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Where's the wildest party on the web?

December 10, 1997

Drudge is Defendant In Online Libel Suit

By Ronald Boalt, Bulldog Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES - White House aides Sidney Blumenthal and Jacqueline Jordan Blumenthal filed suit against online journalist Matt Drudge and America Online, which carries the Drudge Report.

In August 1997, Drudge allegedly reported that Sidney Blumenthal had a "spousal abuse past."

Subsequently, according to the complaint, Drudge reported that court records related to the spousal abuse existed, according to unnamed White House sources. Drudge later retracted the report. The Blumenthals are seeking $30M in compensatory and punitive damages In U,S. Court foir he District of Columbia.

The complaint alleges counts for Defamation; False Light Invasion Of Privacy; Intentional Infliction Of Emotional Distress; Compensatory And Punitive Damages

Sidney Blumenthal works at The White House in the post of Assistant to the Clinton, a position to which president William J. Clinton appointed him. Prior to that, he worked for twenty-seven years as a journalist for such publications as The New Yorker, The New Republic, and The Washington Post writing columns primarily about national political issues.

Blumenthal's wife, Jacqueline works for The White House as Director of the President's Commission On White House Fellowships, also an appointive position br presiden Clinton from June 1996.

The complaint alleges that the "Internet" is the international computer network of interoperable packet switched data networks through which persons obtain news and information. And that over one million (1,000,000) computers in the United States were linked directly to the Internet over major network commercial "online services," such as CompuServe, Prodigy, Microsoft Network, and AOL. AOL is being sued also.

More than forty million (40,000,000) persons had access to the Internet, and used that access.

That, Drudge was an "information content provider" who provided information through the Internet and other interactive computer services through what defendant Drudge called the "Drudge Report."

The the Drudge Report via electronic mail exceeded eighty-five thousand (85,000) subscribers solicited information from his sources intended for publication in the Drudge Report through the Internet, telephone calls, facsimile transmissions, electronic mail, and personal visits to the District of Columbia.

Drudge published information from the Drudge Report specifically and intentionally directed to persons located in the District of Columbia. That Drudge himself, no person edited, checked, verified, or supervised the researching, writing, and publication by defendant Drudge of the Drudge Report.

Drudge, it asserts, knew that at least twenty percent (20%) of the information that defendant Drudge published in the Drudge Report was false and did nothing to determine whether that information was false.

That when AOL hired Drudge on July 15, 1997, AOL issued a press release entitled "AOL Hires Runaway Gossip Success Matt Drudge." It stated that the press release was copyrighted by defendant AOL in 1997 and saud, in part as follows:

"The Drudge Report, solely created by Matt Drudge two years ago and still a one-man operation, found success on the World Wide Web with his take-no-prisoners newsbreaks. . . . Giving the Drudge Report a home on America Online (Keyword: Drudge) opens up the floodgates to an audience ripe for Drudge's aggressive brand of reporting. By giving Drudge both a home on AOL and an AOL keyword all his own, AOL made Matt Drudge instantly accessible to members who crave instant gossip and news breaks.

Drudge had published information in the Drudge Report which had been provided to defendant Drudge by persons opposed to President William J. Clinton and the Clinton Administration, which information was false.

That Sidney Blumenthal, as Assistant to the President, occupies one of the highest positions in the White House, and has responsibilities for policy issues and political matters and that Drudge and AOL, were attempting to cause Sidney Blumenthal to resign from his position as Assistant to President William J. Clinton. And the same for Jacqueline Blumenthal.

The Blumenthals are demanding judgment against Drudge and AOL, for compensatory damages in the amount Ten Million Dollars ($10,000,000.00) and Twenty Million Dollars ($20,000,000.00) in punitive damages plus costs.


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