"If we're again faced with corporations who don't want to report real news the Internet will play a very valuable road in the underground catching real stories that are being spiked . . . We're now in a totally new era where information is information. You just really have to set your own threshold in what you believe in, where you go for information. Because again, because you're getting it from an established source doesn't mean it's true."
--Matt Drudge, in a Nov., 2007, broadcast interview with Sky Television's Anna Botting.
Photo Linked From: http://static.sky.com/images/pictures/1613555.jpg
Profile by Ashley Coulombe
READ TRANSCRIPT OF SKY TV DRUDGE INTERVIEW
Matt Drudge has been called everything from an "Internet legend" to "an idiot with a modem." The creator of the highly popular Drudge Report (drudgereport.com), is credited with breaking the Monica Lewinsky scandal of the Clinton administration.
Through drudgereport.com, Drudge broke new ground in Internet weblogging before anyone really knew what weblogging was. While giving new meaning to the term citizen journalist, his work has and continues to raise questions of what exactly constitutes a journalist.
Looking at Drudge's education and career-path prior to his creation of the Drudge Report, it would have been difficult to guess he'd become one of the most influential figures in international news media today. The Maryland native graduated 341st out of his high school class of 355, and admits in his 2000 book "Drudge Manifesto," that it was "more than adequate curriculum vitae for a post at 7-Eleven."
After working at the convenience store, and moving to Los Angeles, Drudge became a runner for CBS studios before working in the studio gift shop. Proving that no job goes to waste, Drudge was able to use all of the gossip he heard while working at CBS, as well as go through the trash and collecting advance ratings and rumors alike to post online beginning in 1994.
Originally, Drudge circulated his information through email before posting everything to his website in 1996. Then, the website had about 80,000 hits a day, but that number quickly multiplied when Matt Drudge became the first person to break the news that President Bill Clinton was having an affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.
Newsweek had passed on the story that Drudge posted on his Report in early January 1998. He got the information from an email someone sent him. The Washington Post was the first to break the story into print media, although only after Drudge had all ready done so on his website.
Soon, DrudgeReport.com was getting hundreds of thousands, and eventually millions, of hits a day, and the former convenience store clerk became one of the most controversial and influential journalists, whether the rest of the media world liked it or not.
As the breaking of the Monica Lewinsky scandal approaches its 10th anniversary, everyone's still wondering what to do with Matt Drudge. The mainstream media has been forced to follow his lead on various occasions, as Drudge sits at his laptop constantly updating, linking to various news websites, and dragging stories up from the debris to make top news stories, sometimes propelling them onto front pages and blogs all over the country.
"Sometimes I find myself updating hundreds of times a day, hundreds of times a day," said Matt Drudge during a 2007 interview on SKY News. When asked of the secret to a good news website he replied, "To be completely live, almost as if you are animated with text; I've been doing it for almost 13 years and I've learned how to pace myself because there are no time zones anymore."
Drudge will be one of the first to admit that we are living in a new age of journalism, and he's happy to be a part of it.
"For the first time in the history of communication, you don't have to live in a corporate 'newsroom' for access to instant information," he wrote in his book. "With a modem, a phone jack, and an inexpensive computer, your newsroom can be your living room, your bedroom ... your bathroom, if you're so inclined. You can take on the Big Boys between flushes. As they debate, edit, rewrite, fix 'n' figure what the real slant is, you've reported it and graduated it. Dished it, dismissed it, and moved it."
The only problem Drudge really faces as he works as researcher, reporter, editor, and owner all at once is checking his own sources and making sure he gets the story straight, an issue he has dealt with several times and has been a main cause for other journalists to question his credibility (even though they still continue to take note of the stories he posts online).
"You really have to get to know where you're getting you information, but this also applies to corporate broadcast. We've had tremendous disasters on CNN, and BBC, and retractions, the New York Times made up stories," said Drudge on SKY. "So who do you trust at any level? It just comes with what you are familiar with and you have to read a lot of varied sources is what I do. In the course of a day I read 20 to 30 newspapers because you want to get different shades."
And nobody understands better then Drudge how important the Internet has become, as well as the role that it plays in the mainstream media.
"Back in the last Clinton administration, during Lewinsky, for instance, which I had to break on the internet because the other people wouldn't, if we're again faced with corporations who don't want to report real news the internet will play a very valuable road in the underground catching real stories that are being spiked," said Drudge on SKY.
One thing is for certain; Matt Drudge and the Drudge Report aren't going anywhere and will most likely remain a mainstay in American and International media. The Drudge Report is now receiving over 18 million hits daily, (Drudge says that about 3 million unique daily users) and Drudge is doing his best to keep it "interesting."
He writes in Drudge Manifesto, "This is the most exciting moment in the history of News. Anyone from anywhere can cover anything. And send it out to everyone. If I'm not interesting, the world's not interesting. If the DRUDGE REPORT is boring, the world is boring."
OTHER VIEWS OF MATT DRUDGEPrize-winning editorialist Don Surber of the Charleston [W. Va.] Daily mail described the origins of Matt Drudge this way in a Dec. 22, 2007 column:
"On Jan. 26, 1998, President Bill Clinton wagged his finger and told a press conference: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." Thus began one of the most entertaining years in American politics. The lasting effect is what the scandal (readers may choose the adjective) did to the American press corps.
"Overnight, a then-31-year-old former gift-shop clerk at CBS became the most important man in American journalism. His Internet site averaged 85,000 unique visitors a day in 1997. On Monday, 18.3 million people visited his site. That is more than all the people who watched ABC, CBS and NBC news combined that night. Not since the famous Walter Winchell has a gossip held as much sway in America."
EDITOR'S NOTE -- Drudge says he gets about three million unique visitors per day -- the 18 million figure cited above is probably "page views."
The British Sky Television satellite network said in November 2007 that it Matt Drudge appeared "in his first interview in four years." Read a TRANSCRIPT of the interview.
Here's how Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz described the effect of Druge in the April 11, 2005 article, "Drudge at 10: Now He's Fun"
"As he approaches his 10th anniversary as an online clearinghouse for
forthcoming news stories, unreleased books, tabloid yarns, Hollywood
chatter and unconfirmed -- sometimes bogus -- rumors, Drudge, 38, is now treated more as an amusing diversion than a threat to journalistic
integrity. The white-hot debate these days is over the role of bloggers,
whom Drudge says dismissively he doesn't bother reading."