'Impeachment: American Crime Story': Looking Back on Matt Drudge's Role in the 1998 Scandal

While the journalist is portrayed on screen by Billy Eichner, ET spoke with Drudge himself in 1998.

While Impeachment: American Crime Story is largely focused on the key women involved in the 1998 sex scandal and subsequent impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, there’s one key figure in the story that can’t be overlooked. And that is Matt Drudge, the creator of the news aggregator Drudge Report responsible for exposing the affair between Clinton and Lewinsky. 

On the series, Drudge is portrayed by Billy Eichner, a recent newcomer to Ryan Murphy’s universe who previously appeared in two installments of American Horror Story. While the actor doesn’t agree “with Drudge’s politics at all,” he recalls to ET how he became “one of those people who ran home and checked my desktop every day for breaking news.” 

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While Drudge got his start in the gossip business while working as a sales clerk at a CBS Studios gift shop, it wasn’t long before his site gained popularity and became a must-read scandal sheet of the mid-‘90s. And not long after news of the affair broke, ET spoke with Drudge several times about the impact of his story. 

“It’s gonna be a real scandal on the highest order that America’s ever seen,” Drudge said at the time. “It really is the first time the internet is breaking a story of this magnitude.”  

He also explained how he moved forward with it, noting how Newsweek, which had long been investigating Clinton’s abuse of power, waited on publishing. “When they decided not to run this story, I had an opportunity to move in. And they presented me [with] that opportunity. And that’s what I did,” he says. 

And because Lewinsky lived in the Watergate Hotel at the time, Drudge was dubbing the whole thing, “Watergate 1998,” saying that “this is a story that will turn Washington upside down.”  

“I’m taking on a media establishment that basically I think has not been honest with the American people,” he continued, noting, “and all hell has broken loose.”


Thanks his popularity at the time, Drudge landed a short-lived Fox News show as well as a Sunday night radio program. But he always remained an enigmatic figure -- especially when it came to his sexuality, which was an open secret. And in more recent years, he’s become a recluse, reportedly only talking to longtime media friends like Ann Coulter (who is portrayed on the series by Cobie Smulders). 

“His relationship to his sexuality is complicated, to put it best, and that part I am very interested in,” Eichner says. “If I ever met Matt Drudge, I would ask him if he is a happy person.” 

Impeachment: American Crime Story airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.



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