Is another conservative news site turning into a tabloid?
Allegations of sexual misconduct by Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) emerged in November on the Daily Caller, but a defamation scandal that surfaced this week could permanently decimate the news site’s credibility.
Most politicos remember Tucker Carlson as the former co-host of CNN’s Crossfire, the now-defunct political news program once characterized as “partisan hackery” by comedian Jon Stewart. Two months after Stewart’s appearance on the show, CNN declined to renew Carlson’s contract. Following a brief stint at MSNBC, he was hired as a part-time pundit on Fox News whilst launching the Daily Caller.
Wherever he travels, Carlson is a disruptive presence, openly criticizing Democrats and Republicans alike, a testament to his strong libertarian conservative bias. Even so, Carlson has long sought to remove sex scandals from the mainstream news, criticizing the coverage of David Vitter’s misconduct on his MSNBC show in 2007. This portrait did a U-turn yesterday, however, when Carlson’s site was accused of paying prostitutes to lie about sexual misconduct at the hand of Senator Menendez. As new details surface, the Daily Caller may begin to self-destruct. In the meantime, Carlson will welcome the surge of attention.
Menendez was initially accused of sexual misconduct last November, when two Dominican women claimed Menendez had agreed to pay them $500 for sex, but instead left them with only $100 a piece. The escorts agreed to a video-interview that was later posted on Carlson’s website.
A drawn-out saga has ensued, though the Daily Caller has had trouble validating its claims. The New York Times and ABC News declined to publish the story, citing a lack of credible evidence. Meanwhile, an FBI investigation found no evidence to suggest Menendez had acted inappropriately.
On Monday, Dominican law enforcement officials announced that the Daily Caller paid three women to claim they had sex for money with Menendez. A Dominican lawyer further substantiated these accusations, claiming that he had been paid $5,000 to find women up to the task. Carlson denied the claims Friday morning, stating the Post's allegations were "wrong."
In recent days, the scandal has consumed the national spotlight, largely because of Menendez’s recent ascent as a Hispanic leader in the Democratic Party. If Menendez is indeed exonerated under the new circumstances, a libelous fallout may push Carlson’s website to the grave. Until then, the Daily Caller, America’s “fastest growing news source,” should capitalize on the hysteria. It may be their last chance.