Matt, Bill, and Monica

Dear David,

       At least Joe Lockhart didn’t call Tim Russert and Andy Lack to complain about Matt Drudge being on the show. Sidney Blumenthal’s lawyers did it this time, which is the ethically appropriate way for a senior White House aide to try to bully the press while serving as the president’s communications director. At least I’m in good company now on Sidney’s Drudge list.
       There is something wrong with this picture.
       Here’s what I find truly revealing: If you think of this from President Clinton’s point of view, there is no one better to have out there prosecuting the president than Matt Drudge. Maybe you can draw a circle with him and the right wing, or at least a dotted line or something–but Michael Isikoff is a much more difficult sell as a right-wing nut. So from the president’s point of view, it’s good to have Drudge on Meet the Press in one of the anti-Clinton seats. It’s great, as a matter of fact, giving a basis to shift the inquiry to who’s spreading it rather than what’s being done.
       But if you’re thinking of it from Sid’s point of view, it’s terrible, because it establishes that Matt is a serious commentator, at least, treated with respect by the most respected people and thereby not necessarily best squashed like an ant, which is what his lawsuit is trying to do.
       The press is going to take it on the chin, of course, but since they’re all convinced that the president is lying and the public is too dumb to know it (the truth being, to the contrary, that the public is too smart to lose a president they consider effective over a consensual blow job), they’ll keep hammering this one. Stuart Taylor will keep reminding us that it probably wasn’t Bosnia that the president was calling Lewinsky to discuss. The president’s numbers will drop some. Once he is out of the woods, people can let him know they think he was pretty dumb, whatever he did. Meanwhile, Sid will keep playing his press games. And Drudge? The Drudge Report says he got great ratings on Meet the Press. The guy’s got a future. Maybe he’ll be worth $31 million by the time Sid gets his hands on him.