Anti-Hagel ‘Friends of Hamas’ Rumor Totally Fabricated

John Glaser, February 20, 2013

In recent weeks, conservative media and politicians have been up in arms over a speech Hagel allegedly gave to the group “Friends of Hamas.” Hagel is paling around with terrorists! they cried.

But according to Dan Friedman, a reporter with the New York Daily News, the speech never happened and “Friends of Hamas” doesn’t even exist, and never has.

“I know,” Friedman writes, “because I was the unwitting source.”

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 then the fiction caught like wildfire and was picked up by conservative media. First it was Breitbart.com, and then others followed. Eventually Republican politicians trying to block Hagel’s nomination caught wind of the rumors.

Breitbart.com, for their part, is calling Friedman a liar. They deny he was the original source for their Hagel, Friends of Hamas story, and insist the group is real.

Dave Weigel at Slate reported almost a week ago that Friends of Hamas doesn’t exist. And the Breitbart reporter, Ben Shapiro, who first published the fake scandal and is stubbornly sticking by it never did his due diligence to check on that.

This looks like a lesson in the dangers of confirmation bias. Breitbart.com appeared so eager to get a scoop that they reported a baseless rumor without checking the facts like reporters are supposed to do. And because conservatives were so eager to crucify Hagel (for daring to dissent from the Republican line on foreign policy during the Bush years), they jumped on the rumor and it entered into temporary reality, before the faithful were so rudely awakened by the truth.




15 Responses to “Anti-Hagel ‘Friends of Hamas’ Rumor Totally Fabricated”

  1. But, in this perilous time, can we risk selecting a Pentagon chief who might have been influenced even by imaginary terrorist groups?

  2. Confirmation bias? No, this is called business as usual for the right wing media. And despite getting busted in a lie, nothing will change. No doubt they'll be claiming tomorrow that the White House planting the story to embarass Hagel's detractors, without a shred of evidence.

  3. [...] for America (blog)The true story behind Chuck Hagel and 'Friends of Hamas'The Week MagazineAnti-Hagel 'Friends of Hamas' Rumor Totally FabricatedAntiwar.com (blog)Mother Jones -Raw Story -TheWrapall 36 news [...]

  4. What an interesting topic. I'm really excited about the talent of the author. It's incredible interesting post.

  5. [...] Anti-Hagel ‘Friends of Hamas’ Rumor Totally Fabricated [...]

  6. The neoconservative establishment awakened, rudely or otherwise? They're quite wide awake and know full well what they're doing. The public they have successfully ensheepened won't be getting de-ovined any time in this lifetime. It's all working very well for all concerned.

  7. Hi Megaphone tool, is that your new talking points from the shit*y little state?
    I read this exact comment 3 times in a span of 1 hour today but from different handles or people. You are so transparent it boggles any mind with a cell of logic.

  8. Rocky,
    You are right – 99% (or so they claim) of the public are wrong, all of the time.

  9. Just a guess…but the Israeli Lobby Hagel-haters wouldn't have had anything to do with the "…hypothetically and hyperbolically…" insinuated "accident? And I seriously doubt that Mr. Friedman was "unwitting." But, let's be honest, the NY Daily News and Breitbart.com are stellar sources for getting your "fair and balanced" news…

  10. [...] in actionNewsworks.orgMedia Matters for America (blog) -The Week Magazine -Antiwar.com (blog)all 62 news [...]

  11. [...] SOURCE: ANTIWAR [...]

  12. 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.

  13. Confirmation bias? No, this is called business as usual for the right wing media. And despite getting busted in a lie, nothing will change. No doubt they'll be claiming tomorrow that the White

  14. The old saying, "what goes around, comes around," applies to ex-Sen. Hagel and his useless staff. They were involved in a smear campaign against my family and I, based on falsified information. Even when we showed Hagel how wrong he was, he continued to smear my family and I from 2004-2009. While in the senate, Hagel covered up all crimes committed by U.S. Strategic Command and Offutt AFB personnel. Hagel is a fear monger, hate-monger and a defense contractor puppet, and is not qualified to be secretary of defense. Obama should pull his name from consideration.

  15. John: Thanks for the question. I would say absolutely, bilateral talks would be more productive. Its the difference between two people trying to work out their problems and six people. It naturally becomes more complicated.