So … Chuck Hagel has no ties to a group called “Friends of Hamas.” Ahem …
… Because no such group exists. But right wingers, and the McCarthyite Senators they’ve gone and elected, and their silly “news” cable channel, and their talk radio guys, and their blogs, just need, NEED, NEEEEED, to hate Barack Obama and everyone around him so desperately, they’ll believe damned near everything.
Dave Weigel? Your witness:
Last week, after seeing references to a group allegedly named “Friends of Hamas” hidden somewhere in Chuck Hagel’s financial records, I did roughly 20 minutes of reporting to prove that the group did not exist. I checked the State Department’s list of terror sponsors and the Treasury Department’s list of terror-connected charities, then called Treasury to see whether a “Friends of Hamas” had ever appeared on their radar. It hadn’t. I checked with a Senate source and with a source in a conservative foreign policy shop whose president had editorialized about “Friends of Hamas.” Both sources were befuddled by the “Friends” claim.
Following that, I checked with Ben Shapiro, the Breitbart.com editor and reporter who originated the “Friends of Hamas” meme in a short February 7 article titled “SECRET HAGEL DONOR?: WHITE HOUSE SPOX DUCKS QUESTION ON ‘FRIENDS OF HAMAS.’” In it, Shapiro reported that “Senate sources told Breitbart News exclusively” of Hagel’s “Friends of Hamas” problem.
“Have you found any more proof that this group exists?” I asked Shapiro.
“The original story is the entirety of the information I have,” he said.
Cut to today. Dan Friedman writes a funny op-ed for the New York Daily News, taking credit—accidentally—for the “Friends” theory.
And says Friedman:
Here’s what happened: When rumors swirled that Hagel received speaking fees from controversial organizations, I attempted to check them out.
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.
But of course, nothing is too over-the-top for the Breitbart’s ghosters to thoroughly believe, and run with. Hugh Hewitt bought it (he’s got a Harvard degree, by the way. Did I mention that? ) … and Hugh pulled good old Rand Paul into his tin foil boat. Lou Dobbs bought it (he’s got a Harvard degree too…) RedState bought it. And so did the entire panoply of the wingersphere.
And therein lies the problem with the right. They start at the end, rather than the beginning — so filled with the desire to believe the worst, that they’ll just as easily believe the stupidest.
They did it with election “projections” and “unskewed polls” that had them convinced that a) everybody, HATES Barack Obama and b) Mitt Romney would MOP THE FLOOR WITH HIM in last year’s presidential election. Oops. And now it’s happening with Hagel.
And this, my friends, is the “new media” the right is relying on to get them back in the game.
Good luck with that, fellas.