The Daily Caller's Call Girl's Total Recall

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 4 2013 7:16 PM

The Daily Caller's Call Girl's Total Recall

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Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson arrives at the Bloomberg afterparty following the White House Correspondents' Dinner April 26, 2008 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Four months ago, The Daily Caller ran an explosive, Drudge-leading story with a dynamite, Drudge-worthy hed:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Women: Sen. Bob Menendez paid us for sex in the Dominican Republic
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Two Dominican women, interviewed via video, claimed "they met Menendez around Easter at Casa de Campo" and were shortchanged. The senator "was nice at first, but then later he did not seem to care about her," according to a lawyer, Melanio Figueroa, who set up the talk.

We learned in the months since then that CREW and ABC News had been presented with these allegations; CREW gave them to the FBI, and ABC News didn't end up running the story. The network's refusal to do so, naturally, fit into the narrative: The MSM was protecting a Democrat. Only after a Menendez donor, Salomon Melgen, had an office raided by the FBI, did the MSM pick up on a whiff of Menendez scandal. Melgen was the man who, according to subsequent Daily Caller stories, facilitated the parties. According to the rest of the media's investigations, the bigger, provable problem was that Menendez had elbowed into negotiations over shipping rights in a way that would have enriched his friend. "The Menendez scandal" became a Frankenstein monster, half well-sourced financial story, half unconfirmed sex story. It was the sex tale, the Undernews, that became infamous.

Matt Boyle, the investigative reporter who broke the Daily Caller story, has moved on to Breitbart.com. His last break, on February 24, was that a "local citizen" had seen Menendez dining with Melgen before the flight to DR might have taken place. ("The menu is one of a typical diner, with lots to choose from and many breakfast items. Coffee and tea are staples for most guests.")

The Washington Post, which put investigative reporter Carol Leonnig on the story, has a different kind of scoop.

An escort who appeared on a video claiming Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) paid her for sex has told Dominican Republic police that she was instead paid to make up the claims in a tape recording and has never met or seen the senator before, according to court documents and two people briefed on her claim. The woman identified a lawyer who approached her and a friend to make the videotape, according to affidavits obtained by the Post. That man has in turn identified another lawyer who gave him a script for the tape and paid him to find women to fabricate the claims, the affidavits say.

The insta-chatter on this story, from conservatives, centers on a common question: Is the MSM covering up for a Democrat? Well, consider the source—Leonnig, who ran point on the paper's Solyndra coverage, with details (the souped-up conference room, the glass in the landfill) that became part of Americans for Prosperity ad campaigns.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.