Tuesday, January 13, 2015
How Matt Drudge Made A Fortune With Good Snooping!
(Video Above) "So, in the famous words of another newsman, Horace Greeley, I, still a young man, went West, out to Hollywood. And I do mean Hollywood, not Beverly Hills, not the Palisades, no 90210 for this kid. It was the part of Hollywood they always promised to clean up and they never do, a part of Hollywood you see on Cops. (Laughter.) Where you twinkle and then wrinkle and people forget about you. That's where I'm from.
I swung into another clerk job, this time at CBS. I folded T-shirts in the gift shop, dusted off 60 Minutes mugs. Occasionally after hours I had conversations with those ghost of Bill Paley. It was during one of these wee-hour chats that he reminded me the first step in good reporting is good snooping.
Inspired, I went out of my way to service the executive suites. I remember I delivered sweatshirts to Jeff Sagansky, at the time president of CBS.
Overhearing, listening to careful conversations, intercepting the occasional memo, I would volunteer in the mail room from time to time. I hit pay dirt when I discovered that the trash cans in the Xerox room at Television City were stuffed each morning with overnight Neilsen ratings, information gold. I don't know what I did with it; I guess we, me and my friends knew Dallas had got a 35-share over Falcon Crest, but we thought we were plugged in.
I was on the move—at least I thought so. But my father worried I was in a giant stall. And in a parental panic he overcame his fear of flying and dropped in for a visit. At the end of his stay, during the drive to the airport, sensing some action was called for, he dragged me into a blown-out strip on Sunset Boulevard and found a Circuit City store. "Come on," he said desperately, "I'm getting you a computer." "Oh, yeah, and what am I doing to do with that?" I laughed.
And as they say at CBS studies: Cut, two months later. Having found a way to post things on the Internet—it was a quick learn—Internet news groups were very good to me early on—I moved on to scoops from the sound stages I had heard, Jerry Seinfeld asking for a million dollars an episode, to scoop after scoop of political things I had heard from some friends back here.
I collected a few E-mail addresses of interest. People had suggested I start a mailing list, so I collected the E-mails and set up a list called "The Drudge Report." One reader turned into five, then turned into 100. And faster than you could say "I never had sex with that woman" it was 1,000—(laughter)—5,000, 100,000 people. The ensuing website practically launched itself.
Last month I had 6 million visitors, and I currently have a daily average larger than the weekly newsstand sales of Time magazine. Thank you, Sidney Blumenthal. (Laughter.)
What's going on here? Well, clearly there is a hunger for unedited information, absent corporate considerations."
Address Before the National Press Club
Matt Drudge | June 2, 1998