Washington Free Beacon writer Adam Kredo had some “BREAKING” news to report on Monday that he couldn’t wait to share: a political staffer on a major Democratic presidential campaign had, years ago, expressed his solidarity with a Middle Eastern terrorist group.
Well … not so much.
The dispatch in question was one of dozens contributing to Twitter’s joke du jour on Feb. 20, 2013, when a legion of right wing media watchers jokingly declared themselves “Friends of Hamas.” The running joke was born after a group reported by Breitbart News, “Friends of Hamas,” was revealed to be non-existent.
The specific tweeter whose joke has now been bizarrely spun as a serious pro-Hamas statement was Max Berger, a staffer on Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) presidential campaign.
BREAKING: Warren 2020 Staffer Under Fire for (Now Deleted) Anti-Israel Tweets — ‘I would totally be friends with Hamas.' Warren campaign will not comment… https://t.co/naVEn8LHx0 pic.twitter.com/T7ws0inouZ
— Adam Kredo (@Kredo0) July 8, 2019
Kredo didn’t seem to notice all of Hamas’ other friends that day.
Are there benefits to being friends of Hamas?
— Blake News (@blakehounshell) February 20, 2013
Friends of Hamas With Benefits http://t.co/RQFUS2V1lf
— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) February 20, 2013
Everyone but me seems to be a friend of Hamas. Kinda jealous. Hamas and I are no more than glancing acquaintances.
— Molly Ball (@mollyesque) February 20, 2013
10 people you didn't realize were friends of Hamas: http://t.co/UWQKNOUhuq
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) February 20, 2013
And who could forget Randy Newman's classic song from the "Toy Story" soundtrack: "You've Got a Friend of Hamas in Me"
— Alex Burns (@alexburnsNYT) February 20, 2013
Words with Friends of Hamas
— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) February 20, 2013
Anyone with access to Google could’ve figured out as early as Feb. 7, 2013 that “Friends of Hamas” didn’t exist.
Breitbart News reported that day on imagined financial ties between the group and then-Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel. But just a week later, Dave Wiegel reported in Slate that “Friends of Hamas” was “as fake as Manti Te’o’s girlfriend.” A week after that, New York Daily News reporter Dan Friedman took credit for inventing the name in a conversation with a Republican aide that then made its way through the rumor mill.
“I made it up,” Friedman told NPR’s Melissa Block a day later, Feb. 21. He remembered another phony name he’d tossed out to the aide: “The Junior League of Hezbollah.”
Kredo apparently missed all that context when he wrote up his piece Monday, which consists mainly of a well-rehearsed comb through Berger’s past as an activist.
So too, perhaps, did Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who told the Free Beacon Monday in response to Berger’s tweet, “Anyone who wants to be friendly with Hamas has no business being in a presidential campaign.”
The Breitbart News post’s author, Ben Shapiro, stood up for his work back in 2013, noting that his story only really claimed to reveal that “sources […] said they had been told” about it. Friedman acknowledged that Shapiro had “caveated” his way around the truth. Breitbart’s next headline blared, of course, “Daily News Reporter Admits: Breitbart ‘Friends of Hamas’ Story ‘Accurate.'”
Shapiro has since acknowledged his error: “[T]he story should never have run,” he told TPM in an email Tuesday, linking to a blog post in which he claimed to have “reported it as a rumor.”
“It turned out that the underlying story was wrong,” Shapiro reflected. “We shouldn’t have reported the story.”
It’s unclear whether Kredo knew about the “Friends of Hamas” joke when he wrote his story on Monday. The writer did not respond to TPM’s request for comment, nor did Berger (though he seemed to respond with appreciation to tweets calling Kredo’s article “BS” and “bad faith”). The Wiesenthal Center also did not respond to TPM’s queries.