When Breitbart.com’s Ben Shapiro posted his now-infamous fake story about Chuck Hagel and “Friends of Hamas,” it’s noteworthy that the entire right wing media machine immediately jumped on the story and spread it far and wide. It’s difficult to find a right wing website that didn’t run the story; this is how they roll, with nearly instant unison parroting of stories that advance the agenda, whether obviously fake or not.
Today National Review editor Rich Lowry actually posted a correction — which is more than the majority of conservative sites will do: ‘Friends of Hamas’ - by Rich Lowry.
A week or so ago, Capitol Hill was swirling with rumors that Hagel might have been associated with a group called Friends of Hamas. These rumors were mentioned in this space (albeit conditionally and with grains of salt). It turns out that the group doesn’t exist and the rumor was based on a hypothetical question that then spread in a classic Washington game of telephone, as reported here.
This might seem like semi-responsible journalism, but watch: the next time one of these fake outrages floats by, they’ll jump aboard as if this never happened.
UPDATE at 2/20/13 12:45:06 pm
Since Lowry said in his post that the National Review “mentioned” the rumors “conditionally and with grains of salt,” let’s take a look at the words that actually appeared on their site. Call it “fact-checking,” if you will.
First, from Andrew McCarthy: Is Hagel Toast? - by Andrew C. McCarthy - the Corner - National Review Online
As John notes, Ben Shapiro has reported at the Breitbart site Big Peace that one of Hagel’s funding sources is a group purportedly called “Friends of Hamas.” That might make someone a good fit for president of Egypt, prime minister of Turkey, or any number of advisory posts on the White House staff. But given that being a “friend of Hamas” — at least the kind of friend who provides material support to that terrorist organization — is a crime in the United States, it may not be quite what the Senate is looking for in a secretary of defense.
How is that “conditional?” Is the word “purportedly” supposed to give them an out, even though the rest of the paragraph quite clearly treats it as a fact?
Second, from Andrew Stiles: Levin Defends Hagel, Calls GOP Disclosure Request ‘Unprecedented’ - by Andrew Stiles - the Corner - National Review Online.
Rumors abound on Capitol Hill that a full disclosure of Hagel’s professional ties would reveal financial relationships with a number of “unsavory” groups, including one purportedly called “Friends of Hamas.” The GOP aide said it was “noteworthy” that the White House has yet to deny the association. “Maybe it’s not true, but why not provide a list of groups he spoke to and remove all doubt?” the aide said.
There’s that “purportedly” again, followed by dark insinuations that the White House hasn’t denied the accusation.
Pretty obviously, the National Review’s writers pushed this story as factual, and they did much more than simply “mention” it — and Lowry’s attempt to picture it as “conditional” is just as ridiculous as the fake story itself.