How did Matt Drudge's site become, and remain, famous?

The Drudge Report is back in the news, in large part because it made a claim John McCain had caught up to Barack Obama in the polls (which isn’t really true, which is aprt of the story.)

What I’m here to ask, though is… how did this site get so famous? It has no news on it you can’t find elsewhere, and my God, it’s surely the most amateurish web site in the world that’s famous. It looks like it was designed to be viewed in Mosaic.

It broke the Monica Lewinsky story.

Not quite true. He gets scoops from time to time and posts them.

He has a lot of connections to newspapers all over the world. His quake sheet on the right keeps track of tremors around the world. You can zero in on US and by state if you choose . He has links to a lot of columnists and pundits. Also he was very early with his site ,so he got the jump.

This is the correct answer. He broke it first and has been on rampage of craziness since.

How true is this? I’ve heard from a couple of different sources that the guy is all sorts of batshit insane/self-loving/overproud simply for breaking one story, and has ridden his 15 minutes of fame for the past five hours. . . I’d look into it more, but as with all things media I have better things to do–breathing and blinking come to mind.

Is he just a straphanger, or is he somewhat of a legitimate “journalist”/“paparazzi”?

(I use quotes not for perjorative reasons, but only to loosely frame the titles).

It would be extremely generous to call him a journalist as his website consists almost entirely of links to articles elsewhere.

What keeps him going is the same reason that Google keeps going: his site loads up quick and has plenty of links to other sites. He has broken news early, particularly stories that are coming from the NY Times and the Washington Post, and his overseas links are helpful if you’re a news junkie.

In short, he provides a great service, whatever you may think of him personally, and he keeps providing it. He probably hasn’t taken a day off since the mid-90s.

Not sure if that’s a joke or not. Matt Drudge does have a staff that updates the site constantly. Although he’s extremely involved in the site, he’s not personally in front of the computer 24/7!

But due to his early scoop, he’s established some personal relationships with many members of the conservative media–and they feed him scoops. And by personal relationships–the guy dated Ann Coulter (shudder) for chrissakes!

Word on the street is that he’s gay.

Visually, it’s so ugly and poorly done, it seems almost like it looks bad on purpose. I just don’t get why it needs to look so crappy. It would be easy to make it look clean, organized and modern, and load up just as fast. I just don’t get it.

Because that’s what the Drudge Report looks like. Why ‘fix’ what makes you distinctive?

But it’s about which stories he posts… they all reflect his own political views, so he gives exposure to otherwise fringe stories and ignores otherwise mainstream stories. This creates a certain view of the world that some people want to see.

As for the design, what you see as ugly and outdated, others see as sleek and simple. It ranks in the top-ten for daily page views.

Drudge is willing to publish stories that are still in the rumor stage. If you’re a political operative who wants to start a story that your opponent is having an affair, you can’t call up one of the mainstream media outlets - they’ll want corroboration before they publish. But Drudge will print an unsubstantiated rumor. Then the mainstream media will investigate the story because it’s been publicized. The result is that, true or false, the rumor gets spread around.

Yeah, I suppose Ann Coulter is his “beard”. Officially he’s still closeted I believe…

You’re complaining about 1 poll?
This is what is on the site now regarding political predictions:


The lead story is about Obama.

He posts a wide range of polling information DAILY. His site is a news portal that lists all the major newspapers in the US and around the world making it easy to access many papers at once. If it seems amaeurish it’s because it doesn’t have alot of visual noise (which makes it fast to load). THATS why the site is so popular.

I agree with these and that his site is low on noise, and that it has a very wide range of stories (so he’s sifted through all of the stuff I don’t want to read for me). Also, I think that stories seem to appear first on his site, you will read things there that don’t make it in the mainstream outlets for 12 hours, but I’ve seen some that took 2-3 days to catch on.

Of course I also use other sites to get news, but his is just one in the rotation that offers one side of things.

Here’s the original Drudge Report story on Lewinsky:

Keep in mind this was 1998, when the internet was a lot smaller. The idea that a website could break a story was unusual.

FTR, the singular form is paparazzo.

Actually the site gets high makes for usability. It’s clean, organized and modern. It’s just doesn’t have the cookie cutter Herb Tarlek look so many web sites have these days.