Matthew Nathan Drudge
October 27, 1966
Takoma Park, Maryland, U.S.
|Occupation||Political commentator, news editor|
|Known for||Reporting political scandals, creating the Drudge Report|
Matthew Nathan Drudge (born October 27, 1966) is an American political commentator and the creator/editor of the Drudge Report, an American news aggregator. Drudge is also an author and a former radio and television show host.
Early life and education
Matthew Drudge was raised in Takoma Park, Maryland, near Washington, D.C. His parents follow Reform Judaism. Both are Democrats who worked for the federal government, and he is their only child. His father, Robert Drudge, a former social worker who founded the reference site refdesk.com and owned that site until selling it in 2017, and his mother, a former staff attorney for U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, divorced when he was six. Drudge went to live with his mother. He had few friends and was an avid news reader and radio talk show fan. Drudge graduated 325th out of a high school class of 350. In his book Drudge Manifesto, Drudge says that he "failed his Bar Mitzvah",[failed verification] giving himself, in his words, a "more than adequate curriculum vitae for a post at 7-Eleven".
Drudge was unknown before he began the news aggregation site, the Drudge Report. For many years, he took odd jobs such as night counterman at a 7-Eleven convenience store, telemarketer for Time-Life books, McDonald's manager, and sales assistant at a New York City grocery store. In 1989, he moved to Los Angeles, where he took up residence in a small Hollywood apartment. He took a job in the gift shop of CBS studios, eventually working his way up to manager. Here, he was apparently privy to some inside gossip, part of the inspiration for founding the Drudge Report. Worried about his son's aimlessness, Drudge's father insisted on buying him a Packard Bell computer in 1994. The Drudge Report began as email notes sent out to a few friends.
The original issues were part gossip and part opinion. They were distributed as an email newsletter and posted to alt.showbiz.gossip Usenet forum. In 1996, the newsletter transitioned slowly from entertainment gossip to political gossip and moved from email to the Web as its primary distribution mechanism.
In March 1995, the Drudge Report had 1,000 email subscribers; by 1997, Drudge had 85,000 subscribers to his email service. Drudge's website gained in popularity in the late 1990s after a number of stories which he reported before the mainstream media. Drudge first received national attention in 1996 when he broke the news that Jack Kemp would be Republican Bob Dole's running mate in the 1996 presidential election. In 1998, he gained popularity when he published the reporting of then-Newsweek reporter Michael Issikoff, becoming the first media outlet to publish the news that later became the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Drudge met Andrew Breitbart in Los Angeles during the 1990s and became his mentor, with Breitbart later helping to run the Drudge Report. Breitbart announced in 2005 that he was "amicably leaving the Drudge Report after a long and close working relationship with Matt Drudge", but still helped run Drudge's website from Los Angeles by working the afternoon shift, in addition to running Breitbart.
A story by Business 2.0 magazine from April 2003 estimated that Drudge's website received $3,500 a day (almost $1.3 million a year) in advertising revenues. Subtracting his relatively minor server costs, the magazine estimated that the Drudge Report website netted $800,000 a year. An article in The Miami Herald from September 2003 said that Drudge estimated he earns $1.2 million a year from his website and radio show. During an April 30, 2004 appearance on C-SPAN, he confirmed that he earns over $1 million.
For many years, Drudge was based out of his one-bedroom apartment in Hollywood. Today, he maintains the website from his two properties in Miami, Florida. In updating the site, he reportedly monitors multiple television news channels and a number of websites on several computers in his home office.
Fox News television show
From June 1998 to November 1999, Drudge hosted a Saturday night television show called Drudge on the Fox News Channel. The show ended by joint consent. Drudge had refused to go on air, charging Fox News with censorship when the network prevented him from showing photos of surgery on Samuel Armas. Drudge, who is pro-life, wanted to use a picture of a tiny hand reaching out from the womb to dramatize his argument against late-term abortion, but Fox's John Moody decided that that would be misleading because the photo was not of an abortion but an emergency operation on the fetus for spina bifida. Fox News alleged breach of contract but, after Drudge issued an apology, Fox issued a statement calling the parting "amicable".
Radio talk show
Drudge hosted a Sunday night talk radio show – "the only time anyone will let me on the air", he claimed. The show, which was also named the Drudge Report, was syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks. He guest hosted for the conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. Drudge gained notice in the early 2000s by becoming a frequent reference for news material on Limbaugh's, Sean Hannity's, and Mark Levin's radio shows. He was often acknowledged by Michael Savage as a source of topics for The Savage Nation. Lynn Samuels, for a time, served as Drudge's call screener.
Drudge left his position as radio host with Premiere effective September 30, 2007. He was replaced by Cincinnati radio station WLW's Bill Cunningham on the network and in most markets, though in a few larger markets, John Batchelor replaced him instead.
The Drudge Revolution: The Inside Story of How Talk Radio, Fox News, and a Gift Shop Clerk with an Internet Connection Took Down the Mainstream Media was published on July 28, 2020. In the book, author and investigative journalist Matthew Lysiak interviews more than 200 former friends and associates, including former Drudge Report editor Joseph Curl, to reveal the first inside look at Drudge and his website.
Drudge wrote a book with Julia Phillips in 2000 titled Drudge Manifesto, which reached the New York Times Best Seller list. The book features a transcript of a Q&A session conducted at the National Press Club on June 2, 1998, which lays out Drudge's raison d'être. It also contains copies of emails sent to Drudge by his readers, dialogues between Drudge and his cat, and extensive descriptions of parties Drudge has attended and how the celebrities there reacted to him. A review in the Washington Post said: "Indeed, while Drudge Manifesto runs 247 pages ... Which leaves, in the end, 112 pages of new material, including nine pages of poetry." A review from the Columbia Journalism Review stated: "By any standard, Drudge's book is padded", and: "It is a weird, stream-of-conscious mixture of telling readers how he got his stories and mocking his critics."
In the 2020 book Drudge Revolution, author Matthew Lysiak describes how every major presidential campaign dating back to the late 90s had a staffer whose responsibility was to make a connection and potentially influence Drudge. Ahead of the 2008 Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton communication director Tracy Sefl befriended Drudge, a relationship which she describes in the book as "scary" due to the power of the Drudge Report.
In their 2006 book The Way to Win, Mark Halperin and John Harris report that Republican National Convention chairman Ken Mehlman "kind of brags" (as then-CNN host Howard Kurtz put it) about utilizing the Drudge channel. They also wrote that "Drudge, with his droll Dickensian name, was not the only media or political agent whose actions led to John Kerry's defeat. But his role placed him at the center of the game."
In 2006, Time named Drudge one of the 100 most influential people in the world, describing the Drudge Report as "a ludicrous combination of gossip, political intrigue and extreme weather reports ... still put together mostly by the guy who started out as a convenience-store clerk."
ABC News concluded that the Drudge Report sets the tone for national political coverage. The article says "Republican operatives keep an open line to Drudge, often using him to attack their opponents."
On October 22, 2007, New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg wrote that Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton, were cooperating with Drudge and "working harder than ever to get favorable coverage for their candidates – or unfavorable coverage of competitors – onto the Drudge Report's home page, knowing that television producers, radio talk show hosts and newspaper reporters view it as a bulletin board for the latest news and gossip." Rutenberg stated that Nielsen/NetRatings show that the Drudge Report gets three million unique visitors over the course of a month, or approximately one percent of the population of the United States.
Drudge's relationships have always been with older men. He was a regular at gay clubs in Washington, D.C. when he was a teenager.
Drudge previously lived in Hollywood, California. As of 2007, he owned two properties in Miami, Florida – a $1.4 million Mediterranean-style stucco house on Rivo Alto Island and a $1 million-plus condominium in Miami's Four Seasons hotel. By early 2009, Drudge earned millions of dollars a year, traveled extensively, and moved to another property in Miami and had become reclusive. In 2003, he said his one indulgence, apart from travel, was his Corvette.
–The Drudge Report, Matt Drudge, on reaching one billion page views, 2002
The Daily Telegraph has described Drudge as a conservative populist. In 1998, Drudge claimed that his politics are "libertarian except for drugs and abortion". In 2001, he told the Miami New Times: "I am a conservative. I'm very much pro-life. If you go down the list of what makes up a conservative, I'm there almost all the way." In 2002, he described himself as "Free from any Corporate Concerns". In a 2005 interview with The Sunday Times, Drudge described his politics: "I'm not a right-wing Republican. I'm a conservative and want to pay less taxes. And I did vote Republican at the last election. But I'm more of a populist."
Comments by journalists
Drudge has been called "the Walter Cronkite of his era" by Mark Halperin and John F. Harris, and "the country's reigning mischief-maker" by Todd Purdum of The New York Times. Michael Isikoff of Newsweek said "Drudge is a menace to honest, responsible journalism. And to the extent that he's read and people believe what they read, he's dangerous." According to Camille Paglia, he is "the kind of bold, entrepreneurial, free-wheeling, information-oriented outsider we need far more of in this country." David McClintick described him as "a modern Tom Paine, a possible precursor to millions of town criers using the Internet to invade the turf of bigfoot journalists."
- Rasmussen Reports (2019). "Matt Drudge May No Longer Be Editor of Drudge Report". Retrieved December 8, 2019 – via Twitter.
- Matt Drudge and Julia Phillips (2000). "Drudge Manifesto, Chapter one online". The Denver Post. Retrieved March 2, 2007.
- Kurtz, Howard (1999). "It's 10 past Monica, America. Do you know where Matt Drudge is?". The Washington Post. WNN Archives. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved December 15, 2006.
- Cohen, Daniel (2000). Yellow Journalism. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 99. ISBN 0761315020.
- Siklos, Richard (June 6, 2008). "The Web 2.0-defying logic of Drudge". CNN. Retrieved June 28, 2008.
- Pachter, Richard (August 29, 2003). "Article: Matt Drudge finds Internet success". AccessMyLibrary. Retrieved November 24, 2009.
- Sappell, Joel (August 4, 2007). "Hot links served up daily". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 11, 2008. Retrieved August 4, 2007.
- Sandoval, Greg (November 30, 2005). "Breitbart.com has Drudge to thank for its success". cnet news. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. Retrieved August 7, 2007.
- Breitbart, Andrew (April 26, 2005). "April 26, 2005: Breitbart Statement". Archived from the original on October 12, 2006. Retrieved August 7, 2007.
- "Lists: What's Your Source for That? Where Andrew Breitbart gets his information". ReasonOnline.com. Retrieved October 1, 2008.
- "Andrew Breitbart: Drudge's Human Face". Gawker.com. Archived from the original on September 9, 2008. Retrieved September 10, 2008.
- Keighley, Geoff (April 1, 2003). "The Secrets of Drudge Inc. How to set up a round-the-clock news site on a shoestring, bring in $3,500 a day, and still have time to lounge on the beach". CNNMoney.com. Retrieved October 1, 2006.
- Sherman, Gabriel. "Underground Man". The New Republic. Retrieved April 22, 2009.
One source relays that, these days, the only media figures he talks to regularly are a select group that includes Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Andrew Breitbart ... Drudge now lives at another property in Miami.
- Kurtz, Howard (November 15, 1999). "The Going Gets Tough, and Matt Drudge Gets Going". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 29, 2007.
- "Photo Drudges Up Cries of Doubles Standard". National Catholic Register. 1999. Retrieved July 29, 2007.
- Kiesewetter, John. Cunningham Goes National. Cincinnati Enquirer. September 5, 2007.
- New York Times Best Seller List October 29, 2000
- Drudge, Matt (September 5, 2001). Drudge Manifesto. NAL Trade. ISBN 978-0-451-20491-2.
- Beato, Greg (October 9, 2000). "Drudge Manifesto". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 9, 2007.
- G. Beato (October 9, 2000). "Drudge Manifesto review". Retrieved August 9, 2007.
- "CNN Reliable Sources: Coverage of the Mark Foley Scandal". CNN. October 15, 2006. Retrieved August 5, 2007.
- Halpernin, Mark; Harris, John F. (October 2006). The Way to Win. Random House. ISBN 1-4000-6447-3.
- Cox, Ana Marie (April 30, 2006). "Matt Drudge; Redefining What's News". Time. Archived from the original on May 17, 2006. Retrieved October 1, 2006.
- "Drudge Report Sets Tone for National Political Coverage". ABC News. October 1, 2006. Retrieved October 1, 2006.
- Hirschman, David S. (October 6, 2006). "'Wash Post' Editor Downie: Everyone in Our Newsroom Wants to Be a Blogger". Editor & Publisher. Retrieved October 8, 2006.
- Rutenberg, Jim (October 22, 2007). "Clinton Finds Way to Play Along With Drudge". The New York Times. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
- Epstein, Jennifer (January 29, 2012). "Thompson: Mitt campaign has 'Drudge in their back pocket'". Politico. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
- The Drudge Revolution - Matthew Lysia (BenBella Books, 2020)
- "Pushing others' news for profit". The Sydney Morning Herald. September 16, 2003. Retrieved October 4, 2009.
- Drudge, Matt (November 12, 2002). "Over 1 Billion Served". editorial. The Drudge Report. Retrieved October 4, 2006.
- Harnden, Toby (February 28, 2008). "Matt Drudge: world's most powerful journalist". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on May 27, 2008. Retrieved June 28, 2008.
- Scheer, Robert (July 16, 1998). "Dinner With Drudge". Online Journalism Review. Retrieved September 27, 2006.
- Sokol, Brett (June 28, 2001). "The Drudge Retort". Miami Times. Miami. Retrieved December 18, 2010.
- Landesman, Cosmo (April 17, 2005). "The World is his Laptop". The Times. London. Retrieved October 28, 2006.
- Purdum, Todd (August 17, 1997). "The Dangers of Dishing Dirt in Cyberspace". The New York Times. Retrieved October 30, 2006.
- "Drudging up news on the Web". CNN. May 6, 2002. Retrieved December 15, 2006.
- Paglia, Camille (September 1, 1998). "Ask Camille". Salon. Archived from the original on January 15, 2007. Retrieved October 4, 2006.
- McClintick, David (November 1998). "Town Crier for the New Age". Brill's Content. Archived from the original on August 19, 2000. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
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