The Daily Caller's lurid, fraudulent story of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) patronizing Dominican prostitutes has taken yet another hit as the lawyer representing the prostitutes, Melanio Figueroa, has reportedly let loose with a variety of outlandish story-changing allegations, among them that he was paid and pressured by various media outlets (the Daily Caller among them) to fabricate the whole affair. Figueroa's credibility is now non-existent, which only serves to reinforce how wildly irresponsible the Daily Caller was to run with the story in the first place.
The Washington Post reported on March 22 that a "top Dominican law enforcement official" said that Figueroa told investigators that in autumn 2012 he had been approached by a man claiming to be from the Daily Caller and offered $5,000 to "find prostitutes who would lie and say they had sex for money with Sen. Robert Menendez." The Daily Caller adamantly denied the allegations, which as of yet lack evidence and appear far-fetched, and the Post acknowledged that the "account provided that Dominican authorities said they received from Figueroa could not be independently confirmed by The Washington Post." The Post also noted that Figueroa's new story is a reversal from his previous denials of having made the whole thing up.
The Daily Caller, meanwhile, has published a story pushing back against Figueroa, reporting that he "blamed four news outlets -- CNN, The Daily Caller, Telemundo and Univision -- for allegedly encouraging him to fabricate false accusations about Menendez." The Caller also reported that "CNN and Univision both issued statements forcefully denying Figueroa's accusations," and pointed out that the attorney has repeatedly contradicted himself in recent days as the Menendez story has collapsed.
Again, Figueroa's credibility is extremely lacking, but the Daily Caller's attempts to demonstrate as much are telling, given that Figueroa featured prominently in then-Daily Caller reporter Matthew Boyle's original story reporting the bogus allegations against Menendez. Figueroa was the only Dominican source identified by name:
Two women from the Dominican Republic told The Daily Caller that Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez paid them for sex earlier this year.
In interviews, the two women said they met Menendez around Easter at Casa de Campo, an expensive 7,000-acre resort in the Dominican Republic. They claimed Menendez agreed to pay them $500 for sex acts, but in the end they each received only $100.
The women spoke through a translator in the company of their attorney, Melanio Figueroa. Both asked that their identities remain obscured for fear of reprisals in the Dominican Republic.
A number of other news outlets were approached with the fake Menendez story -- ABC News, the Star Ledger (Newark, New Jersey), The New York Post -- and they all turned it down because they didn't believe it passed muster. Their skepticism was wise -- one of the women who made allegations against Menendez has since recanted, and the Dominican police say they have determined that all three were paid to offer the tale.
The Daily Caller, however, ran with it. And now they're working to discredit their original source, having come lately to the realization that he probably can't be trusted.