The Naked Truth: Daily Caller Botches Benghazi Smear

The Daily Caller attempted to attack a New York Times reporter for his work covering the attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, but ended up citing a fake news report.

Conservatives have dishonestly attacked Times Cairo bureau chief David Kirkpatrick's recent investigation into Benghazi, which debunked several right-wing myths about the attack. Amid that effort, Charles C. Johnson reported for the Caller that he had uncovered embarrassing information about the writer. Johnson reported that while a student at Princeton -- 25 years ago -- Kirkpatrick posed nude for Playgirl magazine.

That isn't true.

As Slate's Dave Weigel reports, the Caller cited a spoof issue of Princeton's student newspaper that satirically claimed that Kirkpatrick had posed nude for the magazine. The same issue also claimed that Elvis Presley had been sighted on campus and that a professor had the powers of a “mind-control master.”

There was no “Daily Princetonian” article alleging a Kirkpatrick sideline in porn. The story appeared in a spoof issue, The Princeton Daily News. Two former student reporters for the paper confirmed that the paper would occasionally run a parody section, and that the Kirkpatrick “Playgirl” story was a riff on the well-known nudity arrest of a few months earlier.

After the false story was brought to the Caller's attention, they retracted their report. But instead of acknowledging that they had promoted a hoax, the article's correction claims only that the Princeton article “appears to have been fabricated” and could not be independently confirmed.