Politico Backs Off Claim That Ben Quayle Lied About The Dirty

Remember when Politico claimed Congressional candidate Ben Quayle lied about his connection with the raunchy Web site The Dirty? And the news that he lied spread like wildfire around the Internet, ultimately making its way to the front page of the New York Times? The (ahem) funny thing about that is if you ask Politico today, Quayle never lied.

In an article posted on the Politico Web site last week, the news outlet clarifies the allegations that Quayle lied.

From Politico:

"The resulting media frenzy put Quayle's ties to Dirty Scottsdale on every cable news network, in POLITICO, Time magazine and eventually on the front page of The New York Times. Quayle continues to deny a role in founding the site, and Richie has backed off the charge, though Quayle has always admitted to writing some posts under a pseudonym and to putting Richie in touch with an intellectual property lawyer."

"Quayle has always admitted to writing some posts under a pseudonym?" That information would have been somewhat helpful before Politico ran with the headline "Ben Quayle Changes Story on Web site," which is what fueled the allegations that he lied, and, as we find out now, never happened.

The Politico reporter who initially asked Quayle about The Dirty refused to speak on the record about the clarification but Quayle's campaign is happy to.

Here's what apparently went down: the Politico reporter called Quayle at his house around 6 a.m. It's an unlisted number but because Quayle's wife's father was in the hospital that morning, Quayle answered the phone.

The reporter asked Quayle if he was involved with founding The Dirty. He said no. The followup question asked if he was involved at all. Still thinking the reporter was referring to the founding of the Web site, Quayle answered no again. At no point did the reporter ask the candidate if he had written for the Web site.

Politico ran with the headline "Quayle Denies Link to Dirty Scottsdale Web site." The problem with that being Quayle only denied founding the site. Again, the reporter never asked if he had written for the Web site.

A few hours after the initial conversation with the reporter -- and after the false allegations that he denied any link to the site had spread --  Quayle announced he had contributed some satirical posts for the site.

This prompted a different Politico reporter, who was not involved in the initial conversation, to post the story about Quayle denying being linked to the Web site.

News that he lied was more scandalous for some than the news that he had contributed posts to the site, which, if you've read, aren't all that bad. 

As Quayle's communications director, Jay Heiler, tells New Times about the allegations that he lied, "you can't unring a bell.

"Ben's explanation of the essential  facts has been clear and straightforward all along. It's the accusation that keeps shifting."

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