On Current TV’s The Young Turks Wednesday night, host Cenk Uygur had on as a guest Gawker.com writer Max Read, in which they discussed the right wing media frenzy around the false “Friends of Hamas” story that nearly derailed the confirmation of Obama’s nominee for Defense Secretary, Sen. Chuck Hagel.
What began as a casual joke by New York Daily News reporter Dan Friedman, quickly escalated into a feeding frenzy in the hands of Breitbart.com editor Ben Shapiro, who ran with the story and reported it as a real scoop.
Uygur made sure to point out that even major cable news outlets bought into the story, which was begun when Friedman asked an unnamed Senate staff member about the Hagel confirmation and was jokingly making up the names of possible controversial groups that the senator could have ties to, like “Junior League of Hezbollah in France,” or “Friends of Hamas.”
The host went on to say that these types of stories have been disseminated by right-leaning media before — the Shirley Sherrod tape, James O’Keefe’s ACORN tapes and other instances where conservatives have made waves with stories that later were exposed as falsehoods.
Read replied that what mostly concerns him is the fact that when these types of stories surface, not enough time is spent investigating their validity. In the wake of the story, the only reporter who actually took the time to investigate whether or not “Friends of Hamas” was a real organization was Slate’s David Weigel.
“You get the sense that this is something some guy told Ben Shapiro,” Read said, “and he just ran with it, because, ‘Why not?’ There’s no accountability.”
Uygur mentioned an article published Wednesday where the Breitbart.com writer claimed that his story was “accurate and clearly caveated.”
Read claimed that Shapiro was lying in his first Breitbart piece when he said that he had more than one source on the story. “Shapiro had one guy,” said Read, “one guy who talked to three people, all of whom, it seems, were just talking about this joke that this Daily News reporter had emailed them.”
Watch The Young Turks segment in the video below.