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Former White House aide Sidney Blumenthal dropped a $30 million libel suit against Internet gossip columnist Matt Drudge on Tuesday and agreed to pay Drudge’s side $2,500 for travel costs. Blumenthal filed the suit in 1997 after Drudge reported a story that suggested Blumenthal beat his wife, Jacqueline. Drudge apologized and retracted the report almost immediately after it appeared on his Web site. The lawsuit, filed in federal court, raised potentially groundbreaking issues about electronic journalism because Blumenthal and his wife also sued America Online, which carried Drudge’s column. AOL argued that it was not acting as a publisher because it simply reprinted the column rather than supervising or editing it. A judge later agreed, severing AOL from the case. The Washington Post, in a report on its Web site Tuesday night, quoted Drudge as saying that “the irony that Blumenthal has to pay me to let him out of a lawsuit he brought says it all from my end.” Blumenthal told the Post he dropped the suit because Drudge “is backed by unlimited funds from political supporters who use a tax-exempt foundation. He’d like to see the lawsuit go on endlessly.” “Suing Drudge was the right thing to do because it was the only way to make absolutely clear that his story was a malicious and reckless lie,” Blumenthal was quoted as saying. “Drudge has placed enough burden on our family for four years and we’re moving on with our lives.” Blumenthal said the suit has cost him tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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