Is this the end of free speech online, or just a well-deserved comeuppance? Sidney Blumenthal, an adviser to President Clinton, slapped a $30 million lawsuit on Internet gossip columnist Matt Drudge, making good on what he has been threatening for weeks. Earlier this month, Drudge wrote in his "Drudge Report" — which is read by more than 60,000 of the digerati — that Blumenthal was a wife-beater and that there were court records to prove it. Drudge later retracted the story and apologized. But Blumenthal's lawyer, William McDaniel, is pressing ahead. He has fingered America Online, which carries the Drudge Report, as a defendant in the case. Both Blumenthal and McDaniel seem determined to prove that spreading falsehoods online should be treated no different than those disseminated in print.