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MON NOV 03 2003 22:31:05 ET

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back to the show. I'm Joe Scarborough. A news flash: Matt Drudge in the "Drudge Report" is reporting tonight that CBS is going to be pulling "The Reagans." They will yank it, not show it and are going to be giving it to Showtime to show. With us right now, the man who broke the story, just like all the other stories that he's broken over the past five, six, seven years. We've got Matt Drudge of the "Drudge Report" on the line.

Matt, you have done it again. What do you know about this story on "The Reagans"?

MATT DRUDGE, "DRUDGE REPORT": They've replaced it with a story on the Bushes. Author Kitty Kelly has sold it to CBS. No, just kidding. A tremendous night. It's the beginning of a second media century, Joe, where it's much more of a people-driven media. And I say that not lightly. It was the Internet, it was talk radio, it was cable that put pressure on CBS, and heretofore, there's never been this kind of pressure applied to one of the big titans, one of the big three. And the pressure went all the way to the top of a super company called Viacom, and the chairman earlier today is my information said, "Listen, let's just get it on cable. Let's do it on Showtime. Let's show it uncut. Everybody will watch." So the word is that CBS will pass on it. It will not air on free television, but the full glory of "The Reagans" will air on Showtime.

SCARBOROUGH: Matt Drudge, you have driven this story for weeks. You, of course, were the one that got the script, the "I am the antichrist" quote from the script, Streisand drawing a distance from "The Reagans." It's remarkable the inside information that you have had. Why have you been driving the story so much? Why do you think this is such an important story right now?

DRUDGE: It is because to me, it was a defining moment when a script became available. The "New York Times," in all fairness, was the first one to go out ahead of it. Now, over the summer, I warned my radio audience over the Premier Radio Networks, "Watch out. This is coming. It's nasty, it's vicious. They're filming it now." They wouldn't even film this in the United States. That's how hot this thing was. They had to go up to Canada. Or maybe it was the cost cutting for production value. But to me, it was such a clear misrepresentation of reality that you've got to be careful, especially with a man suffering from severe Alzheimer's who's not able to defend himself.

Joe, I challenged Moonves to say: "Why don't you put Nancy Reagan on the air? Why don't you let her say this is trash, and this is hurtful, and her husband can't defend himself? And they wouldn't do it. So to have them in retreat, again, is a great win for a new media of all stripes.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, it's interesting, you were talking about warning your radio audience, and I, you know, I listened to it that Sunday night and every Sunday night afterwards, and we were flooded with e-mails once you started breaking the news. Merv Griffin told us about it, said it was coming. But yet you touched on something, I think, that's even bigger than the story tonight. And that is that this is the new media striking back at Viacom, a multinational media conglomeration, and your reports, talk radio, alternative media, forcing Viacom to back down. That's in a sense even bigger than the impeachment story that you started breaking in 1998, isn't it?

DRUDGE: I don't know. I'll leave that to others to decide. But again, this goes straight to the heart of an issue that who owns the air waves and, if people have a right to criticize, to talk about things while they're in production is a whole new way of thinking. It used to be you would consume the product, and then you would get outraged, and you wouldn't have an outlet. And your previous guest, Bernie Goldberg, demonstrated that so well in his two new book -- in his new book and his previous book, that there was nowhere else to go. You had to deal with it. But we are living in a new media environment where people can send e-mails. There are a lot of different ways now to communicate. And again, this is a clear example where people rose up, because it was hurtful and vicious on a beloved American character. Now, Tom Shales of the "Washington Post" thought this was too soon and tacky. Liz Smith, the great liberal gossip columnist in the spirit of Winchell and Hedda said this is tacky and not good. So even the left was uncomfortable. It was only the ardent ones -- the Streisands -- who were digging in and saying this must air!

SCARBOROUGH: What's been your response from your Sunday night audience and Drudge radio? What's been the response to all those -- the millions who come to the "Drudge Report" every day, to your breaking stories on "The Reagans"? Have you been overwhelmed with the anti-CBS response you've gotten since you started driving this story?

DRUDGE: It is mixed. We are -- there are many people in this country, rightfully so, who are not pro boycott and who are uncomfortable with censorship. And to their solace, it is going to air uncut in Showtime, and they wouldn't have seen it uncut on CBS, as "Newsweek" reported. They'd already taken a machete to it. The AIDS line had been cut. Moonves was ordering more cuts as late as this weekend, the CBS chairman. So they will see it in its full glory, so to say that it will never air is wrong and false. But for it to air on a beloved CBS, which just celebrated its 75th anniversary last night in the spirit of "Lucy" and Jackie Gleason, and all the great quality of CBS, this just didn't fit. And this is not what they ordered. They ordered a love story, and it ended up just being a political hit job. Again, quoting Reagan in one bizarre scene, "I am the anti-Christ." I mean, David Geffen could not have scripted this one better.

SCARBOROUGH: I tell you, when you posted that last week, "I am the anti-Christ," I think that may have been the turning point in this entire debate. And I saw the CBS 75th anniversary last night, a remarkable show about a remarkable network with a very proud history. And you're right, it doesn't fit. Got to ask you one final question, Matt. How do you do it? How do you have the sources that you have at "Newsweek," at CBS, at the "New York Times"? How do you break these stories week in and week out?

DRUDGE: It's an army of concerned citizens who are frustrated that main press will not print and go with things. Back in the Lewinsky era last century, or the Kathleen Willeys, or the Brodericks, and it's just an endless series of spiked, suppressed stories. And this was a script that was too hot. And, you know, CBS kept its fingers crossed that no one would expose the details, and it would air and divide a country, which, you know, it didn't get to that point. And I'll just say this, Joe, the notion that Streisand was so intimately involved in this, I think, will be a future story and a defeat on leftest politics disguised as art, because when you start talking about a beloved American president -- and if they went and did a Clinton story, there would be just as much outrage, but I think we're safe to say Les Moonves is not ordering the Clinton saga in any version at this hour.

SCARBOROUGH: All right, thank you so much, Matt Drudge. We are going to have a lot more on this tomorrow night. We certainly hope you'll come back and tell us more. It is a remarkable story, a remarkable media story about what the alternative media can do. Thank you so much, Matt Drudge.

SCARBOROUGH: The "Drudge Report" is reporting tonight that "The Reagans," the mini-series, has been pulled. And as I asked Matt Drudge before, I personally think this is going to be a bigger media story than even Matt Drudge breaking impeachment back in 1998.


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