Chuck Hagel shakes Barack Obama’s hand after his nomination. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais.)
Yes, we can all enjoy a laugh for a few days over the Breitbartian “scoop” that wasn’t—Chuck Hagel, nominee for Pentagon chief, getting funds from “The Friends of Hamas.” There’s even a fake Friends of Hamas webpage mocking the Breitbart.com generator of the scandal, young Ben Shapiro, while others make fun of Shapiro for claiming his original claim was “caveated” (maybe he meant “cravated”).
More mirth has ensued from the aggressive yet lightheaded new senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, asserting that Iran’s leaders have embraced Hagel’s nomination, an allegedly scary and unprecedented action from any hostile foreign government. Also, need we point out, untrue.
You can’t make this stuff up. Except that many do.
Enjoy it while you can. For the simple fact is, the right-wing media, and the right-wingers in Congress, couldn't care less. They will go on making shit up, in some cases merely rallying their followers, in others doing that plus getting respectful coverage in mainstream news and commentary outlets.
Matthew Duss observes at The American Prospect:
Much like the belief that Barack Obama is a secret Islamist sympathizer, Cruz’s comments were the product of a hermetically sealed, Fox News-fed reality. The ensuing stories in Politico, The New York Times and The Washington Post scolding Cruz for his antics are a win-win for the freshman senator, providing him both greater visibility and negative attention from the “lamestream media” that delights his right-wing base.
As Alex Koppelman points out today at The New Yorker, this is their modus operandi. As much as we may complain about the mainstream media, they at least, in most cases, take the trouble to check many of the facts, seek more than one source for a story, and not print every tip or rumor that furthers an agenda.
Koppelman covers the Friends of Hamas jokefest but also explores the more typical case of Weekly Standard writer Daniel Halper’s assertions after NBC’s David Gregory had the nerve to question the NRA’s Wayne Lapierre about his call for putting armed guards in every school. Halper claimed that Gregory’s kids attended a school which has an eleven-man armed security staff, which was blatantly false. Koppelman concludes:
At some point, if they want to be taken more seriously, members of the conservative media will have to take their own declarations about the commitment to journalism more seriously. More importantly, they’ll have to realize that reporting isn’t just the means to a desired political end; done right, it’s the end in itself, no matter what it digs up.
But this misses the point. Most of the more conservative outlets could care less about being taken seriously outside their bubble. They’ve done fine, in their view, so far without having to worry about that.
Meanwhile, liberals and progressives—despite their own harsh criticism of many policies and actions emerging from the White House and Democrats on the Hill—continue to enjoy a certain sense of overall political and demographic trends moving in their direction. That’s fine. Catching one’s breath is always needed from time to time.
But in case you think the future is not oh-so-rosy: Nate (the Great) SIlver re-emerged last night with a lengthy assessment at his NYT blog of the 2014 races for the US Senate. He charted each one. And guess what: He warns that the Democrats, despite those favorable trends, could very well lose control of the body. Why? It happens that nearly all of the Republicans up for re-election have safe seats, while the Democrats—who must defend many more of them—have to contend with many tough contests and the almost certain loss of a seat in West Virginia.
And that’s nothing to laugh about.
So the Beltway media hasn’t received much access to Obama—
they would squander it even if they did, Greg Mitchell writes.