Thursday, February 14, 2013

Catch of the Day


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


  1. I believe you have the wrong link there. Dave Weigel digs through the "Friends of Hamas" claim here:

    1. Thanks; fixed, and as long as I was in I added some stuff...

  2. The original claim came from Breitbart! It's a scandal that anyone repeated it at all.

  3. This does look like a witch hunt. Then again, Rand Paul hasn’t weighed-in on this supposed Hamas group… he just wants to see Hagel release his financial information going back 5 years. That doesn’t seem like a big deal for such a high level position.

    1. Gov. Romney didn't, and neither did Rep. Paul Ryan. Two years is enough for Republican candidates.

    2. Couves,

      Hagel did the regular financial disclosure (which, IMO, is far too much, but that's a different story). I don't know what Paul asked for, but some were asking for the second-order disclosure.

      See the linked story; Paul was asked about "Friends of Hamas" and juts said he had heard about it, so I suppose that's not really his fault.

    3. Jonathan,

      When Hewitt pushes Rand on the issue, he says that he’s concerned about the allegations but “I’ve just seen the press report, so I’m going to have to look at what the response is, what the group is, and that kind of thing.” Weigel doesn’t quote this part. In Rand’s actual statement, he indicates concerns about defense contractors. There’s no mention of Hamas, Iran, Islamists, etc:

      Maybe that statement wasn't out when Weigel wrote the story, but it's odd that he didn't just ask Rand (Weigel has good libertarian contacts) instead of misrepresenting his opinion by selectively quoting from an interview that was already a week old.

      But given the context, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rand is just watching his 6 in preparation for 2016. Not exactly a profile in courage, but I don’t think that asking for more transparency in this case is a bad thing either. (I assume that Rand is asking for five years of records, just like the other Republicans, since he hasn’t said any differently.)

      More interesting is his hold on Brennan.

    4. Watching his 6 is a rather generous way of putting it. Paleocons and libertarians should by now realize Rand Paul ain't Ron Paul when it comes to Israel and the Middle East.

    5. TB -- We’ve known that since he ran for the Senate. Many Ron Paul supporters are unhappy about Rand’s Hagel position and this isn't the first time there's been a total Randstorm. Nor is there unanimous support for his 2016 ambitions either -- many would rather support Judge Andrew Napolitoano… or any random dude wearing a Guy Fawkes mask.

  4. Weigel is a great reporter.

  5. This "linked to" is a very vague phrase. Our previous President GWB and his father were actually linked to AlQuaida through the Carlyle group. True! The Bush family and the Bin Laden family both had money invested with the group at the same time. Check out the Wiki entry on Carlyle. However this linkage does not imply anything sinister. It only would if the Obama family or Chuck Hagel had money there.

    Richard A

  6. Implanting lies in people's minds has been the MO of the republican party for many years, maybe as far back as the 1950s, but it has become worse since 1992 I think. The saddest and most frustrating thing about it is that there is absolutely no way to counter the propaganda. About the only thing that works is to have the truth become so obvious that there's no way to deny it. Rove's epiphany on election night, e.g. But even now, I'm sure there are people who believe that Obama stole the election using voter fraud.

  7. Thanks Democratic Senators for not getting rid of the filibuster. No CFPB. No SOD that isn't hawkish on Iran.

    I will never give money to Senate Democrats until they end the filibuster.

  8. Its notable that "Friends of Hamas" was born in the feverish brain of Ben Shapiro, who previously hit the scene with the complete evisceration of the mentally-feeble Piers Morgan on gun policy. The zeitgeist reveled in schadenfreude at the takedown of poor ol' Piers, though somewhat less attention was paid to Shapiro's meme, which spread like wild (gun)fire in the reliable right-wing MSM.

    Of course, Shapiro smeared the eminently smearable Morgan for "caring" more about the victims of mass gun violence than one-off handgun violence, who outnumber the victims of mass shootings. Shapiro assumed his high horse (located a few millimeters from the ground) and declared Morgan a moral reprobate.

    If you had been born yesterday, you might have thought Shapiro was pushing for greater attention paid to the terrible violence problem in the inner city. After all, if we are seriously concerned about Sandy Hook, and morality dictates we be more concerned about the inner city, why, we ought to be really REALLY concerned about the plight of the inner city poor!

    If you were born yesterday. In this world, you know full well that Shapiro and those who enrich him care not a whit how many of the inner city poor murder each other. The relativism, obviously, works the other way: because we don't care about the inner city poor, and morality dictates we should care even less about Sandy Hook, then we should spare not a thought for what happened to those kids executed in Connecticut.

    Rarely are vehement arguments as transparently sponsored as Bushmaster Firearms International using Shapiro as a proxy to ensure that the Adam Lanzas of the US are as armed to the teeth as Bushmaster profitability can facilitate.

    It's not as clear who's driving the train on Friends of Hamas, but its gotten to the point with folks like Shapiro that, for convenience sake, he should just go ahead and tattoo a bar code on his ass, just to make the selling of himself that much easier.


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