In late August, Mitt Romney’s failed presidential campaign made headlines when, following a particularly creative evening by the former Massachussetts governor, campaign staff stated that they would not let their campaign “be dictated by fact checkers.”
This bold declaration that political messaging trumped the need for truth led many pundits to dub the Romney campaign the birth of a “post-truth” messaging campaign.
Since then, several different prominent conservative pundits and media outlets have made up stories and invented rumors that were later accepted as gospel, spreading through the right wing echo chamber.
More reasonable conservative voices like David Frum have been calling for the right-wing spin machine to stop for a reality check, but it doesn’t seem to be having much of an effect.
1. Secretary of Defense Nominee [Never] Met With a Group Called “Friends of Hamas”
The most recent set of headlines that raised eyebrows came from Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro, who claimed that anonymous sources had informed him that secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel had met with a group called “Friends of Hamas.”
Unfortunately for Shapiro, New York Daily News writer Ben Friedman came clean early last week. Friedman published a piece in which he made clear that he was the “source” of the Friends of Hamas rumor, which originated when he made a joke on a media call, asking a staffer if Hagel had spoken with any other anti-Israeli groups like the Junior League of Hezbollah or the Friends of Hamas. Shapiro took the joke and ran it as news, claiming that a White House spokesman had “dodged” a question on Hagel’s relationship to Friends of Hamas.
Rather than correct himself, Shapiro doubled down on the nonsense, calling Friedman a “hack” and declaring, “welcome to the Obama media, where protecting Chuck Hagel and attacking any media who question Hagel is par for the course.” Shapiro went on to claim that “the story Breitbart News ran originally was accurate” and that Friedman wasn’t the source of the story.
And in case you’re still wondering, no, “Friends of Hamas” doesn’t exist and Ben Shapiro hasn’t provided any sources or proof.
2. Elite Liberals [Don’t] Have a Battalion of Armed Guards Guarding Their Kids
In the wake of Sandy Hook and the subsequent gun control debate, NBC’s David Gregory asked the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre whether the NRA’s proposed “National School Shield” program, which would place private armed guards in schools, was a good idea.
The Weekly Standard, a right-wing baby of Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes, responded to the Gregory interview by claiming that that both David Gregory’s and President Obama’s children went to a school with 11 armed guards.
The NRA subsequently created an ad based on this rumor, citing the Weekly Standard piece as the factual proof.
Unfortunately for both the Weekly Standard and the NRA, the school in question, Sidwell Friends, a K-12 school in Washington, D.C., only features a handful of unarmed security staff scheduled on rotation between two distinct campuses. The result? One or two unarmed security "guards" on campus at a given time. A far cry from the 11 armed guards the Weekly Standard “reported.”
3. Marines Guarding the U.S. Embassy in Egypt [Weren’t] Denied Live Ammunition
Following the September 11 attacks on the U.S. embassies in Benghazi and Cairo, Breitbart’s Dana Loesch reported that the State Department had banned Marines stationed at the Cairo embassy from carrying live ammunition. Her source? The Free Beacon, an arm of the right political lobbying organization, the Center for American Freedom.
4. Jeep Is [Not] Shipping Jobs to China
In the closing stretch of the 2012 Presidential campaign, the Romney campaign hit Obama with an ad claiming that the president’s bailout was resulting in Jeep shipping jobs to China.
The ad was based on this column by the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard which asserted that Jeep was going to “give up on the United States.” Of course, the implication was that the auto workers in the swing-state of Ohio would be losing their jobs thanks to president Obama’s bailout.
Jeep was absolutely going to build cars in China. So what’s inaccurate about the Examiner’s claims? Well, the production of Jeeps in China and the United States are not mutually exclusive. American jobs were never at risk – Fiat was simply looking to re-start production in China after putting it on hold in 2009. The production was never going to happen at the expense of American jobs (Chryster is even adding jobs in Ohio and Michigan) but that didn’t stop the right from trying to make it stick.
5. Republican Presidential Candidate Jon Huntsman Will [Not] Speak at the Democratic National Convention
Perennial truth-inventor Breitbart dropped this gem during the summer of the 2012 campaign. Citing personal information and private sources, Breitbart writer Mike Flynn asserted that GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman “has accepted a speaking slot at the Democrat convention in Charlotte.”
Huntsman was the target of Tea Party attacks throughout the GOP primary for his positions recognizing things like evolution and climate change. As we all know, Jon Huntsman never attended, visited, or spoke at the 2012 DNC. Mike Flynn, on the other hand, is still happily finding new things to make up at Breitbart.
The worst fact that all of these stories share?