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Chuck Hagel, "Friends of Hamas," and a media mess

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Alma, Feb 21, 2013.

  1. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    So there was item out there for several weeks that Chuck Hagel didn't want to disclose his foreign donors because, according to Breitbart.com (Breitbart from hereon) one of them "purportedly" was a terrorist-sympathizer group called "Friends of Hamas."

    Except no such group exists. That's because a NYDN reporter used the line as a joke to a GOP source in an email.


    On Feb. 6, I called a Republican aide on Capitol Hill with a question: Did Hagel’s Senate critics know of controversial groups that he had addressed?

    Hagel was in hot water for alleged hostility to Israel. 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”?

    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 GOP aide may or may not have taken it seriously...but it somehow ended up in Breitbart as:

    "On Thursday, Senate sources told Breitbart News exclusively that they have been informed 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.’”

    Now I'll get to the part that ticks me off most: Given the opportunity to nail this down and call it what it is -- a remarkable piece of bullshit -- the NYDN reporter is a weird mixture of wonky/arrogant/non-committal about it.

    <i>On Monday, I reached my source. The person denied sharing my query with Breitbart but admitted the chance of having mentioned it to others. Since the source knew we spoke under a standard that my questions weren’t for sharing, that’s a problem.</i>

    They "admitted the chance?" You mean, without any fucking doubt, they told someone else, Dan? And that someone then told Breitbart?

    And then:

    <i>But there was another fail-safe. Since the “Friends of Hamas” speech was imaginary, it was not like another reporter could confirm it, right?

    Not quite. Reached Tuesday, Shapiro acknowledged “Friends of Hamas” might not exist. But he said his story used “very, very specific language” to avoid flatly claiming it did.

    “The story as reported is correct. Whether the information I was given by the source is correct I am not sure,” he said.</i>

    Here's what Breitbart did with that little section of text and a subsequent interview Friedman inexplicably did with Huffington Post:


    Now, mind you, Breitbart has about 30 different stories about Hagel -- including one where "friends of Hamas" is used instead of "Friends of Hamas" -- so that Web site, like a lot of Web sites on both sides of aisle, will claim any number of dodges to escape culpability. (In the above story, these louts also call Friedman the "source of the accusation" when there was, in fact, no accusation at all.)

    But the NYDN/Friedman manages to make a real muddle out of this. The "Friends of Hamas" story in Breitbart is total horseshit. (A source told me that someone maybe did something because of something that's allegedly on something). By handling this in a weird, shoe-shuffling manner -- and then complicating it later by telling Huff Post the story was technically accurate, which is like saying "well, someone <i>told</i> me Billy Bob shot his brother and stuffed him in a trunk" is accurate -- suggests that, in this case, the NYDN has no idea what kind of political animal it's dealing with. It's playing Miss Manners with a clan of folks using prison rules.

    There had to have been a better way to approach/write this column rather than the twee, mildly bemused manner in which it was written.


    1. When it's bullshit, call it bullshit, because leaving any ground open to tinker leads to tinkering.

    2. Stop fucking giving fucking interviews to competing political Web sites.

    3. Apologize to the readers and quit playing grab ass with sources. Mean what you say and write.
  2. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    I have a confession.

    I started the Hagel/Friends of Hamas rumor.

  3. Jon Kyl would fall for it.
  4. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Saddam's Tall Flag Brigade contributes heavily to Democrats, still!
  5. waterytart

    waterytart Active Member

    Somewhere, HST and Ed Muskie are sharing some ibogaine and laughing.
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