Democrats and the mainstream media have joined in attacking the Daily Caller over its report late last year that alleged that Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) had patronized prostitutes in the Dominican Republic.
Menendez denied the allegation, but admitted to accepting flights to the Dominican Republic from a campaign donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, in apparent violation of Senate ethics rules, and reimbursed Dr. Melgen for the flight costs.
Now the original story has come under attack after the Washington Post published an article Monday in which a woman who claims to have made a videotaped accusation against Menendez retracted, saying she had been paid to lie.
The left and the media have treated the Washington Post story, by story, by Carol D. Leonnig and Ernesto Londoño, as if it is a direct refutation of the Daily Caller story by Matthew Boyle (now with Breitbart News).
Yet there is no clear evidence that the woman who is recanting was one of the sources for the Daily Caller story.
(Update: ABC News reports that the attorney who revealed the recantation identified the woman as one of the Daily Caller’s sources, based on a yellow shirt she wore in a video recording of her accusation. But the Miami Herald reported that the woman now recanting her accusation wore a green shirt in the Daily Caller video. It is unclear whether the two women are indeed the same, and even less clear that the two videos are the same.)
And as the Miami Herald reported Monday evening, even her new story has been rejected by a lawyer accused of orchestrating her accusation, who called that claim “a lie.”
Notably, the Post did not even bother reaching out to the Daily Caller, or to Boyle, to confirm whether the woman who featured in its story was, in fact, one of the sources used in the original article about Menendez.
The Washington Post‘s Erik Wemple–a frequent critic of conservative media–aptly summarized the situation: “The Post and the Daily Caller are quite clearly talking past each other on this Menendez stuff.”
The Post story does not refute the Daily Caller story–that is a false premise. Rather, the Post has merely introduced another story that may or may not be relevant to the underlying accusation.
Furthermore, the Post story has been contested, and comes from an interested party in the controversy, not from an independent source. Yet the mainstream media have wielded the Post story as if it represents the beginning of a vindication for Menendez.
In fact, the questions about Menendez’s relationship with Dr. Melgen have only just begun to be asked.
Breitbart News reported last month that Menendez may have taken at least one additional flight to the Dominican Republic in 2012–one he had not already admitted when repaying the costs of other flights.
Regardless of whether the prostitution allegations reported by the Daily Caller are true–and their basis remains the same even after the Post story–they led to a trail of ethical problems that is the heart of the scandal.