Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fox News Hosts Breitbart's Shapiro Days After "Friends Of Hamas" Story Implodes

MATT GERTZ/Media Matters For America

Fox News rewarded Breitbart.com editor at large Ben Shapiro with an appearance less than a week after Shapiro publicly embarrassed himself over a fraudulent story linking Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel to the apparently nonexistent group "Friends of Hamas." 
Over the past few weeks, Shapiro has been skewered for attempting to smear Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel by reporting that (according to "Senate sources") he had received money from a shady group called "Friends of Hamas." 
After Shapiro's story imploded when it came to light that there's no evidence that "Friends of Hamas" actually exists, some in the conservative media suggested that their movement needed to police its own to maintain credibility. That accountability will not come from Fox News, which hosted him today and did not ask him about his failed smear.
Shapiro appeared for a discussion of the recent exchange between Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward and the White House over the sequester - a topic that countless other pundits could have discussed. During the segment, Shapiro attacked the media for allegedly being too soft on the Obama White House. From the February 25 America Live segment, hosted by Megyn Kelly:
Shapiro's initial February 7 report spread quickly through the conservative media, even showing up on Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight, until Slate's David Weigel pointed out that there was no evidence that "Friends of Hamas" actually existed. New York Daily News reporter Dan Friedman added to Shapiro's humiliation when he claimed in a February 19 column that a joke Friedman shared with a GOP source was possibly the provenance of "Friends of Hamas."
The Breitbart.com blogger has come in from widespread criticism from all quarters, with many pointing out that it was his responsibility to determine the plausibility of the "Friends of Hamas" claim rather than simply publishing it as an allegation. For their part, Shapiro and Breitbart.com have denied any failing and lashed out at their critics.
In a February 21 article for TheAtlantic.com, conservative writer Conor Friedersdorf wrote that the conservative media "need to self-police for their own sake." Citing the Shapiro affair, he wrote that other conservative reporters need to be willing to criticize their peers when they get stories wrong and punish those who repeatedly fail to provide accurate information. But he warned that this was unlikely to happen:
Yet inside conservative media, he'll likely maintain his standing. National Review contributors might be more careful when touting his stories. But there won't be public blowback. It won't seem like his peers are outraged or angered that someone is spending down the credibility of conservative media. And Breitbart presumably won't issue an apology, or hire a public editor, or take any other significant step to bolster its credibility among the people who mistrust it.
Fox, at least, appears to have no interest in enforcing standards with regard to who they book. As Friedersdorf notes, among the right-wing media "Only loyalty is vocally enforced."
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