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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reporter Inadvertently Starts Chuck Hagel Rumor

Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate Armed Services Committee's confirmation hearing on  Jan. 31, 2013. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s confirmation hearing on Jan. 31, 2013. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

During the confirmation hearings for Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense, Hagel ran into opposition from some Republicans over allegations that he had received funding from foreign sources.

A screenshot of the Feb. 7, 2013, story by  Ben Shapiro in Breitbart News. (breitbart.com)

A screenshot of the Feb. 7, 2013, story by Ben Shapiro in Breitbart News (click to expand).

Among the allegations swirling was a rumor that Hagel had received money for speaking to a group called “Friends of Hamas.”

Senator Rand Paul said that he found the allegations “very concerning.”

Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said that “rumors of Chuck Hagel’s having received funds from Friends of Hamas,” would, if true, “disqualify him.”

And on Lou Dobbs’ Fox Business show, a columnist from National Review brought up the group “Friends of Hamas” as an example of what Hagel might be hiding.

But it turns out the allegations of Hagel receiving foreign funding are not true.

The group “Friends of Hamas” does not exist, and Chuck Hagel has never had anything to do with any such group.

So how does a rumor like that start?

Writer Dan Friedman of the New York Daily News says that in this case, he knows exactly how it started – he was the unwitting source.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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