I poked fun recently of Ben Shapiro, one of the Breitbart.com editors, for his breathlessly idiotic story about “Senate sources” telling him that Chuck Hagel had received money from “Friends of Hamas,” a group that does not exist. Dan Friedman of the New York Daily News explains how this story came to be. It started as a joke he made.
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.
Or so I thought.
The aide promised to get back to me. I followed up with an e-mail, as a reminder: “Did he get $25K speaking fee from Friends of Hamas?” I asked.
The source never responded, and I moved on.
And then that source, or someone else with a clear motive, apparently leaked it to Shapiro as though it actually happened rather than being a snarky question from a reporter. Shapiro responded to this revelation about his story with all the grace one would expect from a a wingnut and engaged in Bryan Fischer-level projection, calling Friedman a “hack”:
Our Senate source denies that Friedman is the source of this information. “I have received this information from three separate sources, none of whom was Friedman,” the source said. And I informed Friedman of that fact via phone and email. He ignored all that information.
Because it isn’t information at all. Of course your source denied it. What else would they do? They are the source of a spectacularly idiotic story that is so ridiculous that you should laughed your ass off when they called you. You could, at bare minimum, have done some checking to find out whether this group even exists in the first place. But you didn’t. Because you’re the hack in this situation. And you’re so blinded by your hatred for Obama and so determined to bring down Hagel that you’ll believe and pass on anything that serves that end, no matter how blatantly absurd it is.