The twisted tale of Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Tucker Carlson, Dominican prostitutes, and ophthalmology got really weird yesterday when the Washington Postrevealed that the discredited Daily Caller stories implicating Menendez in an underage prostitution scandal may have been spoon-fed to Tucker Carlson’s baby by Cuban spies. If true, this isn’t so much an indictment of The Daily Caller as it is an indication that Cuba really sucks at spying.
In fact, The Daily Caller actually did kind of an amazing job of getting the story to hold water for as long as it did, and even get it onto the national news radar. The allegations first surfaced in a November, 2012 report by Matt Boyle (who has since moved on to Breitbart News) that was sourced so thinly that it violated several of Trojan’s patents, but by January of 2012, even MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was reporting on it, and the following January, somehow found its way into a White House daily briefing.
Then, last March, the whole thing fell apart when The Washington Postreported that the women were recanting, and claiming that they had been paid to lie about Menendez. The lawyer for the two women even alleged that The Daily Caller had paid him $5,000 to find women to lie about the Senator, which DC publisher Tucker Carlson denied. Slate’s Dave Weigel has an excellent timeline of The Daily Caller’s reporting on the Menendez story, but the bottom line is that it was a complete shitshow that revealed the utter bankruptcy of the site’s editorial standards, or as conservative media outlets call it, “Thursday.”
Now, it turns out that the whole thing may have been invented by Cuban spies attempting to bring Menendez down over his support for the U.S. embargo of Cuba:
According to a former U.S. official with firsthand knowledge of government intelligence, the CIA had obtained credible evidence, including Internet protocol addresses, linking Cuban agents to the prostitution claims and to efforts to plant the story in U.S. and Latin American media.
The alleged Cuba connection was laid out in an intelligence report provided last year to U.S. government officials and sent by secure cable to the FBI’s counterintelligence division, according to the former official and a second person with close ties to Menendez who had been briefed on the matter.
According to WaPo, though, Menendez is still under investigation over his relationship with a wealthy ophthalmologist named Salomon Melgen:
Menendez twice intervened with top federal health-care officials to dispute their agency’s finding that Melgen had overbilled Medicare by $8.9 million for eye treatments at his clinics. The senator also urged top officials at the State and Commerce departments to use their influence over the Dominican Republic to enforce a port security contract for a company in which Melgen was part owner.
The Daily Caller is just as culpable for publishing those stories, regardless of whether it was fed to them by Cuban spies, and they will pay the price for it, which will be nothing. What’s comforting about this is that after the entire Cuban intelligence apparatus devoted itself to fabricating this story, they could only get The Daily Caller to bite, and even by the already-low expectations of that site, they still weren’t able to put together a story that could hold water. The Daily Caller is obviously completely immune to embarrassment, but if you’re a Cuban spy today, hang your head.