Remember that claim about Hagel and the 'Friends of Hamas'? Now, a reporter explains how he apparently started that whole thing, completely by accident:
Here’s what happened: When rumors swirled that Hagel received speaking fees from controversial organizations, I attempted to check them out.
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.
Imagine that! A reporter tried to check out a rumor, to see if there was actually anything to it!
Not so Ben Shapiro of the loony far-right website Breitbart.com. Truth? Who cares if it's actually true? Heck, who cares if it's completely insane, as long as they can attack Barack Obama with it (in a roundabout fashion, by attacking the conservative Republican who agreed to serve as Obama's Secretary of Defense).
And once it's posted on a right-wing website, no matter how crazy and unreliable that website might be, it spreads throughout the right-wing bubble they all inhabit. Soon, it's an important issue, since, after all, everyone is talking about it, right? (Everyone in the right-wing bubble, at least.)
But what's particularly funny is this:
Reached Tuesday, Shapiro acknowledged “Friends of Hamas” might not exist. But he said his story used “very, very specific language” to avoid flatly claiming it did.
Sure, that organization doesn't actually exist, but Shapiro was very careful to only imply that it did. Indeed, he had absolutely no reason to think that it did exist, but so what? His intent was to make noise while attacking Barack Obama, and that's exactly what he did.
The fact that it makes right-wing loons like him look completely ridiculous doesn't matter, since they all live in their reality-free bubble anyway. And in the bubble, you can bet that most people still believe - and will believe, no matter what the reality might be - that this is true.
And so the ignorant and the gullible will continue to be fired up by complete lies,... and they'll keep frequenting Fox 'News' and websites like Brietbart.com. And many in the great mass of ill-informed people outside the bubble will likely hear, and believe, the original claim, too, so that makes this a success for that reason, as well.
Studies show that denials don't change minds. Indeed, a denial often just makes the original claim seem even more believable. So don't expect to see any changes in right-wing behavior. This did exactly what they wanted. Informed, rational people might laugh at them, but that's not their target audience, anyway.