the scales can elimiate the humanity of the news. What is objectivity? By merely reporting something, you declare it important. You plant a seed in your audience's mind. And what does the mainstream consider important? Economic statistics? Pearl Harbor's box office revenue? Some wonderdrug killing 30% of cancer in rats? Meg Ryan banging Russell Crowe behind her husband's back? I am not very concerned with these things. They are vague facts, white noise with questionable impact on my life. Numbers. I am concerned with flow, movements and trends, the unexplainable, the important stuff the AP misses because it never thought to look, what people are saying, and who's saying it. Drudge provides me with these things. More often than not, it's not even him reporting it; he just points out something interesting on another website that no one's noticed yet.

Maybe it's because he's so damn fast. The price of accuracy is speed. If you don't read Drudge, I know the news before you. When big media breaks news, it's either because it's hit the wire, or because they've just finished up an investigation. The juicier stories are always the latter -- that's the heart of "journalism". However, these investigations take time. Sure, at the end of six months, you get a complete and perfectly accurate story. But what if I don't want all those details? What if I don't want to wait? What if it's irrelevant in six months? I'd rather have the basic gist of a story now. Give me the meat; I'm not going to hold up the whole meal for the potatoes. News organizations lose their advantage if they blow the cover on their story before it goes to press.

But Drudge blows the cover for them.

No wonder those in the media are so quick to brush him off as an "unrealiable source" and "yellow journalist". They're pissed off one guy with a shitty computer and a 24 kilobyte web page is stealing stories from their multibillion dollar business! He reports on reporters, covers the coverage. How the media shrinks from the spotlight once the tables are turned and it becomes the subject of investigations and daily analysis! Press return. CNN, ABC, NewsCorp, AP, Reuters, Newsweek, Salon... you've been scooped! And just when you had your story timed for maximum profit!

The site itself is fast. Plain text. White background. No bullshit. The links are voluminous and pertinent. Perhaps Drudge isn't a great journalist, but his page has links to everyone who you think is one. All the news-makers and news-breakers are a click away. No sifting through ad-laden, 7th-grade-level websites. No going to 46 bloated websites instead of one slim one. For this reason alone, the politicians who love to hate Drudge, the ones who refuse to answer questions about anything on Drudge's site, visit him every day. Insidious, to put such a wealth of real-live information in what every politician with a bone-filled closet calls a slanderous tabloid.

So does this answer why I waste time on a "gossip" reporter who admittedly gets the story wrong about 20% of the time? Hmmm. Maybe it's just because of the 80% of the time that fucker's right on the money. If the AP was wrong 20% of the time, would we know?

Best of all, Drudge forces me to question what I read. Which is what everyone should be doing anyway.


(By the way, Drudge is no longer on NewsCorps' payroll... there was a big dispute over FOX not letting him show a picture of a live fetus, and his TV show came to a quick end. He is on the payroll of ABC, due to his crappy late-night radio show. However, this doesn't seem to affect his reporting. Rupert Murdoch and ABC/Disney are, and always have been, two of his biggest "targets".)

Matt Drudge is the only reporter ever to be sued by the White House.

Matt Drudge is the creator and operator of the superlatively successful website the Drudge Report. Matt was born in 1967 to Bob and Claire Drudge. They divorced six years later, and Matt stayed with his mother in Washington, D.C. (His father Bob is now the editor of www.refdesk.com, and it was Bob who bought Matt his first computer.) Matt did poorly in school (a self-described "D student") graduating in the class of '84. After some time as a clerk at the local 7-Eleven at the age of 22 Matt went west. During a stint as clerk for CBS's gift shop (in 1994) Matt started the e-mail newsletter, later website, called the Drudge Report. In 1997 Matt was sued by White House presidential aide Sidney Blumenthal for defamation of character, relating to a false story Drudge published and later retracted. The suit was eventually settled out of court. Today Matt Drudge is the world's most famous reporter.

Modus operandi

Matt Drudge's philosophy is simple, as summarized in The Drudge Manifesto: Modem, phone jack, inexpensive computer. Anything from anywhere out to everyone.

Matt Drudge published all the news that's newsworthy on his site the Drudge Report. Primarily containing links to breaking news stories, the Drudge Report is an excellent central locus of present events. In addition, the site provides links to all major media columnists, press wires, and other Internet resources. And whenever Drudge gets the inside scoop, up go the sirens announcing an exclusive Drudge Report.

Matt Drudge seems to be (though it is difficult to pin down) a fairly conservative person. This is difficult to see on the Drudge Report itself (where he rarely, if ever, editorializes a story) but more clear on his weekly radio show. In addition, close inspection reveals a conservative bias in his headlines and links, which generally have a "right-wing" slant to them. This does not, however, mean that Drudge shrinks from reporting the blunders of certain Republican presidencies. Some media-mangates even favor Drudge's right-wing style as giving balance to a generally liberal press.

Perverse Continuity

In 1994, Matt Drudge discovered how to post articles to UseNet groups. The world has never been the same since.

The Drudge Report was originally a daily update of news and rumors compiled by Matt Drudge. Sent via e-mail and posted to newsgroups on UseNet, its readers formed what would become the core of Drudge's readership and sources when in 1997 he created the website The Drudge Report at www.drudgereport.com. After slowly growing fame in media circles, Drudge was catapulted into the spotlight when he exclusively broke the story of President Clinton's indiscretions with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. Since then Drudge's site has become the prime news source of the Internet, even prompting Eric Alterman to state that the conservative Drudge "rules the Internet." While no one rules the Internet, the Drudge Report is the home page for not a few of the world's billions.

"Damn I'm Good"

Matt Drudge has accumulated what could be regarded as quite a list of newsmaking accomplishments in his 9-year career. These include breaking a number of important stories before any other news sources. In no particular order:

  1. Formation of MSNBC
  2. Jerry Seinfeld's Million-dollar Deal
  3. Death of Princess Diana
  4. Clinton Takes Paula Jones Fight to Supreme Court
  5. Al Gore's Kyoto Conference Trip
  6. The Monica Lewinsky Scandal

And many others. The Drudge Report is also the most visited site on the Internet, clocking over 1.2 billion hits in the past year (March 2002-March 2003.) Drudge also hosts a radio show on WABC every Sunday night, from 10 P.M. to 1 A.M. E.T. Finally, Drudge has published a book, entitled The Drudge Manifesto which recounts the rise of his Report and his adventures through the early years.

Matt Drudge has gained a certain notoriety among the members of the political and media establishments. This is reflected in a selection of quotes on the back of The Drudge Manifesto's dust jacket:

"The country's reigning mischief-maker." — New York Times
"He is to the Internet what I am to broadcasting." — Rush Limbaugh
"The buzz of the media-industrial complex." — Washington Post
"The kind of bold, entrepreneurial, free-wheeling, information-oriented outsider we need far more of in this country." — Camille Paglia
"Journalism's bad boy, Clinton's worst nightmare." — Playboy
"The most controversial reporter in America since Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein." — Brill's Content
"Sludge." — Former President William Jefferson Clinton

Sources

Drudge, Matt, with Julia Phillips. The Drudge Manifesto. New York: Penguin Putnam, 2000.

Billingsley, K.L. Free Matt Drudge! http://www.cspc.org/drudge/freematt.htm: Heterodoxy. Accessed 03/16/03.

Matt Drudge's remarks to the National Press Club: June 2, 1998. (Transcript from The Drudge Manifesto.)

Personal observation and analysis.

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