‘Did Hagel get $25K speaking fee from Friends of Hamas?’ — Daily News seeded suspicion

Israel/Palestine
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Dan Friedman, a reporter for the Daily News, acts the innocent in this piece explaining the origins of the rumor that Chuck Hagel received funds from a group called “Friends of Hamas.” The Daily News asserts that Friedman “inadvertently” fostered that suspicion. But as you read his words– not an ombudsman’s words, or an editor’s words, someone who ought to be looking into this matter — reflect that: the Daily News is a big supporter of Israel, and, How innocent is it to send an email to a source on Capitol Hill asking, “Did he get $25K speaking fee from Friends of Hamas?” It’s not innocent; it’s irresponsible. I would ask Friedman: Show me the rest of your emails on this question. What are you leaving out? Why should anyone trust your account? 

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. No one could take seriously the idea that organizations with those names existed — let alone that a former senator would speak to them. 

Or so I thought.

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.

I couldn’t have imagined what would happen next. On Feb. 7, the conservative web site Breitbart.com screamed this headline:

“SECRET HAGEL DONOR?: WHITE HOUSE SPOX DUCKS QUESTION ON ‘FRIENDS OF HAMAS’” 

The story read: “On Thursday, Senate sources told Breitbart News exclusively that they have been informed one of the reasons that President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, has not turned over requested documents on his sources of foreign funding is that one of the names listed is a group purportedly called ‘Friends of Hamas.’”

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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  1. Woody Tanaka
    February 20, 2013, 10:49 am

    So I’m supposed to believe that a reporter for the Daily News did this “accidentally”??? Please.

  2. atime forpeace
    February 20, 2013, 11:11 am

    Once again comedy as news, it seems the most effective way to tell the igno-cognizanti of this age the truth.
    He was just joshing around, can’t we all see that it’s a joke, how more absurd can something be?

    Would you fellate a donkey on national tv for Israel Senator?

    Yes the United State Israel worship is absurd.

    Even if it is SNL that has to tell you.

  3. piotr
    February 20, 2013, 11:14 am

    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.

    I actually believe that account. Only a total moron would not get it. So when we chide Dan Friedman for “irresponsibility”, the question is how much allowance should be given to the fact that total morons are present in the Senate chamber? I would say that it merits an investigation how a total moron like Ted Cruz could graduate from a reputable college like Princeton. Nothing should bar morons from elective offices, but some college degrees entail presumption of at least modest intelligence.

    • Philip Weiss
      February 20, 2013, 11:26 am

      What about Friedman’s followup email, Piotr? Do you believe that only a moron would fall for that?

      • piotr
        February 20, 2013, 11:53 am

        That requires a careful definition of a moron. It is part of a schtick at Daily News to ask “tough questions”, as I could see checking their editorials on the BDS lecture at Brooklyn College. They are not a serious news source but they can suffer a lot from a defamation suit, so they are careful. Innuendoes are their trade. “What does BC administrators hide when they do not release the list of lectures sponsored in the last 10 years?”

        A political operative should know that. And by making a clearly ridiculous accusation and a demand, Cruz send the ball to their own goal. Was it very stupid? Innuendoes are also the trade of political operatives. There is also some game of “calculated stupidity”. Either Cruz lost any intelligence he possessed as an undergrad, or he cynically deploys baseless innuendoes. Actually, WE KNOW it is the latter. This one simple had lower quality than usual. In his niche, getting shellacked by “liberal media” is a plus and it can also gain contributions from big donors.

    • George Smith
      February 20, 2013, 1:08 pm

      I’m with piotr on this one. Friedman’s jokey internet style is familiar to anyone who reads comments on this site. And this applies equally to the second e-mail: Friedman doesn’t get a response to his first off-the-wall joke, so he prods with an even more over-the-top joke. Who among us hasn’t done this? Mondoweiss must be totally infested with irresponsible rumor-mongers! Just as Capitol Hill is apparently (manifestly?) infested with knuckle-draggers. And none of this depends on Friedman’s views on Palestine.

  4. Ellen
    February 20, 2013, 12:01 pm

    From the Breitbart’s Shapiro who is demanding Jewish supporters of Hagel to stop pretending to be Jewish

    link to twitter.com

    If you are a Democrat who claims pride in your Jewishness, and you support the Hagel nomination, why not just drop the charade?

    You know anyone who really gets all worked up on labels of “liberal” or “Conservative” or Democrat of Republican must be really dim in the head.

    Shapiro might sound slick when he talks, but his rhetoric is stupid demagoguery. And now he is asserting from his perch is a Jew or not based on party and Hagel support? Geesh!

  5. Nevada Ned
    February 20, 2013, 12:13 pm

    Someone should send an email to Dan Friedman, asking him

    “Are you still on the Israeli payroll? Yes or no”

    Then post somewhere on the internet

    DAILY NEWS REPORTER ON ISRAELI PAYROLL??

    and then act so innocent.

  6. Les
    February 20, 2013, 12:14 pm

    Give Breitbart the credit it deserves for picking up and then spreading the stupidity for the many true believers out there.

    link to rawstory.com

  7. Annie Robbins
    February 20, 2013, 1:00 pm

    i recall this little fiasco:
    link to mondoweiss.net

    iow, hagel told them access to the Atlantic Council funding is not his to turn over. but guess what the crazies are doing with that!!! link to israelnationalnews.com

    Hagel Receiving Donations From ‘Friends of Hamas’

    …..senate sources told Breitbart News exclusively on Thursday that they have been informed that one of the reasons Hagel has refused to release the documents on his sources of foreign funding is that one of the names listed is a group purportedly called “Friends of Hamas.”
    ….

    Breitbart, seeking further information on the story, encountered many difficulties: “Called for comment and reached via telephone, Associate Communications Director at the White House Eric Schultz identified himself, heard the question, was silent for several seconds, and then hung up the phone immediately without comment. Called back via the White House switchboard, Schultz’s phone rang through to his answering machine. Called on his cell phone, Schultz’s phone rang through to his answering machine.”

    what freaks! and then the next day lobby puppet graham goes on face the nation and says he’s holding up confirmations over benghazi!!!!!

    if they have nothing they make the story about getting no response to the story.

  8. DICKERSON3870
    February 20, 2013, 1:44 pm

    RE: 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? . . . “Did he get $25K speaking fee from Friends of Hamas?” I asked. . . On Feb. 7, the conservative web site Breitbart.com screamed this headline: “SECRET HAGEL DONOR?: WHITE HOUSE SPOX DUCKS QUESTION ON ‘FRIENDS OF HAMAS’” ~ Dan Friedman

    LOOSELY TRANSLATED: Dan Friedman called “a Republican aide on Capitol Hill” and asked whether “Hagel’s Senate critics” knew of “controversial groups that he [Hagel] had addressed”. Then Friedman emailed said “Republican aide on Capitol Hill” and asked: “Did he [Hagel] ‘get $25K speaking fee’ from ‘Friends of Hamas’?”
    Then said “Republican aide on Capitol Hill” called AIPAC to ask whether they knew of “controversial groups that he [Hagel] had addressed”, and whether “he [Hagel] received a ‘$25K speaking fee’ from ‘Friends of Hamas’?”
    Then AIPAC called their friends in the media/press to see if anyone would publish something about “Senate sources” having told them (the media/press) that they (the media/press) had “been informed” that “one of the reasons” that Hagel had not “turned over requested documents on his sources of foreign funding” was that “one of the names listed” on said documents was “a group purportedly called Friends of Hamas”.
    Apparently, Breitbart.com was the only friend of AIPAC’s in the media who was ‘ethically challenged’ (sleazy) enough to publish such rubbish.

    • DICKERSON3870
      February 20, 2013, 1:57 pm

      P.S. RE: Then said “Republican aide on Capitol Hill” called AIPAC to ask whether they knew of “controversial groups that he [Hagel] had addressed”, and whether “he [Hagel] received a ‘$25K speaking fee’ from ‘Friends of Hamas’?”
      Then AIPAC called their friends in the media/press to see if anyone would publish something about “Senate sources” having told them (the media/press) that . . .”
      – me (from above)

      SEE: “Why the U.S. Media Barely Covered Brutal Right-Wing Race Riots in Tel Aviv”, By Joshua Holland, AlterNet, 6/17/12

      [EXCERPTS] . . . Recently, Middle East analyst MJ Rosenberg appeared on the AlterNet Radio Hour to discuss the Tel Aviv riots, the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program and how the Israel lobby helps narrow the discourse around Israel in the United States. Below is a lightly edited transcript of the discussion (you can listen to the whole interview here.)
      [EXCERPT]
      . . . • JOSHUA HOLLAND: From your inside perspective on that organization [AIPAC], what did you see as far as their tendency to call out criticism that they think is illegitimate or beyond the pale?
      • MJ ROSENBERG: They [AIPAC] consider all criticism of Israel illegitimate. It’s all beyond the pale. I suppose their definition would be if by some miracle someone like Joseph Lieberman made a statement critical of Israel it would be legitimate. When I worked there in the ’80s, back before everyone had computers, they had a big war room where all they did was assemble every bit of data on members of Congress, on candidates, but also on writers, celebrities – anyone in the public eye.
      In those days they would just put them in these folders. They always had at hand all this negative information — what they considered negative information — to tar people as being anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic. That stuff would be given to reporters if something came up. They were either initiated on their own to give to reporters or some reporter called them because they had a treasure trove of information.
      They still operate that way. In those days they did it directly; now they have former staffers and people who are close to the organization in the blogging world and political world who do it for them. They do it so much. When you read that someone is anti-Israel they’re the ones putting it out there. They’ve got the data. . .

      ENTIRE (LIGHTLY EDITED) TRANSCRIPT – link to alternet.org

  9. iamuglow
    February 20, 2013, 2:31 pm

    I read that this morning. Pathetic.

    He tries to play off that he made up the phrase casually “I was talking hypothetically and hyperbolically” but he “followed up with an e-mail, as a reminder: “Did he get $25K speaking fee from Friends of Hamas?”

    and he does nothing to stop the rumors because
    “Somehow, I was not aware of the firestorm until Sunday, when I glanced at my phone and saw a Slate.com story…”

    then he diverts it by blaming the source who he wrote the email to asking Did Hagel “get $25K speaking fee from Friends of Hamas?”

    The person denied sharing my query with Breitbart but admitted the chance of having mentioned it to others. Since the source knew we spoke under a standard that my questions weren’t for sharing, that’s a problem.

    Its a Garabage paper. All week they’ve been publishing supposed letters to the editor thanking them for their reporting of the “anti-Israel” event at Brooklyn College and asking for more coverage like that(?) Thanks bejesus for internet news and mondoweiss.

  10. Kathleen
    February 20, 2013, 3:39 pm

    Freidman knew what he was doing. Agree Phil rest of emails please. Got the shit storm rolling…Cruz etc repeated it in the Senate meeting.

  11. Kathleen
    February 20, 2013, 3:44 pm

    Kathleen says:
    February 20, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Front and center at Huff Po
    Right-Wing Media Reported Chuck Hagel Was ‘Friends With Hamas’… Based On Reporter’s Joke
    link to huffingtonpost.com

    front and center earlier at Huff po

  12. Kathleen
    February 20, 2013, 3:45 pm

    This rumor mill would make a great flow chart. Where it started and where it went right into a Senate meeting about Hagel

    Maybe Chris Matthews team will create a rumor mill flow chart on this one. Maddow is a flow chart queen but don’t think she would touch this one. Would help Hagel too much and she carries water for the I lobby

  13. Citizen
    February 20, 2013, 3:56 pm

    I was a teen combat grunt, and I became a lawyer. I came from the grass roots of America, pulling myself up by my bootstraps. Hagel is wonderful to me. Just look at the personal history of his enemies. So disgusting.

  14. eGuard
    February 20, 2013, 4:48 pm

    Friedman pops this story when his creation was over all the Hagel pages for already two weeks? He did not notice it before?

    More likely he is volunteering to take the flak for an AIPAC plant. His story is contructed afterwards.

  15. gingershot
    February 21, 2013, 7:03 am

    The neocon smearmeisters are simply grasping at straws and making up any lie that the likes of Sarah Palin will swallow.

    I would bet nearly every reader of Mondoweiss knew ‘Friends of Hamas’ was a joke as as soon as they heard it – but still the ridiculous lie was part of the neocon drumbeat for a few news cycles. It served it’s purpose

    The Israeli Lobby is not adverse to use ANY smear, half-truth, lie or con to advance their cause – like all true sociopaths ‘anything goes’ and they think everyone else is just a sucker compared to their ‘genius/’ of being able to pull the lie off

    Like the neocons getting the Fox Demographic (and many more) to actually believe that Saddam/Iraq had something to do with 9-11. It’s all good as long as it serves their purpose or can serve as a bridge to something that isn’t completely manufactured.

    The best part of it is – Shapiro will get not disdain and discreditation but backslaps and congrats from his buddies to have fought the good fight. If they give out hasbara awards, Shapiro would sure get one for this.

    His ‘joke’/lie/etc that wasn’t repudiated until far after it was ‘too late’ – after it has already worked it’s magic – says it all. I’m sure Cruz doesn’t give a damn – it’s just one of his bites at the apple that didn’t have as long a shelf life as some of this others. The neocons and Israel are already congratulating themselves that they have ‘weakened’ and ‘ridiculed’ Hagel so badly that he has been neutered

    I think they are wrong – I think Hagel is going to destroy the careers of William Kristol, Dick Cheney, and the rest of the Lobby and is going to destroy Apartheid Israel’s last best chance to get away with another decade or generation of Apartheid while a war with Iran rages

  16. Citizen
    February 21, 2013, 8:58 am

    Stephen Walt ‏@StephenWalt
    Michael Cohen nails the real issues in the Hagel fight. It’s the lobby, stupid. link to bit.ly

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