Washington Post, June 6, 2013
Say the words “Matt Drudge” to any political junkie and you will get one of two responses.
The first will be strong disdain for Drudge’s eponymously-named news site and its tilt toward outrageous headlines and conservative viewpoints.
The second will be sheer awe for Drudge’s continued ability to pull in massive amounts of web traffic using a site that any teenager with an affinity for the Internet could make in under 15 minutes.
No one — and we mean no one — lacks an opinion when it comes to Drudge and the Drudge Report. The combination of the controversy surrounding Drudge and his legendary reclusiveness makes it difficult to have a conversation about his influence on the culture of web journalism that doesn’t devolve into a shouting match within seconds.
But, Drudge did — and does — have an impact. So, it’s worth going back 15 years this week to a speech Drudge gave at the National Press Club in which he outlined his vision of the future of journalism.
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It’s hard to argue that the vision Drudge had for the news business is what the news business has, in large part, become. It’s worth watching his whole speech, which is below, not only for his remarks but for the obvious and not-at-all-disguised disdain that Doug Harbrecht, the president of the Press Club at the time, has for Drudge.
Phi Beta Iota: The contrast between Doug Harbrecht, representing the “established press,” and Matt Drudge, representing the “free media,” is palpable. The same contrasts exist between the secret intelligence and public intelligence world; between government by fiat and self-governance, and so on. We highly recommend both the speech, which was clearly developed with painstaking attention to detail, and the Q&A, in which he knocks several pointed derogatory questions out of the park. Matt Druge offers a phenomenal performance provoking of great reflection. He is vastly more educated — and more attentive to historical precedents and anomalies, than are his detractors. His formula includes following his “conscience.” Impressive in every possible respect. Kudos to Chris Cillizza and the Washington Post.