Anatomy of a Smear Gone Very, Very Wrong


This note from the Daily Caller is perhaps the most awesome “correction” of the year the month the week:

An earlier version of this article reported claims made in a Princeton student newspaper article that appears to have been fabricated. Kirkpatrick denies the reporting from the Daily Princetonian and The Daily Caller has not been able to confirm it independently.

Reading this, you might think that a Princeton reporter turned out to have made up some facts, and after extensive investigation the Caller has ferreted this out and is letting its readers know. These disputed facts still might be true, mind you, but they can’t confirm them and the Kirkpatrick guy denies them.

Except for a few things:

  • The source is a spoof issue of the Princeton Daily News from 1990, which contains stories about Elvis, aliens, and the student government embezzling all the student fees and flying off to Rio.
  • The Caller has “not been able to confirm” its main charge because it didn’t happen.
  • And the best part: The Kirkpatrick in question is New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick, who wrote a piece about Benghazi a few days ago that conservatives didn’t like. The Caller’s mistake was made in an attempt to smear Kirkpatrick by claiming that he posed nude for Playgirl 23 years ago.

This is the kind of thing that I’d normally ignore, but it’s just too breathtakingly half-witted to pass by. Does the Caller seriously think that even the part of the story that’s true—that Kirkpatrick streaked through campus as an undergrad—could possibly call his Benghazi reporting into question? This has to be the lamest smear ever, and you, my loyal readers, deserve to know about it. Dave Weigel has all the details if you want to bask in the entire glorious idiocy of the thing.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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