In September of 2004, in the run-up to the elections, Dan Rather and CBS news ran with an unproven — and ultimately shown to be fabricated — story that George W. Bush’s friends had falsified his National Guard records, and that Bush had not really fulfilled his Guard obligations, thus allowing him to avoid the draft on false premises. Rather ran the story on 60-Minutes. When the story was proved false, CBS and Dan Rather were correctly excoriated; Rather was shamed into retirement and CBS had to make a humiliating public retraction. It may well have been a key to Bush’s re-election.
The story just seemed so true. There had to be truth to it. Everyone knew that Bush was a slacker back then. And his election in 2000 was just so wrong. So CBS, and decades-long anchor man Dan Rather, defenestrated prudence and due diligence, leading to a short-lived embarrassment.
Which brings us to the junior US Senator from New Jersey, Bob Menendez. Menendez, who has been in NJ politics pretty much since getting elected to the local school board at age 19, just had to be guilty of something. After all, he’s a politician (a Democrat, horrors), he’s been in politics for decades, he’s from New Jersey, and he’s an integral part of the Machine that runs Hudson county.
Menendez was recently exposed as having received numerous “free” trips on a private jet from big-time campaign contributor Dr Salomon Melgen of Florida. Turns out they regularly vacationed in the Dominican Republic together. News hacks couldn’t help themselves, and expanded this to a story that included regular visits to DR prostitutes. And not just prostitutes, but under-aged teenage prostitutes.
Menendez, whose parents were Cuban refugees, confessed to the free trips almost immediately, and paid Melgen (whose office contents were seized by the FBI) $58,000 to more than pay for the executive quality of the trips. But he fought the allegations of paying for sex — minors or not.
The Daily Caller (AKA “DC”), a conservative on-line 24 hour news service, picked up the story and ran with it. Menendez was then called out as tangled in dark allegations by others, including Fox News, Politico and the New York Times.
Turns out, it was a set up. DC did not do their due diligence. They just reported the story as it was reported to them. As it turns out, the young ladies who testified to their liaison with Menendez had no idea what they were doing. They were paid all right — they were paid to give false reports. They had no idea of who Menendez was; and his claims not to know who they were are correct.
In Fox’s defense, they didn’t ever appear to embrace the story, and were careful to state that these were merely allegations. Same with Politico and the NY Times. Still, that type of reporting needlessly ruins careers and they should be admonished.
For the Daily Caller it’s “DC” for “don’t consider” and “U” for unsubscribe.
As far as I can tell, the worst thing Menendez has done is decide not to run against real live crook, Goldman-Sachs executive and idiot Jon Corzine in the 2000 NJ Senate primary.
Shame, shame, shame on DC. I hope they don’t live this down for at least 10 years, unlike Rather and CBS, who are somehow in this Alice-in-Wonderland world back to social respectability. Read it here in the Washington Post.