‘Holding onto’ stories that don’t seem true

Updated
 
'Holding onto' stories that don't seem true
'Holding onto' stories that don't seem true
Getty Images

We talked yesterday about The Daily Caller’s allegations against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), which appear to be quickly unraveling. As the day progressed, we learned a little more about the story, none of which is helpful to the controversial conservative site.

To briefly recap, The Daily Caller reported in November that Menendez allegedly paid for sex in the Dominican Republic. The article appeared to be based on largely non-existent evidence; the FBI found nothing to support the allegations, and yesterday, the Washington Post reported that a Dominican escort now says she was “paid to make up the claims and has never met or seen the senator.”

The Daily Caller has not retracted its report and is now trying to verify the accuracy of the article it ran four months ago. Tucker Carlson, meanwhile, seems delighted to have his often-derided website get so much attention.

The more interesting twist came when ABC News said it was also offered the story, but didn’t want it.

Last fall, Republican operatives, who insisted on anonymity, helped arrange the woman’s appearance, along with two additional women, in back-to-back, on-line interviews with ABC News and a conservative news website, the Daily Caller.

In the weeks before the women were presented to be interviewed, the operatives also distributed what was described as “surveillance reports” by private detectives reporting on naked pool parties at the Dominican Republic home of a Menendez friend and campaign contributor, Dr. Salomon Melgin, a Florida eye surgeon.

ABC News did not broadcast or initially report on the claims because of doubts about the women’s veracity and identity.

ABC considered the allegations and just didn’t find them believable. In fact, the network asked one of the women how she allegedly knew the man named “Bob” was a senator, and she replied that she put the name “Bob” into a search engine and a picture of Menendez popped up.

Right. Sure it did.

In an amusing twist, now the right is angry with ABC for failing to run with a story the network found literally unbelievable.

For context, I should note that dubious sources approach major news organizations with “scoops” just about every day. Media professionals with journalistic standards then scrutinize the reliability of the story and decide whether to bring the information to the public. In this case, ABC considered the Menendez story pushed by the unnamed Republican operatives, deemed it unworthy of broadcast, and moved on – at which point The Daily Caller ran with it.

Carlson’s outfit still suggests their escort is a different escort, but ABCs report added that the “attorney who presented the affidavit Monday identified the woman to reporters in attendance as the female wearing a yellow shirt in a video on the Daily Caller website.”

So, we’re done, right? Wrong. The reporter who originally wrote The Daily Caller story complained yesterday, “ABC News has been holding onto interviews with alleged Menendez hookers for MONTHS.”

You see, for some on the right, if a news organization scrutinizes a story and finds that it’s lacking in evidence and substantiation, the outlet should present it to the public anyway – at least if the story involves trying to make a Democrat look bad – because to do otherwise would be to “hold onto” a potential controversy.

It’s the kind of reaction that helps explain why conservative media outlets have fared so poorly recently.

Bob Menendez and Conservative Media

'Holding onto' stories that don't seem true

Updated