WashPost Runs 43 Paragraph Front-Page Article On Sen. Menendez; Buries Prostitution Scandal In Style Section

The February 7 Washington Post ran an in-depth front-page story examining the relationship between Sen. Robert Menendez and a Florida eye doctor under investigation for Medicare fraud.  Despite extensively detailing the controversial relationship between the New Jersey Democrat and the reliably Democratic campaign donor, the Post's Carol Leonnig and Jerry Markon omitted that the FBI is also investigating allegations that Menendez paid for underage prostitutes with girls in the Dominican Republican. Oddly enough, however, the paper's Style section ran another Menendez story, this one by staff writer Manuel Roig-Franzia, which did mention the hooker scandal. Even so, that article, headlined "Behind the gates of this exclusive resort, a scandal brews," was mostly focused on just how exclusive and luxurious Menedez's Dominican getaway was, reading in parts like a promotional travel brochure.

At issue in the front-page article are revelations that while Dr. Salomon Melgen had overbilled the federal government by $8.9 million for care at his clinic, since 2009 Senator Menendez has staunchly defended the doctor, using his congressional clout to lean on Medicare administrators seeking to penalize the doctor.  Dr. Melgen last year donated more than $700,000 to Menendez and other Democrats’ reelection campaigns, and Menendez has been the primary defender against the fraud accusations leveled against on Dr. Melgen. 

The front page article did reference that Menendez is “facing a Senate ethics inquiry about two free trips he took in 2010 on Melgen’s private plane to the doctor’s seaside mansion in the Dominican Republic” but ignored the allegations of prostitution while there. 

What's more, Roig-Franzia's Style section’s coverage of the prostitution scandal was buried in the 9th paragraph of the article, after going into great detail about the resort Menendez frequented.  After providing four paragraphs on page C4 outlining the prostitution scandal, the article then went into an 17 additional paragraphs on the layout and atmosphere of the resort community known as “Casa de Campo” which the Post described as an "ultra-exclusive 7,000-acre redoubt" where "discretion is everything" and where:

Just a few minutes away by golf cart, locals and villa renters saunter to the beach down a path lined by speakers disguised as rocks.  Soothing spa music trickles out.  Squadrons of attendants in white shorts and caps fuss over beach chairs, positioning them just right for the smattering of couples and families luxuriating in the sun. 

Roig-Franzia vehemently tried to refute the prostitution allegations against Menendez by mentioning, “the allegations-made by an anonymous whistleblower and first publicized on a conservative Web site-have not been verified independently.”  Yes, but the FBI apparently believes them credible enough to investigate. But nevermind that, Roig-Franzia seems intent on suggesting it's near impossible for a hooker to slip by Casa de Campo's crack security staff:

Security guards diligently turn away anyone who looks to them like a prostitute.  Never mind those occasional, uncomfortable instances when a resident has been mistakenly blocked from entering because she was provocatively dressed. 

One would think that the Post would deem details of this damaging prostitution scandal worthy of inclusion in its front-page article on Menendez, but instead it buries the scandal in the Style section, surrounded by extensive fluff coverage of the luxurious resort village meant to weaken the potentially career-ending scandal engulfing the Democrat from New Jersey. 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.