Hagel's media defense team

Joel Pollack:
Throughout the fight over Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense, a devoted group of pro-Hagel journalists has been determined not only to defend Hagel, but to attack his critics and their credibility. They have gone beyond the “normal” mainstream media bias, which for most outlets merely meant ignoring flaws in Hagel’s record and his refusal to disclose key information. “Team Hagel” has even ignored its own scoops.
For example, BuzzFeed was the first outlet on Feb. 14 to recover and post the prepared text of a controversial speech that then-Sen. Hagel delivered at Rutgers University in March 2007. (The controversy surrounds remarks allegedly made by Hagel about Israel in the question-and-answer session that followed.) BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smithimmediately took to Twitter to declare: “Nothing eyebrow raising in that prepared text.”

Evidently Smith had not read the speech properly, because he tweeted a few minutes later: “Actually, that '07 Hagel speech isn't so innocuous,on a second read. Hagel wanted consulate in Iran, talked cooperation.” For Smith, debunking criticism of Hagel was a higher priority than getting the story right--a story that BuzzFeed itself was the first to have, and could have been the first to break at a critical moment in the debate.

In a similar episode, Politico’s Dylan Byers and Mackenzie Weinger were the first to break the news that a 2008 speech by Hagel to the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) had been recovered and would be released later that day. Byers and Weinger reported, without having viewed the speech for themselves, that there was no newsworthy information in Hagel’s remarks: “the tape comes up clean,” they wrote.

Their sole source for the story was the ADC itself, an organization so anti-Israel that it gave an award to former journalist Helen Thomas after her anti-Jewish views had been exposed, even naming a scholarship after her. Yet when the video was released, it was clear that Byers and MacKenzie were wrong: Hagel suggested the U.S. was trying to “dictate” to Iran, a radical statement given that pressure on Iran has been multilateral.

Byers was also wrong on another point: he had suggested, prior to the video’s release, that it was debatable whether Hagel’s remarks had been “formal,” meaning Hagel may not have misled the Senate by not making the video available. But the video made clear that the speech was formal, even if extemporaneous: Hagel was the keynote speaker, and was given an official introduction, delivering his remarks from the dais of dignitaries.
There is more.

The Hagel defense has been aggressive in its criticism of those who oppose him.  The attacks on on Ted Cruz are nothing short of scandalous insults that ignore the facts, not to mention the facts he was trying to obtain from Hagel.  For some reason the Hagel defense media does not want tot he facts disclosed.  The inference that can be drawn from that is that they do not believe it would help his cause.  

That, BTW, is what the law presumes when litigants fail to produce documents or testimony in a discovery proceeding.  It is a rule of evidence that has been around longer than most people's memory of Joe McCarthy whose name was brought up as a slur against Hagel opponents.


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