Here's some good reporting: Dave Weigel digs through a claim that Chuck Hagel is "linked" to a group called "Friends of Hamas," and guess what? It's a group that apparently does not exist. Which hasn't stopped the GOP-aligned media from making a big deal of it, and from some GOP politicians -- including Senator Rand Paul -- from buying into the idea that Hagel should be blocked because of it.
Just to be clear: outside of the nonsense of phony, non-existent groups, the whole idea that a nominee should be held accountable for second and third degree "links" of this sort is absolutely reprehensible to begin with. It would be of legitimate concern to the Senate if Hagel was personally accepting money from scary-sounding (or actually scary) groups, at least in some circumstances. But to say that he should be help responsible for everyone who funds a group that in turn pays Hagel to give a talk? That's a witch hunt. And once you go down that road, there's no real limit to it; perhaps someone who donated to an organization who paid Hagel for something once had lunch with someone who sat on a board of an organization which had a donor who also donated to Hamas! Horrors!
At which point you might as well just invent a group and accuse Hagel of secretly taking money from them....oh, right, that's what actually happened.
Oh, and remember: we know exactly how information travels within the conservative feedback loop. There is precisely zero chance that "Friends of Hamas" will disappear just because it turns out to be phony; we'll be hearing occasionally about this one for years.
Regardless: nice catch!
Update: I came back in to fix the link, but as long as I'm here, I want to expand a bit on that last "feedback loop" paragraph. Assuming that Weigel is correct, here's what's going to happen. The person who concocted this thing will almost certainly will not be set back on his career within the GOP-aligned media in any way. Most of the folks who cited this thing -- Hewitt, Styles, Dobbs, McCarthy, and more -- will not issue corrections; some, in fact, will continue using it. No one within the GOP-aligned press will be any more skeptical of the next such story to emerge from the same place, or more hesitant to pick up stories from there. Nor will those who bought and spread the story be held accountable by anyone within the conservative movement, or suffer anything at all to their reputations within it.
It is absolutely not true that everyone within the conservative press are frauds, hacks, and charlatans. But it is true that all too often the incentives there do not encourage good work