White House and Drudge go mano a mano

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    Matt Drudge finds himself in a high-powered tennis match today with the White House. Drudge linked to a video yesterday that led to the White House to create its own rebuttal. In return, he's linked to another video this morning.
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It's like a high-octane tennis match between Matt Drudge and the White House. Drudge links to a video. The White House responds with their own video. Now Drudge links to another one.

It's like Connors and McEnroe. Kinda.

Whoever the players, you know your website has a lot of influence when the White House feels compelled to react to it. It's doubtful they would respond to a video on Lolcats, but the almighty Drudge Report is another story.

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Yesterday, Drudge linked to a video that presents what it calls "evidence Obama and the Democrats health care goal is [to] ultimately eliminate private insurance." It contains outtakes of the president speaking at different times discussing his visions for health care reform.

In a segment called "Obama admitting his plan will ELIMINATE private insurance (over time)," Obama is shown at a 2007 event saying, "I don't think we're going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. There's going to be potentially some transition process. I can envision a decade out or 15 years out or 20 years out."

Busted? Doomed? Is the video the equivalent of the judge, jury, and the executioner?

It caused enough concern that the Obama team decided to respond with their own video hosted by Linda Douglass, the communications director for the White House Office of Health Reform.

"One of my jobs is to keep track of all the disinformation that’s out there about health-insurance reform. And there are a lot of very deceiving headlines out there right now, such as this one," she said pointing to Drudge's site. "Well, nothing can be farther from the truth."

"You know the people who always try to scare people whenever you try to bring them health insurance reform are at it again," she continued. "And they’re taking sentences and phrases out of context, and cobbling them together to leave a very false impression. The truth is that the president has been talking to the American people a lot about health-insurance reform and what is at stake for them."

Drudge has now updated his site and is linking to a speech Obama gave in 2003. "Obama 2003 (uncut): Single payer health care plan, that is what I would like to see" reads the headline.

"I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care plan and I see no reason why the US -- the wealthiest country in the history of the world [which] is spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care -- cannot provide basic health insurance to everyone," he said to applause.

"A universal health care plan, that is what I would like to see. But as all of you know, we're not going to get there immediately because we gotta take back the White House, the Senate, and the House."

Much like Robert Gibbs was pummeled by reporters yesterday on taxes, he'll be sure to get questions about the Drudge skirmish today during his press briefing.

By the way, do you find it odd that the White House would respond to a website's claim? Although they're treading in to new territory by creating a video rebuttal, Drudge's website is a news outlet -- a very influential news outlet. They're doing what a political offices have always done when they disagree with an allegation.

And this is the type of tech savvy thing that the Obama folks have shown they've got a penchant for. Right?

Conservative commentator Mary Katherine Ham doesn't buy it. "As the White House should have learned by now, picking a fight with a guy like Drudge can be counterproductive, just like picking a fight with say, Rush Limbaugh," she writes.

While you can see where Ham is going with this, Drudge is a different animal. He's invisible, making him a more powerful opponent. Plus, he doesn't have the baggage of a Limbaugh. In a hand-to-hand fight, we're guessing Drudge beats Limbaugh.

But the jury is still out on this one...

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