Web Posted: 01/17/98 23:32:47 PST -- NEWSWEEK KILLS STORY ON WHITE HOUSE INTERN
BLOCKBUSTER REPORT: 23-YEAR OLD, FORMER WHITE HOUSE INTERN, SEX RELATIONSHIP WITH PRESIDENT
**Must Credit the DRUDGE REPORT**
At the last minute, at 6 p.m. on Saturday evening, NEWSWEEK magazine killed a story that was destined to shake official Washington to its foundation: A White House intern carried on a sexual affair with the President of the United States!
With those words, Matt Drudge and the Drudge Report forever changed journalism in America. And now, almost fifteen years to the day, the biggest casualty of that changing landscape is the "Old Media" magazine Drudge scooped that January evening in 1998, Newsweek, has shut its doors forever. Shockingly, Newsweek still doesn't get it.
In its final print issue, Newsweek finally allows reporter Michael Isikoff to write about the story completely unfettered. The title of his article is a brilliant example of complete and total denial: Monica Lewinsky: The Inside Story of an Epic Newsweek Scoop
What are we missing here? At this point, every 1st year journalism school (they still have journalism schools, don't they?) student knows that Newsweek SPIKED Isikoff's story and Matt Drudge is the man who faced the vindictive wrath of the Clinton White House (and the entrenched journalism club in Washington and New York) and broke the story that became the biggest blockbuster in a generation.
It's the height of hubris for Newsweek to now claim the Lewinsky story was their scoop when they passed on it and allowed themselves to be scooped by Drudge and the Washington Post three days later. It's also an illustration in denial, even as the casket is closing on the long-dead corpse of the lifeless magazine. Even in death, Newsweek can't acknowledge that it has been surpassed not just by a more immediate and capable medium (the Internet) but also by a more nimble and pro-active journalistic style.
New Media is populated not by the establishment insiders that occupied the offices of the organs that held a monopoly on news and information fifty years ago. New Media responds to the news cycle and discovers stories overlooked or not even considered by the smart set who consider how their pals in the White House communications office will respond to their stories more than they care about getting information in front of the public.
Sure, Isikoff did the reporting, but his editors and publishers held the political and media establishment's false construct of propriety in higher regard than their readers' right to know. They respected the opinions of their friends at Washington cocktail parties more than the intelligence of their readers.
Yes, it was Newsweek's story, and they killed it. It was Drudge's scoop, and he changed the world with it.
And now Newsweek is dead, and earlier this year the Drudge Report set a record with over one billion page views in a month. Yes, that's about right.