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Daily Caller, Washington Post Feud Over Senator Robert Menendez Allegations

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ROBERT MENENDEZ PROSTITUTION ALLEGATIONS
AP

The Daily Caller and The Washington Post are trading charges over allegations that Senator Robert Menendez patronized prostitutes in the Dominican Republic.

The Caller was the first to report the allegations back in November. The senator has denied them, saying that they were "smears" to hinder his reelection. The Caller posted video of two women claiming that Menendez contacted them for escort services. Now, two other outlets are reporting that one of the women was paid to make the claims against Menendez.

The Washington Post reported Monday that the escort, Nexis de los Santos Santana, signed an affidavit stating that a lawyer gave her a script and paid her to read the claims out loud.

ABC News additionally said that both it and the Caller spoke to the woman in November, and that she was brought to them by GOP operatives: "Last fall, Republican operatives, who insisted on anonymity, helped arrange the woman's appearance, along with two additional women, in back-to-back, on-line interviews with ABC News and a conservative news website, the Daily Caller." The network said that it did not initially report on the claims due to "doubts about the women's veracity and identity."

The Caller responded on Tuesday, alleging that the woman interviewed by The Washington Post was not the same person it spoke to. "The Washington Post falsely reported a story yesterday claiming our source had recanted her statement, without contacting The Daily Caller for comment before posting," the website said in a statement. "In reality, the prostitute in the Post’s story does not appear to be one of the women we interviewed in 2012."

The Post is standing by its reporting, as is the Caller. Tucker Carlson, editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller, also told The Washington Post's Erik Wemple, "The Post’s piece is wrong."

The two outlets also disagreed over whether Post reporter Carol Leonnig reached out to the Caller before publishing her piece. Loennig wrote in her article that Carlson "did not reply to phone calls and e-mails requesting comment." Meanwhile, the Caller said that Leonnig's first email to Tucker was sent on Monday night after the original story was posted. A spokesperson for the Post said that the newspaper stands by Loennig's reporting, and her attempts to contact Carlson by phone and by e-mail.

The Caller fired back Tuesday afternoon, seizing on an edit to the Post's report. The phrase "the women’s videotaped claims, with their faces obscured, were played on the conservative Web site The Daily Caller" had been changed to "the videotaped claims of two women, made with their faces obscured, were posted on the conservative Web site the Daily Caller." The website claimed that the Post "deleted its explicit claim" that the woman who recanted her allegation was the same person in the video.

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Woman changes story, denies being paid for sex with Sen. Robert Menendez