An interesting window opened this week into the character-assassination effort against former Sen. Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense.
One of the underlying lies in the game is that Hagel may have accepted money for a speech to “Friends of Hamas,” a terrorist-sounding group. Dan Friedman, a reporter for the New York Daily News, first asked the question as a bit of snarky humor during a conversation with a source on Capitol Hill, then raised it again in a snarky email to the same person.
Friedman wasn’t serious. There is no such thing as “Friends of Hamas.” But the next thing he knew, it was plastered all over Breitbart.com, a a RWer-spun “news” site. Here’s part of what they wrote:
Friedman laid this whole saga out in a column Tuesday.
Now Brietbart’s editor, Ben Shapiro, is defending his site’s story under the curious logic that it doesn’t matter if the underlying rumor is true or not. As long as it’s true that the lie was spread to Breitbart, the story is a solid one. And he’s also calling Friedman “a hack.”
“The story as reported is correct,” Shapiro insisted [on Raw Story]. “Whether the information I was given by the source is correct I am not sure.”
When you analyze what occurred, there are similarities to what happened with the “intelligence” the Bush administration cooked up on Saddam Hussein pursing uranium ore from Niger (ostensibly for nuclear weapons development) as justification for the 2003 Iraq invasion.
Somebody had fed this lie to various intelligence agencies prior to the war. The intelligence services didn’t believe it. Nonetheless, it was true that somebody had dished it. This ultimately turned up in President George W. Bush’s 2003 State of the Union speech as “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”
But the Brits hadn’t “learned” any such thing. “Learning” is not the same as “hearing.” The former requiring analysis and understanding. The latter requires only noise.
You see the process here? You take an absolute falsehood — it doesn’t matter how ridiculous it is — spread it as a rumor, then report the existence of the rumor. Then when you get criticized for that, you furiously cry “It’s true the rumor existed!” and deny any responsibility for the rumor’s underlying truth, while at the same time spreading the lie anew.
That gets the smear out there for people who want to use it as a justification to greater ends. Like a war that cost trillions of borrowed dollars and thousands of American soldiers’ lives and limbs.
Or the character assassination of a former Republican Senator and decorated war hero who’s been nominated to be secretary of defense by a Democratic president.
Note from Dan: This post has been updated to correct the office Chuck Hagel has been nominated for.