BOB GARFIELD: For scandalmongers, peeping toms and the garden variety news junkie there is an on line paradise called thesmokinggun.com. Where else would you find private NASA e-mails related to the Shuttle disaster, affidavits attesting to Michael Jackson's indiscretions, the bondage photos of a Joe Millionaire finalist, or documents pertaining to the drug arrest of the crypto-stoner Dell computer kid. Court TV which bought thesmokinggun two years ago regularly features these finds on the cable channel, but the site is the brainchild of two men, and one of them joins me now. Daniel Green is the managing editor of smokinggun.com. Danny, welcome to OTM! DANIEL GREEN: Yeah! Thank you! BOB GARFIELD: You and William Bastone started the site back in 1997. What inspired you to start smokinggun? DANIEL GREEN: Bill and I were long-time reporters in New York. Bill had covered organized crime for the Village Voice and I was a freelance writer. And we'd oftentimes come across interesting documents -- police reports, court files, FBI files -- and there was really no place to publish them, and we thought the internet would be a perfect place. BOB GARFIELD: So describe some of the early postings. DANIEL GREEN:I think the first thing we posted was an FBI memo which indicated that the Bureau knew Elvis Presley had a drug addiction, and this was several years before Presley died, so we put it up and asked the question, you know, "Could the FBI have saved Elvis?" and-- nobody noticed. I don't think anybody's ever written us [LAUGHS] about the story. But we thought it was sort of a bang-off way to, to begin the site. BOB GARFIELD:When you're reading the newspaper and you read a story or when you just see a person and think about him-- are you always constantly, obsessively thinking about what documents may be attached to the person or to the story? DANIEL GREEN: Absolutely. Let me give you an example. About two years ago the actor Ben Affleck was on the cover of GQ Magazine and in the course of the story he said that he would like to run for Congress some day. So we did a little research and it turned out he not only wanted to run for Congress some day but he had done a lot of work for Al Gore in the presidential election that November --he had traveled across the country as part of Al Gore's Get Out the Vote Campaign. He'd appeared at a midnight rally the night before election trying to get young people to get out the vote. He appeared on the Rosie O'Donnell Show election day; he in fact told Rosie I'm going out to vote right now. Well we saw this and, and I looked at one of the guys in the office and I said you know what -- I bet Ben Affleck isn't registered to vote! So we checked the records -- we checked New York - [LAUGHTER] we checked Boston -- we checked Los Angeles -any place we thought of -- not only hadn't he voted that November but he hadn't actually voted in about 10 years and wasn't even registered in New York City where-- where he lived. BOB GARFIELD:Now that's a small and fun little gotcha. How come other people with much bigger staffs and-- presumably a lot of time on their hands aren't getting to this material first? DANIEL GREEN: I don't think a lot of them have the skills. They come from entertainment reporting backgrounds which don't really teach the kind of investigative paper trail skills that we have -- that we developed when we were writing about city councilmen or mayors or members of the Mafia -- you know that's where you learn to, to go through a court file or how to find a police report or what's available through the Federal Freedom of Information Act. And we've taken those skills and we aim them in a little bit of a different place. BOB GARFIELD: What do you think is the most significant thing that thesmokinggun has revealed? DANIEL GREEN:One of the things we did that I think was terrific and did get some worldwide attention was we got Timothy Leary's FBI file, and going through it, it turned out that he was in contact with the FBI quite a bit in the late '60s and early '70s and was giving up information on some of his friends including some of the people who helped spring him from jail. So I think those kinds of stories where you get an FBI file and you're able to poke a hole in a commonly-held belief is something that we're, we're very, very proud of. BOB GARFIELD: Have you had a look at Saddam Hussein's declaration of disarmament? DANIEL GREEN:No. There are a lot of reporters who do a terrific job at that. We don't claim to cover everything, although we just posted a document that was released as part of this case in Illinois -- there was a group of fundraisers who were apparently siphoning money to Al Qaeda and there was a memo about the first meeting of Al Qaeda in '98 between Bin Laden and-- one of his confederates, and that was very interesting! It said that-- in the original meeting that the plan was -- and this is a quote -- all members of Al Qaeda will have good manners. [LAUGHS] And I think they stuck to that, don't you? BOB GARFIELD:With all due respect to everything else that you do on thesmokinggun, my favorite [LAUGHS] category of your postings is the celebrity riders -- the riders to celebrity contracts for-- performance gigs. That's where I learned that Bruce Springsteen will have 6 Stonyfield Yogurt Non-Fat Assorted Flavors including Plain and Vanilla but absolutely not including Lemon or he will not go on stage. So-- that's my favorite [LAUGHS]-- DANIEL GREEN:They're all funny. Jennifer Lopez had a pretty funny one where backstage she wanted a, a white room, white table, white couch; she wanted chicken and beans and cookies and a 45 foot trailer. And the only part that's especially strange about that one was that rider was for a, a charity video she was shooting. [LAUGHTER] And the proceeds of that were, were going to the families of September 11th victims, so--we always thought - you know it's - you're kind of missing the point. BOB GARFIELD: Well, Danny Green, thank you very much! DANIEL GREEN: Thank you! BOB GARFIELD: Danny Green is managing editor of the web site thesmokinggun. BROOKE GLADSTONE: Coming up -- why the sweeps are obsolete, the comic strips are stale and Godzilla still inspires in a shabby rubber suit. BOB GARFIELD: This is On the Media from NPR.