Home How Much Is Being The Most Influential Man in News Worth?

How Much Is Being The Most Influential Man in News Worth?

Who is the most influential man in American news? It’s not Brian Williams or Bill O’Reilly or Keith Olbermann or Larry King. It’s not Seymour Hersh or Charlie Savage or Frank Rich or Robert Novak. No, arguably the most influential man in American news is Matt Drudge. So how much is that worth?

Matt Drudge caught his first big break in 1994 1998 when he revealed that Newsweek had killed a story about a certain Presidential dalliance with an intern. A few days later Drudge revealed the name that would become the talk of a nation for months: Monica Lewinsky. In the early days, Matt Drudge was looked at as a gossip. But more recently, the man who was initially written off as an annoyance has begun to garner respect because his site is just too important to ignore.

“Our largest driver of traffic is Matt Drudge,” says Washington Post editor Len Downie (Editor & Publisher). “If Drudge has a siren up, people know it’s something they have to look at,” says Mark Halperin, ABC News Political Director, referring to the gif animation of a flashing police light Drudge’s web site uses to indicate a breaking story. “When there’s a siren, that’s a three-alarm news deal,” says Mark McKinnon, one of George Bush’s campaign consultants (ABC News). Hillary Clinton has even reportedly been using Drudge to “leak” news that can preempt announcements from rival candidates.

According to media metrics firm, Hitwise, Drudge is the 9th most visited news site on the web, the only non-corporate owned news site to consistently crack the top ten — a list that Drudge proudly trumpets on his website (the the right side collection of links). Alexa puts the Drudge Report in the top 250 most visited web sites in the US. comScore pegs his traffic at 1.3 million unique visitors per month, generating 60 million page views (Drudge himself claims far more traffic — but his page is set to auto reload often, which some contend inflates his traffic stats). He has a radio show that is syndicated every Sunday night in all 50 states.

What that all ads up to is that Matt Drudge, the original political gossip slinger on the web, has morphed over the past 13 years into one of the most influential people in American news — if not the most influential.

In the January issue of Portfolio magazine, writer Duff MacDonald attempts to put a value on the Drudge media empire. Using three different valuation models, MacDonald runs the numbers and comes out with values ranging from $5.3 million to $86.4 million. In the end, he settles on a range of $10-20 million.

That’s probably fair, but anyone who wants to buy the Drudge Report better lock Matt Drudge and Andrew Breitbart (his only employee) into a long term contract. As MacDonald notes, without them, the site is worthless. Then again, it’s doubtful that Drudge would really want to sell — he makes enough money to afford a $1.4 million home in Miami he might not even live in and doesn’t seem likely to give up any editorial freedom.

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