Don’t you just hate it when people (especially anonymous people) spread false claims about yourself or your clients? Everybody does! This week’s journalistic hackery scandal isn’t really our stock in trade, but it is certainly an interesting one for anyone concerned with promoting stories and earning media mentions for clients.
Here’s the summary: in January President Obama nominated Chuck Hagel, a former Republican senator, for the Secretary of Defense position. Unfriendly media outlets soon began running stories about Hagel’s supposed ties to anti-Israel advocacy organizations, eventually dropping the ominous name “Friends of Hamas.”
Whatever Hagel’s politics may be, there is no such group–but that fact didn’t stop the story from spreading.
Today a reporter for the New York Daily News published a column identifying himself as the (unintentional) source of the smear. Dan Friedman called a source within the U.S. Senate two weeks ago to ask whether there might be any truth to rumors, floated by Hagel opponents, that accused him of making paid appearances before anti-Israel groups. Friedman jokingly suggested the names “Friends of Hamas” and “Junior League of Hezbollah.”
Things only went downhill from there.