May 26, 2011
Matt Drudge: An American PioneerBy Theo Willem
Ideas move man, man moves the world.
If there were a crystal ball, like the one in the fairytale where one could see into the future, it probably would be an iPad with the Drudge Report.
It is amazing how one man can have such an ability to know what is news, and how to make it headline news, instantaneous and world-wide, creating a domino-effect that in itself becomes news. Matt Drudge has the ability to spot a diamond in the rough, and mostly it is hidden under the feet of a corporate journalist.
The Drudge Report headlines alone are the best in the business and outwit all of its competitors, not to mention the selected pictures that accompany the story. And when there is breaking news, Drudge turns on the siren. Unlike CNN and Fox News, Drudge uses his "breaking news" type of alerts very sparingly. Fox News, on the other hand, seems to have an alert every 10 minutes. But when Drudge does turn on the siren, it lights up all over the world, awakening especially those in the offices of The New York Times, ABC, CBS, NBC, etc -- the ones that went to those prestigious journalism schools and who lecture a lot about credentials, credibility, and societal responsibility. And usually their commencement speeches -- which they are so fond of delivering -- are as sluggish, boring, and outdated as the organizations they work for.
Thankfully, in contrast, the Drudge Report is original, refreshing, fast, bold, and exciting. There is no other news organization that comes close to the Drudge Report.
Pat Buchanan once said that Matt Drudge is the most powerful journalist in America today -- and that was several years ago. But this might be an understatement. (By, the way, Matt Drudge dislikes the word "journalist," and once referred to it as the "J-word.") Matt Drudge might well be the most powerful reporter in the English speaking world if not the entire world. For years now he continues to run circles around the US news establishment, whose only hope is to keep checking what he is posting next.
Today it is difficult to imagine that there once was a world where one could not wake-up to the Drudge Report and Starbucks coffee. Yet that was the world many of us still can remember as not too long ago. There was a time when one had to actually retrieve a wrinkled, stained newspaper from one's driveway or from a dirty news box. By the time one read it, one's fingertips were black, and the news was as old and stale as canned coffee. But before the internet and cable TV, the news was a controlled commodity. And today we've learned that most news was never news to begin with. Instead it was sloppy, left-wing propaganda that we were all forced to swallow, like the bad coffee.
For so long, the whole world of news belonged to the left. And they had the last word. That ended, however, when Rush Limbaugh took to the airwaves. Mr. Limbaugh, in a bold voice, ended the left-wing news monopoly, and finally created a populist voice for the conservative opposition. And it was because of Rush Limbaugh that I learned of the Drudge Report.
Until the arrival of Matt Drudge, the news was slow, it was predictable, it was dull, and it was always presented in a small, provincial, snobbish, and defeatist view. Their voices can still be heard daily on NPR: the soft-spoken, polite voice of the sanctimonious sophisticate -- reminiscent of the controlled voice of Nurse Ratched in the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
How life has improved for so many with the Drudge Report -- and it's free, instantaneous, cutting-edge, and exciting. The whole world of news is brought to you by one man in a fedora hat, Matt Drudge. How does he do it?
A few years ago, in 2007, Matt Drudge did an interview on Sky News in London with its host and anchor, Anna Botting (You Tube: Rare Matt Drudge Interview). She asked Mr. Drudge what the secret was to a successful website, to which Mr. Drudge responded: "to keep it going, to keep it jumping ... sometimes I find myself updating it hundreds of times a day, hundreds of times" (0:50). Drudge went on to say that he reads about 20 to 30 different newspaper a day. And though Mr. Drudge wasn't wearing his fedora hat during this interview, it was obvious that he would take it off as a sign of respect for the London news industry, which he called "unparalleled" compared to any other city in the world.
And it seems that the British press on the whole has tremendous respect for Matt Drudge as well, as they seem to be covering US events more since Drudge started linking his headlines towards their newspapers.
As an American, I find myself learning so much more from American events reported in British newspapers than in the US newspapers. And the quality of the UK investigative reporting seems superior, as well as the writing, the wit, and the variety of pictures accompanying the articles. Furthermore the layouts of the British newspapers by themselves appear so much more colorful, provocative, and sexy -- and without the politically correct editing. Compare, for example, the UK reporting of the McDonalds beating in Baltimore, Maryland and the execution style murders of two British tourists in Sarasota, Florida, with the US reporting of these events. Unfortunately it demonstrates the lack of work ethic, courage, and honesty on the part of the American media.
But besides Drudge's talents as a journalist, he is also a great radio talk-show host. Numerous years ago, when Drudge was on the air every Sunday night, one could listen to some of the best political news clips and hippest bumper music in radio. Drudge furthermore would break news stories ahead of Monday's newspapers, taking the wind out of the sails of his competitors while mocking CNN's Wolf Blitzer's self-described Sunday "last news in talk" by quipping "eat your heart out Wolf Blitzer!"
Today Drudge travels all over the world, and continues to rule the news from any place and any time-zone. Still many of his critics don't seem to understand why Matt Drudge is so successful. What the critics don't seem to understand is that Matt Drudge is an independent thinker, an individualist. Unlike NBC's Brian Williams, for example, you will not find Drudge bowing to President Obama. Nor will you find Drudge, like most other media celebrities, posing and preening at high society parties in Manhattan or Washington DC. Matt Drudge is not one seeking to join the American elite that publicly praise each other with prestigious awards and recognition. And that is what makes Matt Drudge untouchable and uncontrollable.
But whether or not Mr. Drudge will ever receive the proper recognition for his achievements, history will give him a prominent place among the great American pioneers.
Theo Willem is a free-lance writer who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.