Drudge won’t budge

Web's rumor-monger tells D.C. journos he's the future

WASHINGTON — After one of the most hostile introductions in recent history at the National Press Club, on-line rumor-monger Matt Drudge declared that he represents the future of journalism.

“Matt, know this … there are many in this hallowed room who do not consider you a journalist,” said NPC president Doug Harbrecht as he intro’d Drudge as someone without a formal education or professional ethics.

But as Washington’s media establishment claims Drudge lacks the credentials to be a real journalist, Drudge replied he has beat journalists at their own game. After all, Drudge claimed Tuesday, he was the first to report that Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole had picked Jack Kemp as his running mate; first to announce to an American audience that Princess Diana had died; and the quickest to report advance word on upcoming films “that even studio execs, some of them, admit they get from me.”

The Drudgereport.com Web site claims more than 1 million hits a day, and Drudge said he is only feeding a hunger in America for “unedited information.”

Drudge told his audience that he got his start by sifting through the trash at CBS, where he managed the gift shop. He hit paydirt when he discovered that company memos were being thrown out in regular trash cans. Drudge began to regularly post Eye web memos on his Web site.

But Drudge has become as well known for his ability to get stories terribly wrong as for his ability to break them. He is being sued for $30 million by a White House aide for reporting that the aide beat his wife.

Drudge defended himself against hostile questions from the Press Club audience by proclaiming, “I am not a professional,” adding, “I can print something without an editor; that’s where we are right now … let the future begin.”