The Drudge Report
is a conservative, U.S.-based news aggregation website
run by Matthew Nathan Drudge
. The site consists mainly of links
to stories from the US and international mainstream media
about politics, entertainment, and current events as well as links to many columnists. Occasionally Drudge authors news stories himself based on tip-offs. The Report
originated around 1994 as a weekly subscriber-based email dispatch. It is most famous for being the first news source to break the Monica Lewinsky
scandal to the public after Newsweek
decided not to publish the story.
Drudge started as a "a gossip column focusing on gossip from Hollywood and Washington, D.C.". He began publishing his email-based Report
from an apartment in Hollywood, California
, using his connections with industry and media insiders to break stories sometimes before they hit the mainstream media. He now maintains the website from his home in Miami Beach, Florida
, with help from Andrew Breitbart
, who assists in story selection and headline writing. Breitbart, who describes himself as "Matt Drudge’s bitch", works the afternoon shift at the Drudge Report, as well as running his own website (breitbart.com) and another website providing a conservative
support system for people in the Los Angeles entertainment industry.
Drudge, who began his website in 1997 as a supplement to his email newsletter, 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, Drudge again made national waves when he broke the news that Newsweek magazine had information on an inappropriate relationship between "a White House intern" and President Bill Clinton (the Monica Lewinsky scandal), but was withholding publication. After Drudge's report, Newsweek published the story.
The Drudge Report
site consists mainly of selected hyperlinks
to news websites all over the world. These linked stories are almost always hosted on the external websites of mainstream media outlets. The rest of the site contains links to media outlets and a number of columnists. The site sometimes includes stories written by Drudge himself — usually two to three paragraphs in length. These stories generally first publish a rumor concerning a story that is about to be published in a major magazine or newspaper. Drudge also occasionally publishes Nielsen
, or BookScan
ratings, internal email messages, or early election exit polls
that are otherwise not made available to the public.
has a simple design
, consisting of a banner headline and a number of other selected headlines in three columns. Although the site initially featured very few images, it is now usually illustrated with five or six photographs. Generally the images, like the linked headlines, are hotlinked
from other news agencies' servers, although Drudge does occasionally use some images, generally those he personally edits, that are hosted on his own server.
Matt Drudge has said that he is a Conservative. More recently Richard Siklos, an editor of Fortune magazine, called the Drudge Report a "conservative bullhorn".
In response to the conservative bias of the Drudge Report, a parody site called Drudge Retort was founded in 1998. Called "a send-up of Mr. Drudge's breathless style" by the New York Times, it is run by Rogers Cadenhead and Jonathan Bourne, a television sitcom writer. It follows a similar format but features news stories and satire with a Liberal slant. In 1999 it was drawing 25,000 visitors a day. Even Matt Drudge checks the Drudge Retort, saying he goes there when he can't get into his own site.
According to Mark Halperin
, "Drudge's coverage affects the media's political coverage", effectively steering the media's political coverage towards what Halperin calls "the most salacious aspects of American politics." In The Way To Win
, a book written by Halperin and John Harris
, Drudge is called "the Walter Cronkite
of his era." Democratic Party
strategist Chris Lehane
says "phones start ringing" whenever Drudge breaks a story, and Mark McKinnon, a former media advisor to George W. Bush
, says he checks the site 30–40 times per day. Matt Drudge has been criticized by other media news personalities: Bill O'Reilly
twice called Drudge a "threat to democracy" in response of Drudge disclosing his book sales figures, and Keith Olbermann
referred to Drudge as "an idiot with a modem".
| Brand or Channel
|| Sessions per Person
|| Unique Audience
| Yahoo! News
| MSNBC Digital Network
| CNN Digital Network
| AOL News
| Gannett Newspapers
| Google News
| Fox News Digital Network
| Hearst Newspapers Digital
| IB Websites
| Gannett Broadcasting
| Star Tribune
| Source: Nielsen's Top 30 Online Current Events & Global News Destinations, May 2008
Nielsen NetRatings reports approximately 3 million visitors per month, with visitors spending an average of 66 minutes on the site, with as many as one thousand advertisers at one time.
Alexa Internet estimates that traffic (expressed as the percentage of all Internet users) to the Drudge Report website has diminished from a typical rate of 0.6% in the election season of late 2003 to 0.2% in early 2008 (a 66% drop). By September 2008, the site's traffic continued on a downward trend.
According to the online advertising company linked to his site, the Drudge Report audience is 78 percent male, 60 percent Republican, and 8 percent Democratic.
In October, 2006, Washington Post editor Leonard Downie, Jr. stated that amongst bloggers, their "largest driver of traffic is Matt Drudge."
In March, 2008, the Newspaper Association of America listed The Drudge Report as having a readership of about 3.5 million, and as one of the most frequently revisited news sites, with up to 19 visits per person per day. This exceptionally high revisit number is influenced by the use of an autorefresh script that logs a new visit for each visitor every three minutes the visitor spends at the site.
Archives of older reports are generally not easy to find. A number of reports from 1995 to early 1997 are available in the Usenet
archive provided by Google Groups
. A more extensive archive of the website is provided by Drudge Report Archives
, which has archives since mid-November 2001 and says it takes and stores snapshots of the Drudge Report homepage every two minutes.
Views on global warming
Drudge has faced criticism for his skeptical view of global warming
, seen in his highlighting of winter cold snaps and freak snowstorms in warm places. On February 25, 2007, he stated during his radio broadcast that global warming
is "faux science" and that "the greening of our population, the falling for the science ... is making me nervous.
Monica Lewinsky scandal
The Drudge Report attained prominence when it was the first to report what came to be known as the Lewinsky scandal
. Drudge published the story on January 17, 1998, after Newsweek
reportedly turned down the story.
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth
During 2004 U.S. presidential campaign, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth
group made unfounded claims about John Kerry's war record, which were pushed hard by Drudge and then investigated by major newspapers and TV networks.
Due to these claims, the term "Swift Boating" (or "swiftboating") has become a common expression for a campaign attacking opponents by questioning their credibility and patriotism. The term is most often used with the pejorative meaning of a smear campaign.
Drudge became a center of controversy after posting a photo of Barack Obama
tribal dress on February 25, 2008. Drudge reported that the photo had been sent to him by a Clinton campaign staffer, but Drudge did not produce the email. The publication of the photograph resulted in a brief war of words between the Clinton and Obama campaign organizations.
Prince Harry in Afghanistan
On February 28, 2008 Drudge published an article noting that Prince Harry of Wales
, third in line to the British throne and a Second Lieutenant in the Blues and Royals
Regiment of the Household Cavalry
of the British Army
, was serving with his regiment in Helmand Province
. The fact that Prince Harry was ten weeks into a front-line deployment in Afghanistan was subject to a voluntary news blackout by the UK press, designed to protect Prince Harry and the men serving with him from being specifically targeted by the Taliban
An Australian weekly women’s magazine New Idea broke the story in January
- but it was not followed up at the time. New Idea editors claimed ignorance of any news blackout.
Then a German newspaper, the Berliner Kurier, published a short piece on February 28, 2008, also before Drudge.
Despite these prior publications of the news, Drudge subsequently claimed the report as an exclusive. Chief of the General Staff Sir Richard Dannatt, professional head of the British Army, said: "I am very disappointed that foreign websites have decided to run this story without consulting us".
As a direct result of this disclosure the Prince's tour of duty was prematurely ended, since his unit was likely to be targeted by large scale suicide attacks intended to kill the Prince. In the Have Your Say section of the BBC website, BBC viewers were highly critical of the Drudge Report's decision to leak the news.
Errors and unsourced stories
Drudge has estimated that 20 percent of his reporting is wrong. Some notable errors or stories Drudge has authored for which there are no named sources are:
Sidney Blumenthal lawsuit
In 1997, the Drudge Report
reported that incoming White House assistant Sidney Blumenthal
beat his wife and was covering it up. Drudge retracted the story the next day and apologized, saying he was given bad information, but Blumenthal filed a $30 million libel lawsuit against Drudge. After four years, Blumenthal dropped his lawsuit. Blumenthal said the suit had cost him tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
He agreed to pay $2,500 to Drudge's Los Angeles attorney for travel costs, claiming that Drudge was "backed by unlimited funds from political supporters who use a tax-exempt foundation. The Individual Rights Foundation, led by conservative
activist David Horowitz
, paid Drudge's legal fees in the Blumenthal lawsuit. A federal judge noted in the judgment that Drudge "is not a reporter, a journalist, or a newsgatherer. He is, as he admits himself, simply a purveyor of gossip."
John Kerry's alleged intern scandal
Similarly, during the 2004 Presidential campaign
, Drudge ran a questionable story quoting General Wesley Clark
, where Clark claimed that the John Kerry
campaign would implode over an intern affair. Drudge reported that other news outlets were investigating the alleged affair. He removed it from the site shortly thereafter when the other news outlets dropped the investigations.
Bill Clinton's alleged illegitimate baby
In 1999, the Drudge Report
announced that it had viewed a videotape which was the basis of a Star Magazine
and Hard Copy
story. Under the headline, "Woman Names Bill Clinton Father Of Son In Shocking Video Confession"
, Drudge reported a videotaped "confession" by a former prostitute who claimed that her son was fathered by Bill Clinton. The Report
stated, "To accuse the most powerful man in the world of being the father of her son is either the hoax of a lifetime, or a personal turmoil that needs resolution. Only two people may know that answer tonight." The claim turned out to be a hoax.
CNN reporter's alleged heckling of GOP senators
On April 1 2007
Drudge cited an unnamed "official" source saying that CNN
reporter Michael Ware
had "heckled" Republican Senators McCain and Graham during a live press conference. Drudge reported that
Ware disputed Drudge's report on CNN April 2 2007, saying that the story was leaked "by an unnamed official of some kind to a blog", that the story was anonymous, and that no one was willing to put their name to it; he advised people to view the tape. Video hosted by Rawstory shows that Ware did not make a sound nor ask any question during the press conference. The Drudge Report did not retract or apologise for the story. Drudge's report was echoed in The Washington Times, which carried opinion questioning Ware's trustworthiness, and in many conservative blogs, some of which called for Ware's resignation.
Oprah and Sarah Palin
On September 5, 2008 the Drudge Report reported that Oprah
staffers were "sharply divided on the merits of booking Sarah Palin." He said that he obtained the information from an anonymous source. Winfrey responded in a written statement to news outlets that: "The item in today’s Drudge Report is categorically untrue. There has been absolutely no discussion about having Sarah Palin on my show. At the beginning of this presidential campaign when I decided that I was going to take my first public stance in support of a candidate, I made the decision not to use my show as a platform for any of the candidates." Since Drudge cited not a single specific source for his story, he was accused of planting a false story for political ends.