More questions about the Daily Caller's role in publicizing prostitution allegations against Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) have arisen after it was revealed that two newspapers declined to report the story after expressing concerns about the accusers' credibility.
On the same day that Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) high profile filibuster of John Brennan's nomination to head the Central Intelligence Agency received widespread media attention, another filibuster that blocked confirmation for one of President Obama's nominees went completely unnoticed by the broadcast networks and cable news channels.
Paul's filibuster, which delved into serious questions about drone policy and national security, touched off a robust debate in the media. Paul's talking filibuster garnered extensive media attention the same day. According to a Nexis search, Paul was featured in at least 20 news segments Wednesday: 9 on CNN, 6 on Fox News, 4 on MSNBC, and 1 on NBC.
By contrast, not a single broadcast network or cable news channel reported on the silent filibuster of Caitlin Halligan's nomination to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
President Obama first nominated Halligan to the DC appellate court in September 2010. Senate Republicans blocked her nomination via filibuster in December 2011. Obama renominated Halligan on January 3, but Republicans again blocked her nomination on Wednesday when 40 Senate Republicans rejected a motion that would allow her confirmation to proceed to an up-or-down vote.
As The Washington Post noted, this GOP obstruction came in the face of widespread support for Halligan in the legal community:
Against the distorted view of Ms. Halligan's record that Republicans have offered stand the endorsements of prominent legal minds both liberal and conservative, a unanimous well-qualified rating from the American Bar Association and a storied career in public service and private practice.
While Paul's rare example of a talking filibuster attracted widespread media coverage, silent filibusters have become increasingly common tools to block Obama's nominees.
A November 2012 report from the Alliance for Justice illustrated how Senators' use of the filibuster on judicial nominations has increased drastically during the Obama administration:
The strategy comes amid what the Center for American Progress has described as a judicial vacancy crisis in the federal courts system.
The contrast between the media's extensive coverage of Paul's filibuster and the one used to block Halligan rejection is a testimony to how common the silent filibuster is under the Obama administration, and why it's important for the media not to go quiet.
Tucker Carlson has defended The Daily Caller's reporting on Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) patronizing prostitutes in the Dominican Republic as "traditional, straightforward journalism" as that story has come under fire. But when Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) was accused of patronizing prostitutes in 2007, Carlson defended Vitter and lambasted the media for digging into what he described as private matters that were no business of theirs.
In their initial much-hyped pre-election bombshell, the Caller reported on allegations from two Dominican prostitutes that Menendez had paid them for sex. Menendez has repeatedly denied the allegations, and the FBI has reportedly found no evidence of their veracity.
This week the story has unraveled after the Washington Post and ABC News reported that one of the prostitutes who alleged that she had sex with Menendez has recanted her story in an affidavit and claimed that she was paid to lie about the senator. ABC further reported that they also looked into the story last year but decided not to run it because they doubted the women that they and the Caller had spoken to were telling the truth.
From the March 5 edition of MSNBC's Hardball:
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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."
Fox News has gone silent after questions emerged casting serious doubt on a Daily Caller report that Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) paid women for sex in the Dominican Republic, a report that Fox News hyped during at least 22 segments.
The Washington Post reported on March 4 that a woman who appeared in a video claiming Menendez paid her for sex now says that she was paid to make those claims, claims she now denies, as part of an effort to frame Menendez. Menendez has denied the allegations, first reported in November 2012 by the Daily Caller.
Fox News has yet to discuss the latest developments that undermine what the Daily Caller has reported for months. By contrast, Fox aggressively hyped the uncorroborated allegations when they were being pushed by the Daily Caller, discussing them during at least 22 segments since November 2012, according to a search of the Nexis database.
CNN, which also reported on the initial, uncorroborated allegations against Menendez, has reported on the latest developments.
According to the Post, two affidavits have been filed that refute the Daily Caller's story - one by a woman who claims she was paid to give false accounts about Menendez on the Daily Caller video, and one from a lawyer who claims he was misled into getting the woman to provide a false story.
As New York Magazine's Margaret Harmann noted, this is at least the second report from a legitimate news source that discredited what the Daily Caller first alleged.
The Daily Caller has since claimed that the Post spoke to the wrong woman.
Politico reported that the Post is standing behind its reporting.
Tucker Carlson, the Daily Caller co-founder and editor-in-chief, is scheduled to appear on Fox News' Special Report Tuesday night.
Update: During the March 5 edition of America Live, host Megyn Kelly reported on what she called a "new twist" in the story.
The Wall Street Journal ignored key parts of Senator Marco Rubio's (R-FL) Senate record to promote him as "bipartisan" and in "pursuit of legislative harmony." In fact, Rubio has a history of obstructionism, voting against major bipartisan legislation, blocking nominations, and filibustering Democratic initiatives in the Senate.
Last night on The O'Reilly Factor, previewing Sen. Marco Rubio's response to President Obama's State of the Union speech, Fox News political analyst Karl Rove labeled Rubio "the American experience" and declared him "probably one of the best communicators since Ronald Reagan."
Over-the-top praise of Rubio on the network is nothing new. Rubio's increasingly prominent role in the national political conversation is thanks, in part, to the help of Fox News, which has served as his primary cheerleader since his 2010 Senate campaign.
In recent weeks, Rove in particular has showered praise on Rubio and his role in the debate over immigration reform. His comparison of Rubio to Reagan on The O'Reilly Factor wasn't even the first time he had done so on Fox's airwaves this month; he made similar comments during a February 4 appearance on Special Report.
Rove isn't alone in his adoration of the Florida senator. Fox personalities have fawned over Rubio on-air for years, boosted his 2010 Florida Senate run (including helping him fundraise on-air), hosted him for dozens of primetime appearances on the network, and repeatedly touted him as an ideal vice presidential pick for former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
In this report:
Fox News political analyst Karl Rove and Erick Erickson, the network's newest contributor, are at war over the political direction of the Republican Party.
On Saturday The New York Times reported that Rove was backing the Conservative Victory Project, a new group supported by "the biggest donors in the Republican Party" and Rove's colleagues from his American Crossroads super PAC. According to the Times, the group was created with the explicit purpose of pushing back against efforts by Tea Party conservatives to force the party to the right through the support of far-right candidates:
The biggest donors in the Republican Party are financing a new group to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party's efforts to win control of the Senate.
The group, the Conservative Victory Project, is intended to counter other organizations that have helped defeat establishment Republican candidates over the last two election cycles. It is the most robust attempt yet by Republicans to impose a new sense of discipline on the party, particularly in primary races.
The Times went on to report that the creation of the group demonstrates "the establishment is taking steps to fight back against Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations that have wielded significant influence in backing candidates who ultimately lost seats to Democrats in the general election."
But Tea Party-affiliated conservative media figures aren't going quietly, and some of the fire at Rove is coming from inside the Fox News tent. Erickson, who has regularly supported right-wing primary candidates over less ideologically rigid Republican ones, writes today on his RedState blog that GOP candidates supported by Conservative Victory Project should be targeted for defeat. He also mocks the effectiveness of American Crossroads, writing, "Thank God they are behind this. In 2012, they spent hundreds of millions of rich donors' money and had jack to show for it."
Fox News host Sean Hannity applauded Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for his attack on Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel, claiming that Cruz' questioning during the Hagel's hearing demonstrated that he had made anti-American and anti-Semitic comments. But Cruz' claim that Hagel had accused Israel of a "sickening slaughter" was based on distorted quotes from heavily cropped sound clips.
On the January 31 edition of his Fox News program, Hannity aired a portion of Hagel's confirmation hearing in which Cruz referenced an Israeli attack on Hezbollah and claimed that Hagel described Israel's actions as a "sickening slaughter." Cruz went on to ask, "Do you think it's right that Israel was committing, quote, a 'sicking slaughter,' as you said on the floor of the Senate?":
Despite Hannity's approval of Cruz' line of questioning, Hagel was not accusing Israel of engaging in a "sickening slaughter" of Lebanon, he was decrying the escalation of violence by all parties in the region. As Slate's Dave Weigel points out, Hagel "described the conflict that way--a sickening slaughter was occuring--blaming both sides, and quickly following up by criticizing Iran and invoking the 'special relationship.' Cruz's truncation of the quote completely changed the meaning." The full quote shows that Cruz was distorting Hagel's words:
Questioner: How do we realistically believe that a continuation of the systematic destruction of an American friend, the country and people of Lebanon, is going to enhance America's image and give us the trust and credibility to lead a lasting and sustained peace effort in the Middle East?
HAGEL: The sickening slaughter on both sides must end, and it must end now. President Bush must call for an immediate cease-fire. This madness must stop. The Middle East today is more combustible and complex than it has ever been. Uncertain popular support for regime legitimacy continues to weaken governments in the Middle East. Economic stagnation, persistent unemployment, deepening despair, and wider unrest enhance the ability of terrorists to recruit and succeed.
From the January 14 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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President Obama is busily nominating replacements for the various Cabinet officers and Cabinet-level officials who aren't sticking around for his second term. The emerging consensus in the media is that in doing so, the president is "picking fights" with the Senate GOP minority that will have to vote for or against the nominees. Former Republican senator Chuck Hagel's nomination for Defense Secretary has been cast as an especially provocative move by the White House. It's a curious way to frame the story -- if indeed Obama can be said to be "picking fights" with Cabinet nominees, that's only because Senate Republicans have made clear they'll fight anyone Obama picks. And casting Obama as the disruptive force masks the Republican obstructionism underlying the confirmation fights.
Here's The Hill from January 7:
Obama nominates Hagel for Pentagon, picking fight with Senate Republicans
President Obama on Monday nominated former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) to be the nation's next Defense secretary despite warnings of a tough confirmation fight from some Senate Republicans.
Here's the Washington Post, also from January 7:
President Obama picks a confirmation fight. Can he win it?
When President Obama formally nominates Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense later today, he can be certain of one thing: The former Nebraska Republican Senator will face a major fight to win confirmation.
And here's Politico from this morning:
Why President Obama is picking fights with Congress
Barack Obama is looking for a few good fights.
Obama, the same president who campaigned twice on breaking the cycle of conflict in Washington, sees the utility -- even the necessity -- of rattling Republican cages as he plunges into a succession of upcoming battles over the nomination of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, the debt ceiling, $1 trillion in automatic budget cuts, immigration reform and gun control.
Fox News correspondent John Roberts ignored Sen. Ted Cruz's inaccurate claim that gun violence prevention is "unconstitutional" while guest hosting Fox News Sunday. The following morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough highlighted Roberts' failure to correct Cruz's extreme talking point, one that even conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia rejected in District of Columbia v. Heller.
From the January 6 edition of Fox News Sunday (via Nexis):
ROBERTS: Gun control -- you probably heard the last segment. We're talking about 10 bills introduced in the House of Representatives regarding gun control. Joe Biden is leading a study group at the White House. You are a fierce defender of Second Amendment rights. You were in like 2010, given the NRA's Freedom Fund Award.
Is there any new gun control that you would accept?
CRUZ: The reason we are discussing this is it the tragedy in Newtown. And every parent, my wife and I, we've got two girls aged 4 and aged 2 -- every parent was horrified at what happened there. To see 20 children, six adults senselessly murdered, it takes your breath away.
But within minutes, we saw politician running out and trying to exploit this tragedy, try to push their political agenda of gun control.
I do not support their gun control agenda for two reasons. Number one, it's unconstitutional.
ROBERTS: But is there that you would accept?
CRUZ: I don't think the proposals being discussed now makes sense.
Cruz's repetition of the NRA talking point on Fox News Sunday that the "gun control agenda" is "unconstitutional" was especially notable because he is a well-credentialed attorney who clerked for former Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that "gun control" is not unconstitutional, most recently in the landmark ruling of Heller that clarified the individual right to possess firearms. In fact, Cruz's endorsement of the NRA position is not only legally incorrect, it contradicts Justice Scalia's majority opinion:
Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.
[N]othing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. [United States v.] Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those "in common use at the time." We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of "dangerous and unusual weapons.
Because Cruz, a new Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is expected to know very recent and high-profile Supreme Court precedent, Fox's Roberts should have given Cruz an opportunity to correct himself on the constitutionality of "gun control." As explained by The New York Times in reference to the reports of the gun violence prevention task force recommendations that Cruz was commenting on, "[a]lthough the N.R.A. is sure to cry "Second Amendment!," the truth is that there's not a single Second-Amendment restriction in Mr. Biden's law-enforcement approved list."
Instead, that task fell to Scarborough and fellow Morning Joe regulars, who questioned how Cruz and Fox News Sunday could botch Heller without any explanation or follow-up:
SCARBOROUGH: Let me ask you a question, Mark Halperin. You know Ted Cruz, right?
MARK HALPERIN: I do.
SCARBOROUGH: A smart, gifted guy?
HALPERIN: He's a very smart man.
SCARBOROUGH: Has he ever read the Constitution, do you know?
HALPERIN: I'm certain that he has.
SCARBOROUGH: Isn't he like a lawyer, or something like that?
HALPERIN: He is, he's an esteemed lawyer, he was Solicitor General of Texas...
SCARBOROUGH: He's a Harvard Law graduate. So you think he's probably read a Supreme Court case before?
HALPERIN: I'm certain he has.
SCARBOROUGH: You think maybe he's read Heller, the Supreme Court...
SCARBOROUGH: Seminal case on the Second Amendment, on the definition of what's constitutional and unconstitutional, you think he's read that?
SCARBOROUGH: It's hard to know, but you would think he probably would, right? Because if he had...
HALPERIN: He would know?
SCARBOROUGH: He would not say that background checks are unconstitutional. Or any of the things that have been brought up are unconstitutional. Because the Supreme Court clearly and unequivocally said that Americans have a right to keep and bear arms, and that means keeping handguns in their home. That means being able to protect their families in their home. But they gave wide latitude to the government to regulate guns in every way that people determine.
I disagree with a lot of [Sen.] Dianne Feinstein's suggestions and recommendations, but background checks, the banning of military-style assault weapons, the banning of high-capacity magazine clips, it's all constitutional under Heller. It's not even a close call.
From the December 15 edition of SiriusXM's Media Matters Radio:
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For the second day in a row, Fox News host Gretchen Carlson criticized the GOP for failing to effectively communicate its ideas, especially following its defeat in the 2012 presidential election. But while Carlson's comments were directed at the Republican National Committee, Fox itself has acted as the communications arm of the GOP for years, a practice that has opened the network to heavy criticism, especially following Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's recent loss.
On the December 6 edition of Fox & Friends, Carlson claimed that "Republicans actually have a legitimate message" on the issue of raising taxes and cutting entitlements, going so far as to ask if "we need a better mouthpiece for the Republicans to be able to communicate." On today's show, Carlson revisited her comments, saying that the RNC should do a better job of getting the message out because there "has been a lot of discussion about the communication of the Republican ideas and the effectiveness of that during the campaign."