Hagel's "Friends Of Hamas" Conspiracy Makes A Fool Of Breitbart.com

Owen Poindexter
The "Friends of Hamas" conspiracy theory around Chuck Hagel says all too much about how the right wing gets its media.

Did you hear the one about the news reporter who tried to make a joke and accidentally started a right-wing conspiracy theory on Chuck Hagel? Lately rumors have been flying all around the conservative blogosphere that Obama's nominee for Defense Secretary, former Senator Chuck Hagel has secret ties to a group called "Friends of Hamas." If you haven't heard about this, apparently you haven't been keeping up with Breitbart.com:

SCANDAL! A reporter from Breitbart.com called the White House to ask about the Hagel "Friends of Hamas" rumor and got hung up on!

So, where does this whole "Friends of Hamas" thing come from? A joke made by Daily News reporter Dan Friedman. No, really:

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 all it takes is one person to believe it and then for everyone else to retweet them. That desire for there to be some kind of real scandal with Hagel and an email sent by Friedman is all it took:

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.

The next day, the story above appeared on Breitbart.com, and it was linked to by major Republican hubs Redstate.com and National Review's The Corner, and Mike Huckabee mentioned it.
No one asked this question: does "Friends of Hamas" exist? And why the weirdly obvious name? Why would Chuck Hagel risk his political career to be associated with them?
The American right loves to hate on the mainstream media, but by and large, the mainstream media fact checks and makes real attempts to stay credible. Credibility is not a requirement for Breitbart.com and its brethren. They need scandal, liberal conspiracies, confirmation that we are right and they are wrong.
What they don't need is facts.