In an interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, Daily Caller Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson defended his website's claim that Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) paid women for sex in the Dominican Republic, but he dodged the question of whether the women interviewed by the Daily Caller might have been paid by political operatives to tell their story, as evidence from ABC News and The Washington Post now suggest.
Responding to O'Reilly's inquiry about whether the allegations were fabricated, Carlson stopped short of declaring that the women the Daily Caller interviewed were not paid to tell their story. Instead, he said that he was satisfied that the person who brought this story to the Caller "received no money from anyone," later saying, "Did our source take money? ...[T]he answer is, no, he didn't."
The Washington Post reported on March 4 that a woman who accused Menendez of paying her for sex has now claimed in an affidavit that she was paid to smear Menendez and that her allegations were not true. Menendez has consistently denied the allegations, which were first reported by the Daily Caller in November 2012, using two anonymous Dominican women as sources.
ABC News revealed on March 5 that they had previously interviewed the woman in the Post's article, and that her story, which she now claims was false, mirrored that of the women interviewed by the Daily Caller in November. The Washington Post's Erik Wemple described the ABC report as a "game ender" for the story:
Three bombshells from ABC News:
Bombshell No. 1: The recanter yesterday was identified as one Nexis de los Santos Santana. That's news to ABC News:
In her interview with ABC News before the election, she said her name was Michelle Rodriguez and that she had come forward because Menendez had paid her only $100 of the $500 she had expected. She now says she was coached to make the claim.
Bombshell No. 2 (nuclear): From the story: "Asked during the interview with ABC News how she knew that the man named "Bob" was a United States Senator, one of the other women said she had put the name "Bob" into a web search site and a picture of Menendez popped up." Here's what came up on the Erik Wemple Blog's computer when we searched on "Bob."
Bombshell No. 3: ABC News reports a troubling degree of sameness among the women's accounts: "Her account of sex with Menendez in the video interview was almost word-for-word the account given by two other women who were produced for interviews about having sex with the man they knew only as 'Bob.'" In other words, there appears to have been some coaching involved here.
The ABC News story isn't a game changer; it's a game ender.
Yet when presented the opportunity to shore up the Daily Caller's original reporting, Carlson spent his prime time interview attacking the Washington Post story and dodging the question of whether the women his website sourced to attack a sitting U.S. senator weren't bribed to do so.