At 11:42 a.m. on Feb. 14, a conservative online magazine called The Washington Free Beacon posted a dispatch about a speech Chuck Hagel gave in 2007 in which it said he called the State Department “an adjunct to the Israeli foreign minister’s office.”
The report was based on “contemporaneous” notes an attendee posted online. An hour later on the floor of the United States Senate, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina urgently cited that statement as another reason to delay Mr. Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary.
Mr. Hagel denied saying it, and no recording has surfaced. But after a successful filibuster against the nominee, a group called the Emergency Committee for Israel effectively declared partial victory and vowed to “redouble its efforts to bring to light Mr. Hagel’s complete record.”
All in all, it was a very bad day for Mr. Hagel, and a smashingly good one for the conservative political operative of the moment — Michael Goldfarb.
Often working with money from major Republican donors, most of whom have preferred anonymity, Mr. Goldfarb has been in the middle of nearly every major partisan dispute of Mr. Obama’s presidency — over Iran, Israel, terrorism policy and now Mr. Hagel and guns. For a time, Mr. Goldfarb worked as a communications strategist to the leading bêtes noires of liberals, the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.
In his work at The Free Beacon, for groups like the Emergency Committee for Israel and at Orion, he has combined a relatively new form of weaponized journalism, politicking and public policy into a potent mix.
“He’s at the intersection of a lot of different worlds,” said William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, who has been a boss, mentor and colleague to Mr. Goldfarb.
The rest of the New York Times article is here: Michael Goldfarb Gleeful Provocateur at Intersection of Many Worlds
Here’s an article from over a year ago that gives additional background on the Center for American Freedom, the parent group to the Washington Free Beacon.
But while conservative think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation remain important sources of conservative policy and strategy, they have struggled to mix it up in the new online media sphere. CAF’s founding marks a recognition of the success of the Democratic online infrastructure and its spectrum of successful partisan media operations, which have blended journalistic values of speed and accuracy with ideological and partisan goals to great impact.
“It’s very impressive what they’ve done,” Goldfarb said. “Obviously, I think they’re misguided and they have some horrible policy views and they’ve done some things I wouldn’t do, but the premise of it is extremely impressive.”
A test run for CAF, Goldfarb said, was the Emergency Committee for Israel, which he also advised, and which waged a relentless guerrilla media campaign against the efforts of J Street — a national membership organization with a sizable Washington staff — to create a liberal counterweight in American Middle East policy.
It’s the interlocking directorate of epistemic closure. It’s the Breitbrats of the mainstream conservative movement. It’s more of the kind of ‘journalism’ that we don’t need.