Right-Wing Media Reported Chuck Hagel Was 'Friends With Hamas'... Based On Reporter's Joke
Last week, we made note of the way the hearings on Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of Defense -- both within and outside the Senate chambers -- had reached an apotheosis of weird, with the discussion now basically centered on how it would be really bad for Hagel if any of the odd rumors about stuff he'd allegedly said or money he'd allegedly received turned out to be true.
Like, what if Hagel said that "the State Department has become adjunct to the Israeli Foreign Minister’s office?" And what if we all pretended that "adjunct to" meant "under the control of?" And what's this I hear about Iran "endorsing" Hagel? Isn't that a bad thing? Shouldn't we assume that is sincere, and not just some functionary in Iran, trying to bait a bunch of simpleton lawmakers?
One of the more fun rumors of this variety was that Chuck Hagel had received some money from an organization called "Friends of Hamas," a rumor which, if true, required a number of vastly strange things to happen. For instance, a bunch of guys who were "friends" of "Hamas" would have to be stupid enough to name their Hamas-supporting organization, "Friends of Hamas." Those people would then have to be stupid enough to give Hagel some money, for some reason. And then Hagel would have to be stupid enough to accept that money. And then a whole industry of agencies dedicated to elucidating the connections between political figures and the special interests that bankroll them would have to be stupid enough to not notice.
It was, in short, such a vanishingly small possibility that an organization named "Friends Of Hamas" existed, and that it had given money to Hagel, that the whole thing should have been treated as if it were some kind of joke. And guess what everybody? "Friends of Hamas," was -- literally!-- a joke. And the guy who came up with the joke was the New York Daily News' Dan Friedman, who thought that his joke was pretty obvious when he called up a "Republican aide on Capitol Hill" to ask after whether there was any truth to some of the weird rumors floating around about money Hagel had received. As Friedman relates, Wednesday:
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.
Friedman sent a subsequent follow-up email repeated the language, with Friedman assuming that the hyperbole had been received. After all, you would have to be a very gullible person to believe that a Hamas-supporting organization would call themselves "Friends of Hamas."