Newsweek's Isikoff on Matt Drudge: 'Much Less of a Factor than He Was Five Years Ago'

     It’s been 10 years since the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. But the way it broke changed the way the news cycle functioned and has had a profound impact on the business of media.


     In 1998, Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff's Lewinsky story was leaked to Matt Drudge’s Drudge Report. The story took off from Drudge and the rest is history. But a decade later, Isikoff said he doesn’t think Drudge is the player he once was.


     “I’d say he is much less of a factor than he was five years ago,” Isikoff said. “I think he has lost a little bit of his edge. I think the point you’re making – the stories getting prematurely out there have much less to do with him today than with just the evolution of the media where everybody’s got a Web site. Everybody is looking at media where it is constant 24/7 news cycle.”


     Isikoff and Mother Jones magazine’s David Corn were the featured guests for Carol Joynt’s “Q & A Café,” a discussion held at Nathan’s of Georgetown April 24. It appears on TV locally in the Washington, D.C., area Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 11 p.m. on NewsChannel 8.


     Despite the history between Isikoff and Drudge, Isikoff said he rarely ever talked to Drudge. However, he did credit him as a successful business story.


     “I think as a pure American business story,” Isikoff said, “He is, you know, pretty significant. He sort of is a pioneer in the Internet and the Web.”


     The Drudge Report has proven it is still a force, especially in this presidential election cycle. The site has gotten exclusive information from Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, including the first on her campaign’s internal polling and her and her husband’s tax returns.


     “He’s clearly had an impact,” Isikoff said. “I think he’s driven a lot of things. He’s sort of a pioneer in aggregating, which is sort of a big part of what Weblogs do.”


     Joynt asked Isikoff about the possibility of Lewinsky surfacing in some form to play a role in the presidential election.


     “No,” Isikoff replied. “If she [Hillary Clinton] becomes the nominee, I’m sure Republicans would like to see it, Republicans will bring up everything else.”


     Isikoff said it had been awhile since he last heard from Lewinsky.


     Although Isikoff was less than enthusiastic about the progression of the Drudge Report over the last five years, the site was named first by Nielsen last month.


     “According to Nielsen's Online NetRatings, The Drudge Report ranks number one in the Top 30 News Sites of Online Current Events and Global News Destinations – beating out CNN's Digital News, The New York Times' and Yahoo! News. The Newspaper Association of America reported these numbers from Nielsen,” a March 28 release said.

Photo Credits: Ellen Schreiber