Blumenthal v. Drudge

NOTE: The information and commentary contained in this database entry are based on court filings and other informational sources that may contain unproven allegations made by the parties. The truthfulness and accuracy of such information is likely to be in dispute. Information contained in this entry is current as of the last event mentioned in the "Description" section below; additional proceedings might have taken place in this matter since this event.

Summary

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

08/27/1997

Status: 

Concluded

Location: 

District of Columbia

Disposition: 

Dismissed (partial)
Settled (total)

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

N/A
Sidney Blumenthal, a former White House Assistant, and his wife Jacqueline sued Matt Drudge, publisher of The Drudge Report, and America Online Inc. over statements Drudge published in August 1997. According to the complaint, Drudge falsely accused Blumenthal of engaging... read full description
Parties

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Matt Drudge; America Online, Inc.

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual
Intermediary

Location of Party: 

  • District of Columbia

Location of Party: 

  • California

Legal Counsel: 

Jonathan W. Emord, Manuel S. Klausner, Patrick J. Manshardt (for Drudge); John Payton, Patrick Joseph Carome (for AOL)
Description

Sidney Blumenthal, a former White House Assistant, and his wife Jacqueline sued Matt Drudge, publisher of The Drudge Report, and America Online Inc. over statements Drudge published in August 1997. According to the complaint, Drudge falsely accused Blumenthal of engaging in spousal abuse.

On August 10, 1997, Drudge transmitted the report from Los Angeles, California by email to his direct subscribers and posted the information about Blumenthal on AOL, which was hosting the Drudge Report at the time. After receiving a letter from plaintiffs' counsel on August 11, 1997, Drudge retracted the story through a special edition of the Drudge Report posted on AOL and emailed to his subscribers. Drudge later publicly apologized to the Blumenthals, but they still filed a defamation lawsuit on August 27, 1997.

In October 1997, Drudge and AOL filed motions for summary judgment. On April 22, 1998, the court refused to dismiss the case against Drudge, finding that the court had personal jurisdiction over him, but granted AOL's motion on the basis that AOL was immune from liability under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Blumenthal v. Drudge, 992 F. Supp. 44 (D.D.C. 1998).

During a discovery dispute in April 1999, the federal district court applied the constitutional reporter's privilege to Drudge and denied Blumenthal access to information about Drudge's sources. See Blumenthal v. Drudge, 186 F.R.D. 246, 244-45 (D.D.C. 1999). 

Blumenthal dropped his lawsuit and eventually reached a settlement with Drudge in early 2001. According to Wikipedia, "the settlement involv[ed] a small payment to Drudge over having missed a deposition. In his book, The Clinton Wars, Blumenthal claimed he was forced to settle because he could no longer financially afford the suit."

On May 9, 2001, the parties filed a stipulation of voluntary dismissal.

Details

Content Type: 

  • Text

Publication Medium: 

Email
Website

Subject Area: 

  • Defamation
  • Shield Laws
  • Third-Party Content
  • Section 230
Court Information & Documents

Jurisdiction: 

  • District of Columbia

Source of Law: 

  • District of Columbia

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the District of Columbia

Court Type: 

Federal

Case Number: 

1:97-cv-1968 (PLF)

Relevant Documents: