In Which Tucker Carlson Hoists Himself By His Own Petard
A couple of weeks ago I noted that the small Bob Menendez prostitution scandal might be worth keeping an eye on. And damned if it isn’t turning out to be the best Schadenfreude story of the year so far.
As a reminder, over the past several months the Daily Caller has been pushing the story that Menendez, a Democratic Senator from New Jersey, paid to have sex with three prostitutes (at times referred to as underage girls) in the Dominican Republic. What’s more, the Daily Caller reported that after the girls performed their services Menendez partially stiffed them. [Insert obligatory and inappropriate joke here.] This story was based entirely on interviews given by all three of the prostitutes, and well as the attorney that represented them.
It made for great copy. Not only is Menendez a liberal, he’s one of the more visible champions of immigration reform. If there is a more Daily Caller-esque narrative than “Leading Senate Democrat Fights for Illegals to Stay So He Can Schtup Their Daughters,” I can’t think of it. (Well, maybe if you swapped out “Leading Senate Democrat” for “Obama,” but still.) It bears noting that other major news organizations were also contacted by the girls’ attorney and chose not to run the story because they found the witnesses to not be in any way credible. (This, by the way, includes Fox News.)
The story began to crumble early this month when the Washington Post tracked down one of the underage prostitutes who confessed that the entire story was fabricated. In a sworn affidavit, she explained that all three of the girls interviewed by the Daily Caller had been paid to make the false allegations; they had never even met the Senator.
Now, let’s pause here for a brief moment and consider. Let’s say that you are the founder and editor-in-chief of a news site – a news site that you created with the express propose of providing conservatives with a news source “that actually cares about accuracy” and does “not [enforce] any kind of ideological orthodoxy on anyone.” What would you do? You would certainly be forgiven for saying to yourself, “If other respected journalists found this story totally lacking in credibility and now this whole other shoe has dropped, maybe we need to slow down and make sure we know what the hell we’re talking about.” You might say that. Were to do so, however, you would not be Tucker Carlson.
Carlson began to publically mock the Post in tweets and interviews as the Daily Caller repeatedly issued statements that they were standing behind the story as reported. At first Carlson and the Daily Caller insisted that the woman the Post interviewed was not involved with the initial Menendez story; however, this turned out to not be the case. In fact, police in the Dominican Republic released the findings of their own investigation in which all of the women involved confessed to having been paid to give false testimony to the Daily Caller.
And still Carlson and the Daily Caller stood behind the facts as they had reported them. Their reasoning? Basically, you just can’t trust a “hooker” (to use Carlson’s word) to tell the truth, and you certainly can’t trust a news organization that relies on the word of a one. (Never mind, of course, that the Daily Caller’s story was based entirely on the testimony of said “hookers.”) In a move that would later be revealed as “just digging that hole deeper,” the Daily Caller hung it’s integrity on the word of the attorney that had represented the prostitutes, Melanio Figueroa. The Caller repeatedly said that they checked with Figueroa, who assured them that the accusations of payoffs were “totally false… a lie.”
What an ironic delight, then, that Figueroa has come out this week and claimed that he and the prostitutes were bribed after all- by the Daily Caller.
Of course, the Daily Caller categorically denies that it did any such thing. And to be fair, it’s pretty doubtful that they did. After all, Figueroa also claims that CNN Espanol, Univision and Telemundo offered similar payoffs.
Still, there is a delightful, poetic justice to the whole affair. Carlson and the Daily Caller bit hard on an anti-Demoract story they desperately wanted to be true – a story that had so many holes in it that not even Fox was willing to run with it. As the story began to crumble in their hands, they refused to admit possible error. Indeed, they dug in their heels and slung mud at those that questioned their reporting. And now here they are having to defend their reputation against scurrilous allegations – allegations made by the same people they swore were tellers of God’s own truth.
In what will come as surprise to no one that follows the Daily Caller, Carlson and his editors are now calling Figueroa a liar – and yet somehow are continuing to stand behind the facts of the story as reported. For Carlson, Figueroa inhabits that nebulous area of truth where accusations made against Democrats are factual and should always be believed, and accusations made against conservative news sites are false and should always be discarded.
Yesterday Carlson called other reporters’ coverage of this story “amateurish” and “embarrassing,” which suggests that so long as they get page hits the Daily Caller will continue stand behind any old thing, no matter how laughable it may be. Had they any credibility left, I’d find this worrisome.
Update: I should have noted that the worst casualty in all of this sloppiness by the Daily Caller is that they have managed to give cover to Menendez, a public servant who does in fact appear to be sleazy and ethically challenged. They may well have handed him a political pass on his current ethics investigation troubles.
As I so often say here, when trying to convince people of something important the worst thing you can do to shoot yourself in the foot is fabricate or defend fallacious “facts” to make your point. Once the truth is outed, you’ll find you’ve only succeeded in convincing people that your main point is invalid – even when it’s not.