Journo: Oops, I Started the Hagel-Hamas Rumors

Dan Friedman explains how made-up group he joked about became news
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 20, 2013 11:28 AM CST
In this Jan. 31, 2013, file photo, Republican Chuck Hagel, President Obama's choice for defense secretary, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(Newser) – Ever wonder how unconfirmed rumors snowball into political news stories? At the New York Daily News, Dan Friedman offers an example—in which he was the unwitting source of the false story. In the midst of Chuck Hagel's confirmation process, Friedman called a GOP aide to find out more about whether Hagel had given speeches to questionable organizations. As examples, he made up names like "Friends of Hamas" and "Junior League of Hezbollah."

"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," Friedman writes. The aide said he'd let Friedman know. But the question itself went viral, with Breitbart News offering the headline "White House spox ducks question on 'Friends of Hamas.'" Now, "I am, it seems, the creator of the Friends of Hamas myth," Friedman notes. "I erred in counting on confidentiality and the understanding that my example was farcical—and by assuming no one would print an unchecked rumor." Click through for Friedman's full column.

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