Here Come De Drudge

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The accusations, retorts and recriminations have all been aired and rebutted, and now it's showtime: Sidney Blumenthal's $30 million libel suit against cyber-hack Matt Drudge opens Wednesday in Washington.

So far Drudge has largely benefited from his notoriety. The Lewinsky story was especially fortuitous: Michael Isikoff's Newsweek scoop simply fell into his lap. For once, Drudge was able to break a sensational story without having to retract it -- in contrast to the disastrous fallout from his unsubstantiated allegations of spousal abuse against Blumenthal. Ironically, his case takes place in D.C.'s federal courthouse -- three floors up from the Lewinsky grand jury.

To hear Drudge talk about it, you'd think libel was protected by the First Amendment, and that the White House is a priori disqualified from defending itself. But the courtroom is likely to be a bit chillier than the television studios where Drudge has mingled happily this last month with fellow talking heads. And the jury is less likely to swallow their contempt of Drudge so as not to appear uncool.