Editorial pages skewer Bob Menendez over prostitution scandal

David Martosko Executive Editor
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The editorial boards of three newspapers have so far weighed in with statements about the scandal surrounding Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, who allegedly slept with prostitutes — at least one of whom was underage — during a series of trips to the Dominican Republic. And the consensus for Menendez is not good.

Menendez “has lots of explaining to do,” The Asbury Park Press editorialized on Feb. 1. “Every passing day seems to bring new details about possible improprieties.”

The Press said Menendez should not take over as chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee until a full investigation has run its course.

“Sexual scandals, ethics violations and political favors for an old friend? It is becoming difficult to simply dismiss the whole thing, as some have tried to do, as a right-wing smear campaign,” the paper wrote. (RELATED: Dominican prostitute says Menendez “likes the youngest and newest girls”)

“Menendez is certainly innocent until proven guilty and entitled to all the protections the Constitution and fairness afford. But in the real world, the stink of unethical behavior and corruption are hard to shake. All the more reason for the investigations to be vigorous and timely. Menendez’s chairmanship should be put on hold until those investigations are completed.”

Editorials, which appear under a newspaper’s masthead, represent the opinion of the publication. They are different from individual writers’ op-eds, a category of opinion writing which derives its name from the essays’ traditional position on the “opposite” page from the editorials.

Also on Feb. 1, a New York Post editorial took note of how Menendez responded to another prostitution scandal, this one involving the Secret Service.

“As officials sort out the charges and denials,” the Post editorialized, “it’s illuminating to look back at how Menedez responded in October, after US Secret Service officers doing advance work for a presidential visit to Colombia were caught bringing prostitutes to their rooms.

“’If the facts are true, they should all be fired,’ he said back then, though under Colombian law it’s not illegal to hire hookers. ‘The reality is that the Secret Service . . . represent[s] the United States of America.’

“He got that right,” the Post concluded. “We don’t know yet whether Menendez is guilty. But if, in his words, ‘the facts turn out to be true,’ surely the Mendendez standard ought to be applied to Bob Menendez, too. (RELATED BLOG: Why is Menendez following a very young-looking Dominican girl on Twitter?)

New Jersey’s largest newspaper, the Star-Ledger, used its editorial page Friday to observe that Menendez hasn’t had the enthusiastic support of many government colleagues from the Garden State.

Take Frank Lautenberg, the other U.S. senator from New Jersey.

“Lautenberg’s comments, made just prior to a committee hearing in Washington, sounded more like someone twisting the knife than a friend offering support,” the Star-Ledger editorialized.

“‘If there are infractions as they are reported, it’s too bad,’ Lautenberg told reporters.

“’Too bad?’ Later, he called the accusations ‘devastating’ and ‘a tragedy.'”

“Not exactly the full-throated backing you want from friends,” the paper opined. “Instead of waving off the question, Lautenberg’s words sounded like the allegations were already fact – and he was already mourning Menendez’s reputation.”

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