If there were any actual journalists on the American right, they could conceivably challenge David Kirkpatrick's exhaustive report on Benghazi in last Sunday's New York Times. But journalism is far beyond the right's abilities, so Kirkpatrick's reporting, which utterly destroys the right's Benghazi narrative, stands as definitive. The right is left to try to smear Kirkpatrick in an infantile way -- for instance, by dredging up a story from a student newspaper during Kirkpatrick's undergraduate days, as the Daily Caller's Charles C. Johnson does here:
The author of the widely disputed New York Times article on Benghazi repeatedly posed naked as a Princeton student.... Kirkpatrick ... even posed for Playgirl."Kinky" Kirkpatrick had a "rather unusual habit of disrobing for photographers in public places," reported The Daily Princetonian in January 22, 1990.Um, you know why the Daily Caller was unable to find that Playgirl with a nude photo of David Kirkpatrick? Because the story is a fake. If you go to the link and scroll through the newspaper in which the story appears, the so-called Princeton Daily News of January 22, 1990, you'll see that it's a Weekly World News-style newspaper (apparently a humor insert to The Daily Princetonian). Here's the cover of that issue of the Daily News:
"I've never been afraid to drop trou when it seemed like the right thing to do," Kirkpatrick said of a Playgirl photo shoot he had completed. "I just feel more comfortable in the buff."
The Daily Caller was unable to find a copy of the February 1990 issue of Playgirl to confirm that Kirkpatrick appears in the buff but did obtain a photo of Kirkpatrick streaking....
How do I know that the Kirkpatrick story in the Daily News is a fake? Let's just say the stories about Elvis and aliens elsewhere in the News tipped me off.
Is there an element of truth in the story? Yeah, sure. It appears that Kirkpatrick had a couple of moments of public nudity during his Princeton days -- the other link in the Caller story, which seems legit, notes that he posed nude on a bridge for a fellow student's art project, and he also streaked -- but in that he was part of a Princeton tradition that goes back decades.
The Playgirl reference in the Daily News story is -- to use the technical term -- a "joke." You know how jokes work? Here, let me explain. There actually was a Princeton student at the time named Oleg Urminsky who burned a flag. So that same issue of the Daily News did a story in which Urminsky set fire to his room. Har-har-har! Get it? (Urminsky, by the way, is now a professor of marketing at the University of Chicago business school. So much for youthful behavior being a predictor of one's adult life.)
Also, aren't right-wingers rooting for a guy who really was a nude model to win a New Hampshire Senate seat this year?
Kirkpatrick did a great job of reporting the Benghazi story. As for the wingers, this is all they've got.
UPDATE, MONDAY: Dave Weigel and Media Matters have called Johnson and the Caller on this, and now the Caller story has been edited to reflect the fact that Johnson got fooled by an obvious spoof.