After getting suckered into reporting a fake story that Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense, had ties to a terrorist organization, Breitbart.com editor-at-large Ben Shapiro is refusing to admit his error, choosing instead to stick by the false piece.
The rumor of Hagel’s involvement with the supposed terrorist group was started by New York Daily News reporter Dan Friedman, who said he called a Republican aide on Capitol Hill to get the scoop on the former Nebraska GOP senator.
“Hagel was in hot water for alleged hostility to Israel,” Friedman wrote in the Daily News. “So, I asked my source, had Hagel given a speech to, say, the ‘Junior League of Hezbollah, in France’? And: What about ‘Friends of Hamas’?”
Friedman continued: “The names were so over-the-top, so linked to terrorism in the Middle East, that it was clear I was talking hypothetically and hyperbolically. No one could take seriously the idea that organizations with those names existed—let alone that a former senator would speak to them.”
The source never got back to him, and Friedman says he had moved on from the story. Until he noticed a headline on the conservative website Breitbart.com on Feb. 7 that screamed, “SECRET HAGEL DONOR?: WHITE HOUSE SPOX DUCKS QUESTION ON ‘FRIENDS OF HAMAS’ ”
Still, despite Friedman’s acknowledgment that he invented the groups, Shapiro is standing by the story. The Breitbart editor claims he was citing a different Senate source from the one Friedman spoke with when he reported that “one of the reasons that President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has not turned over requested documents on his sources of foreign funding is that one of the names listed is a group purportedly called ‘Friends of Hamas.’ ”
It appears rumors spread quickly on the Hill.
Moving on to other things that are phony that Shapiro should report on—because it’s so obviously meant to be a joke—how about the Friends of Hamas website that links back to the Gawker story about Shapiro being suckered by Friedman?
Max Read at Gawker:
But if Friends of Hamas is really a “myth,” why does it have a website at FriendsofHamas.com?
Now, admittedly, I made the website this morning. But I’m not saying that Friends of Hamas definitely exists. I’m just asking questions! Why does this website, which I made, exist, if Friends of Hamas doesn’t exist? Why haven’t Chuck Hagel and the White House commented on the issue of the website I made? What does Hagel have to hide? Is the reason he refuses to release his records because he has visited the Friends of Hamas official website, webmaster: me? Isn’t it possible that Friends of Hamas exists? And if I can imagine Friends of Hamas to exist, isn’t that the same thing as it actually existing, philosophically? When you really think about it?
This story, as reported, is correct. As Shapiro says, “after all, this is the most easily debunked story in the world: all Chuck Hagel has to do is release his records.”
—Posted by Tracy Bloom.