Megyn Kelly and America Live were on Republican Rehab detail yesterday afternoon as they didn’t just ignore guest Ben Shapiro’s bogus and irresponsible smear of SecDef nominee Chuck Hagel but presented Shapiro as some kind of arbiter of truth in reporting. Shapiro, you may recall, wrote the now-discredited and widely lambasted Breitbart.com post with the salacious title, “SECRET HAGEL DONOR?: WHITE HOUSE SPOX DUCKS QUESTION ON ‘FRIENDS OF HAMAS.’ Not only is there no such group as “Friends of Hamas,” but the name was probably dreamt up by a Daily News reporter who figured it was so over the top that nobody would miss that it was a joke name.
As Media Matters wrote:
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.
A few days ago I noted that I had seen no coverage of the story on “fair and balanced” Fox despite their constant finger-pointing at other media outlets for bias, deception and omissions. I wondered if Fox wasn’t trying to bury the story that badly tarnished one of their pals. Apparently, Fox wasn’t just trying to bury it but actively working to recast Shapiro as some kind of upstanding truth teller. And Megyn Kelly – who previously gushed over another Breitbarter caught promoting a fraudulent story – was there to help the pretense along.
The pretext for the discussion was whether to believe the Obama administration or “legendary journalist” Bob Woodward “who was granted intimate access to the White House” as to whether or not the White House was to blame for the looming sequester budget cuts. In case that didn’t clue you in as to whom to believe, Kelly later made her hints far more explicit.
Kelly introduced Shapiro by saying, “Joining me now for a fair and balanced debate, Ben Shapiro. He’s editor at large at Breitbart news and author of the book (she plugged the title and its subtitle).”
The other guest was Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky, presumably a Democrat. She also failed to note Shapiro’s stunning lack of credibility in general or on the subject of truth in media in particular. Instead, she played the "both sides do it" card by attacking the White House’s “crazy and inconsistent” messaging on the subject as well as the Republicans’ “crazy and inconsistent” messaging.
“It’s one of those things of who do you believe? Do you believe the White House, that has a political stake in this or do you believe Bob Woodward who is not known for bashing the left or making up lies about President Obama and so on. I mean, is there a credibility problem with – I’m not talking about President Obama but the spokesperson Jay Carney who’s coming out and calling Bob Woodward ‘willfully wrong’ on this. And Woodward’s writing back, saying, ‘This is a classic case of distortion and confusion by the White House.’”
Meanwhile, of course, Kelly was ignoring the “credibility problem” right there on the screen with her. In fact, she was all ears as Shapiro explained why it matters if the White House is “actively misleading.”
Kelly later put on an "I don't know what to think" face and turned to Shapiro to explain it all to her: “It’s like we’re at the point now where we don’t really expect Washington to tell us the truth. Is that where we are, Ben?”
Once again, she and Roginsky listened respectfully as Shapiro had the nerve to say, “The larger point here is about the relationship of the media to the Obama administration. …This is an active attempt by the White House and by the Democratic Party to openly say that the media has to parrot their message or they’re going to be cut out of the loop or personally attacked the way that Bob Woodward is.”
In her closing, Kelly all but jumped up and called the Obama administration liars as she quoted Woodward’s column:
“’Not only did President Obama personally approve of the plan to propose a sequester’ but he says specifically, ‘Then his lieutenants did so at 2:30 PM, July 27th 2011,’ I mean, the man has got dates, he’s got times, he’s got participants, he’s got the exact sequence in which he claims it happened, and then he’s got Jay Carney last week saying, in fact, ‘It was an idea the White House put forward.’ So it’s interesting to hear the pushback now at any event.’”
Kelly then asked, “Who knows, right?”