Dan Friedman, a reporter in the New York Daily News' Washington bureau, has reason to believe he is the source of a rumor claiming that defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel had ties to a shadowy group known as "Friends of Hamas."
It started when he called a congressional Republican aide, Friedman wrote in a column published Tuesday:
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”?
Friedman thought the names of those groups were so ridiculous that they would never be thought of as actual organizations. But on Feb. 7, Breitbart News published this report: "Secret Hagel Donor?: White House Spox Ducks Question On 'Friends Of Hamas.'" From there, the story spread on the right.
One problem: as Dave Weigel at Slate wrote, "Friends of Hamas" almost certainly does not exist. Still, Ben Shapiro, Breitbart News editor-at-large, stood by his story," telling Friedman that his piece uses "very, very specific language."
"The story as reported is correct," Shapiro told Friedman. "Whether the information I was given by the source is correct I am not sure."
Update: Shapiro has responded to Friedman's column, claiming he is not the source of the Breitbart story.
(AP Photo/Adel Hana)