Did a New York Daily News’ Reporter’s Tongue in Cheek Question Start Reported Hagel “Friends of Hamas”Rumor?

Did a New York Daily New reporter’s tongue in cheek question start a reported rumor that beset Secretary of Defense nominee former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel may have taken “Friends of Hamas” money? It sure sounds that way, although the website that was reporting this (alleged) revelation is still standing by its story.

Talking Points Memo has this (and look below since I’ll offer some more names that conservative websites can use in their news stories on Hagel that are equally as accurate):

Dan Friedman, a reporter in the New York Daily News’ Washington bureau, has reason to believe he is the source of a rumor claiming that defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel had ties to a shadowy group known as “Friends of Hamas.”

It started when he called a congressional Republican aide, Friedman wrote in a column published Tuesday:

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”?

Friedman thought the names of those groups were so ridiculous that they would never be thought of as actual organizations. But on Feb. 7, Breitbart News published this report: “Secret Hagel Donor?: White House Spox Ducks Question On ‘Friends Of Hamas.’” From there, the story spread on the right.

One problem: as Dave Weigel at Slate wrote, “Friends of Hamas” almost certainly does not exist. Still, Ben Shapiro, Breitbart News editor-at-large, stood by his story,” telling Friedman that his piece uses “very, very specific language.”

“The story as reported is correct,” Shapiro told Friedman. “Whether the information I was given by the source is correct I am not sure.”

In another post, TMP reports that the website sticks by its original reporting and, TPM reports that the reporter “concluded that the whole ordeal is a ploy by the mainstream media to protect President Obama and his nominee for defense secretary.”

I just got off the phone from Barack Obama who asked me to write a post on The Moderate Voice to protect him and his nominee for defense secretary.

In exchange for this post, he’s offering me a free “I KNOW SOMEONE WHO PLAYED GOLF WITH TIGER WOODS” t-shirt (my size — small) and a jar of Dijon mustard.

So here’s a paragraph conservative websites, Rush Limbuagh, Glenn Beck and Fox News can use in their reporting to generate more charges against Chuck Hagel.

I’ll put it in boldface:

One of my best and most reliable sources, wonders whether Hagel has given a speech to B’Nai Hamas, the National Hamas Association, Young Men’s Hamas Association, McHamas burger restaurants, Temple Beth Hamas Israel, the National Organization for Hamas, the United League of Hamas Citizens, Bahamas Hamas, California Hamas Teachers Association, or Hair Club for Hamas? A second reliable source asks the same question — and a third says Hagel doesn’t pass the smell test. A senior source asks this question as well.

UPDATE: There’s considerable blog comment on this, which can be followed HERE.

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