A Small News Story Worth Watching Unfold

It will probably never change minds, of course.  After all, each side of the aisle will have news organs that “prove” their side is right.  Still, the developments in the Menendez prostitution scandal might turn out to be something far bigger and much worse – though for now it seems unclear for whom it might be worse.

Last month the Daily Caller reported that they had interviews of women claiming that New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menedez paid them for sex; this followed a reports that Menendez was under investigation by the FBI for hiring under-age prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. This week, however, new developments may seriously change the very nature of the story’s narrative:

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.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.

At this point both the Post and Caller seem to be figuring out whose reporting is correct.  (Or to be more precise, each is claiming they are in the right and leaving it to others to decide.)  Dashiell Bennet over at the Atlantic Wire has a pretty good summation of what we do and don’t know so far.

Still, it seems that what started out as a run of the mill sex scandal may turn out to be something far more interesting.  Political rivals paying prostitutes to lie about a sitting US Senator would be a pretty big story.  That those same rivals may well be connected to the Daily Caller would be even bigger.  So too would the story that Menendez is now paying hookers to lie about lying.  And of course, above all of this looms the very real possibility that Menendez and the Caller are each despicable, dirty, and guilty of betraying their publics’ trust.

As the investigations unfold over the next several months – and as we watch the way in which the findings are presented to the public by various competing news sources – it might well end up becoming one of the more interesting stories of the early year.

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29 thoughts on “A Small News Story Worth Watching Unfold

  1. I hope the truth – whatever it is – is discovered so that the culpable party is properly disgraced. Else it’ll just be one of those things where the assumption is that this is proof of how despicable the other side is.

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  2. What bugs me about this whole story is that there really is an issue here regarding Menendez’s relationship with the doctor and his free trips to the DR. The story definitely has some serious potential corruption issues going on here (a NJ Democrat faces corruption questions? Shocking, I know!) that ultimately may have caused Menendez some serious problems, maybe even rising to the level of forcing him to step down. But instead the right wing media made the story all about the always shoddy prostitution claims.

    Now Menendez gets to look like a victim, and the corruption issues can be largely swept under the rug.

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  3. Standard libertarian response: If prostitution was legal & regulated, this would be a less of an issue (unless he really was going after underage girls/boys).

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  4. I’m not invested in the story at all, but at a first read, the Atlantic Wire summation doesn’t seem “pretty good” to me — the writer is trying hard to keep treating the WaPo article as a strong refutation of the Daily Caller report, even though it looks a lot like they talked to the wrong woman. And the last update seems to not reflect well on WaPo’s credibility on this.

    I do agree with Mark that the possible corruption should be the bigger story in any case.

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