Rule of thumb: Get at least three fictional sources before publishing serious allegations involving imaginary groups
— Josh Greenman (@joshgreenman) February 20, 2013
A few weeks ago, Ben Shapiro of Breitbart.com “reported” that the eerie-sounding, non-existent group “Friends of Hamas” had possibly given money to Hagel. Dan Friedman thinks he unwittingly began this rumor:
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. …
I am, it seems, the creator of the Friends of Hamas myth. Doing my job, I erred in counting on confidentiality and the understanding that my example was farcical — and by assuming no one would print an unchecked rumor.