How to Accidentally Start a Rumor About a U.S. Senator

Friday, February 22, 2013

Transcript

This month, the conservative site Breitbart.com suggested that Senator Chuck Hagel, Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense, had secret financial ties to a group called “Friends of Hamas.” It did not look good: a U.S. politician had allegedly received money from a terrorist organization that's called for Israel’s destruction. Turns out though, it  wasn’t true. New York Daily News reporter Dan Friedman tells Brooke about his theory that he was the source of the rumor.

 

Tanlines - Rain Delay

Guests:

Dan Friedman

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [7]

Faustus from Charlotte, NC

I think the reason the left ran with this story with such glee and schadenfreude is not so sinister as it seems to some of you.
This man's nomination was held up for no good reason (as usual) and FILIBUSTERED by the GOP for purely spiteful political reasons.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz was bringing up the same kinds of deplorable "innocent questions" about Mr. Hagel that McCarthy did, in that they were very specific "I don't know that he didn't take money from North Korea" with no basis of evidence, linking the man with this behavior in the public sphere in a most cynical and reckless manner.

So, now that he's been appointed (as he should have been already), none of you should be surprised that those of us on the left are going to make a little hay while the sun shines.

In this case, the phrase, "It's funny because it's true," applies perfectly. No one likes it when the joke's on them, but you must admit this could have easily been avoided.

Feb. 27 2013 03:27 PM
Stacy Harris from Nashville, TN

Stacy Harris from Nashville, TN

I oppose President Obama's choice of Senator Charles Hagel as the next Secretary of Defense for philosophical reasons, but I believe that Chuck Hagel, rather than having received legitimate media scrutiny, has been the subject of biased and unethical media reporting.

I refer not only to what OTM unearthed, but also to the widespread, selective editing of Hagel's televised testimony during a senate armed services committee hearing.

That editing suggested Hagel was noncommittal, indecisive, inarticulate and incompetent; in short, hardly Cabinet level material. Anyone who read the complete hearing transcript, or saw Hegel's complete testimony on C-SPAN, as I did, knows otherwise. The reality is that Hegel, while cautious and perhaps slightly nervous at times (in light of the high stakes partisan poker game that these confirmation hearings have become), acquitted himself and is qualified to hold the position for which he has been nominated.

Those who prefer someone else as our next Defense Secretary are obligated to disagree with confirmation of President Obama's nominee on the merits of our position. And if that is not enough, it is our arguments that are weak and not subject to being bolstered by intentionally depicting Hegel as something he is not nor any similar attempt to mislead our congressional representatives or the electorate.

Stacy Harris
Publisher/Executive Editor/Media Critic
Stacy's Music Row Report
http://stacyharris.com

Feb. 25 2013 11:49 PM
Mark Richard from WOSU

Hmm, has Andrew Sullivan's 'rumor' that Sarah Palin was the real mother of her grandchild caused him to be ostracized by the MSM? No, on the contrary, he is still welcome on the usual information platforms, and his bit of nastiness is never brought up as a lesson, much-resisted on the political Left (see the arguments in favor of one-sided coverage by Chait and Fallows), that both sides do it. Let a false rumor have a 'right-wing' provenance, however, and public radio is on the case.

The analogue is the media blackout of Christopher Dorner's political views, which included praise for President Obama, hatred for Wayne LaPierre and the Republican Party, and kind words for transparently pro-Democratic journalists like Jeffrey Toobin and Soledad O'Brien of CNN, and many other CNN and MSNBC worthies. I'd like somewhat out there to stand up under their own name and assert that if the shooter had published a 'manifesto' detailing his admiration for Mitt Romney, his hatred of gun-controllers, and his fondness for conservative Fox News journalists, public radio would not have trumpeted it - as fitting the narrative, quite untrue, that it is only the 'Right' which fans hatred and violence.

Feb. 25 2013 01:02 PM
Stacy Harris from Nashville, TN

I oppose President Obama's choice of Senator Charles Hagel as the next Secretary of Defense for philosophical reasons, but I believe that Chuck Hagel, rather than having received legitimate media scrutiny, has been the subject of biased and unethical media reporting.

I refer not only to what OTM unearthed, but also to the widespread, selective editing of Hagel's televised testimony during a senate armed services committee hearing.

That editing suggested Hagel was noncommittal, indecisive, inarticulate and incompetent; in short, hardly Cabinet level material. Anyone who read the complete hearing transcript, or saw Hegel's complete testimony on C-SPAN, as I did, knows otherwise. The reality is that Hegel, while cautious and perhaps slightly nervous at times (in light of the high stakes partisan poker game that these confirmation hearings have become), acquitted himself and is qualified to hold the position for which he has been nominated.

Those who prefer someone else as our next Defense Secretary are obligated to disagree with confirmation of President Obama's nominee on the merits of our position. And if that is not enough, it is our arguments that are weak and not subject to being bolstered by intentionally depicting Hegel as something he is not nor any similar attempt to mislead our congressional representatives the electorate.

Stacy Harris
Publisher/Executive Editor/Media Critic
Stacy's Music Row Report
http://stacyharris.com

Feb. 24 2013 03:09 PM
jack

so a no name journalist who is "accidentally" misunderstood and get this type of press...where is/was the press when the senate majority blatantly lied that a usa citizen has not paid income taxes, all for political gain...where is the proportionality form the press??

http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/sep/21/harry-reid-not-backing-down-over-issue-romneys-tax/

Feb. 23 2013 08:43 PM
Jena

Shame on your coverage. Not one reporter who have interviewed Mr. Friedman asked if he has apologized to Senator Hagel. This story is important because it is reflection of the MSM making up things and then acting like "well that is silly they believed it". He is protecting his congressional aid but as for Senator Hagel, a decorated war hero "oh well things happen".

Mr. Friedman was not fired nor even sorry but Senator Hagel will always be remembered for this lie.

The very simple question that should have been asked is "Did you apologize to Senator Hagel?"

Feb. 23 2013 07:08 AM
Charles

Good God, the liberal media loves this story.

This is the second public radio story on this subject in less than 24 hours. Melissa Block did the story on All Things Considered:

http://www.npr.org/2013/02/21/172631896/friends-of-hamas-how-a-joke-went-wrong

The story is getting much, much, more more "traction" (the weasel word favored by Melissa Block) in the liberal media (particularly including NPR) than it ever did in conservative media. And the premise of this story rests entirely upon the extent to which the story gained "traction" (thanks, Melissa) in the conservative media. It's not much of a story, is it, if it was just a brief, fast-vanishing overreach by one blogger, right?

But now, clearly, a Google search of hagel + hamas + breitbart turns up a long litany of the usual liberal suspects. They are absolutely adoring the "look at this screwup in the right-wing blogosphere..." aspect of this story. And scarcely a single right-wing news source that ran the story with seriousness. James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal's "Best of the Web" online column noted the original Breitbart error, before the story ever got on to public radio.

As I pointed out on the NPR website comments page, this story supplied no serious information about the Hagel nomination. It was not good information about Hagel; it was not bad information about Hagel. It wasn't even indifferent information, insofar as it was a story -- a meta-journalism story -- used to attack Hagel's attackers and distract from the floundering reality of the Hagel nomination process. So it served no informative process about Hagel, but it was helpful to the Hagel nomination by taking one reportorial error and using it to create a new story about something else that is Hagel-like but not Hagel.

Of course, as a regular listener I'm well enough aware of OTM's political orientation to realize that unsurprisingly, flogging this story puts OTM in the company of such left-leaning regulars like FireDogLake, MediaMatters, the New Yorker, the Daily Beast, ABC's website, the Atlantic, etc.

The hard part is trying to find exactly where in the conservative media world the story ever gained "traction." OTM seems to have borrowed a very small handful of references from their aforementioned friends. I didn't see any major news organization -- not the Wall Street Journal, not the National Review Online, not the Weekly Standard, et cetera -- where any "traction" can be seen.

This is the phenomenon of story selection. I'd very much like to see a study of OTM's media stories, and compare its weekly lineup with MediaMatters and FireDogLake on the one hand, and the Media Research Center and National Review Online on the other hand. I suspect that however one wanted to categorize "bias" within the stories, there'd be a remarkable congruence with OTM and the avowedly liberal sites, and far less similarity of any kind with the avowedly conservative sites.

Feb. 22 2013 10:11 PM

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