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June 12, 2003

Camille Paglia interviews Matt Drudge

Daniel Radosh

Camille Paglia interviews Matt Drudge in the new issue of Radar. And by interviews I mean fellates. Though she gets off one moderately shrewd question ("what's your attitude toward outing?"), Paglia by and large makes James Lipton look like the Terminator. Herewith, a representative sample of her "questions":

As a personality on the media landscape, Matt, you seem like a loner. You've been guarded about your personal life, and rarely make the usual media rounds. Why do you stay so mysterious?

Movie stars have the same problem--Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, Madonna today. There is something psychologically dislocating about the ability to reach so many people at once. When you were at the White House Correspondents Dinner, how did people treat you?

You have an improv quality--it's like flying by the seat of your pants as the storm of news is raging all around you. You're just --grabbing at things as they fly by.

You don't do firsthand reporting. That's not your function.

There's something retro about your persona. It's like the pre-World War II generation of reporters--those unpretentious, working-class guys who hung around saloons and used rough language. Now they've all been replaced with these effete Ivy League elitists who swarm over the current media. Nerds--utterly dull and insipid.

I think a lot of people who dismiss you as a gossip columnist are dismissive about the entertainment industry in general. There's a snobbery in the media that says that serious reporters cover political news, while those who cover celebrities are dismissed as gossips.

Your fascination with weather and nature is really interesting to me. You have this sublime mix. There'll be all these sordid, squalid, tabloid stories--a sex scandal or some hideous crime--and then all of a sudden you'll insert a huge image of a hurricane heading across the Atlantic toward Florida.

You're right. Mass newspapers developed as a populist voice for the immigrant generations in the 19th and 20th centuries. The journalism establishment got more and more pompous about itself, with this pretense that it's objective and altruistic. Look at the transformation of Joseph Pulitzer. His name used to be mud. But because of the Pulitzer prizes his name has a saintly ring to it. What's your relationship with the media machers of the northeastern seaboard?

You are a role model for young people who feel daunted by the corporate landscape--a model for what one shrewd, tech-savvy person can accomplish if he or she has balls.

It's so true. The Drudge Report has dramatized the process of censorship that's going on, the filtering of the news by established news organizations. I used to think, at the beginning of the '90s, that we had a relatively free press and that people were out to make their reputations in the Woodward-Bernstein model. But I no longer think that. Most of the reporters on the networks and in main northeastern newspapers are company men--shmoozing careerists who are desperately afraid to rock the boat.

We need more mischief-making. The American media is too bland and cautious about the government. It's refreshing to hear someone being rude and raucous. It's great.

When you said that all life is sacred, was that a religious statement or a reflection of 1960s-style cosmic consciousness?

This is so '60s. You give off such a '60s vibe.

Are all your friends Ann Coulter types: tough and uncompromising?

Come on, Matt! Give us something hot about yourself. [Laughter]]

Yeah, I used to narrate my life in headlines. I still do. When I was a kid, if I'd fall off a chair I'd announce, "Girl Falls off Chair," like that. I love those blaring, brazen headlines in old-time newspapers. They also had a great impact on Andy Warhol.

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