When I first learned of the Internet in the 1990s, I concluded that it would mark the end of both secrecy and certainty. Errors would circulate as fast as truth, and the desire to share inside information would be more powerful than most secrecy rules.
Now we have a telling example of how this works, and how journalism works in Washington. Those stories that Chuck Hagel might have given a speech to a "Friends of Hamas" group? Bogus. The source of the rumor tells all. A New York Daily News reporter called a Republican congressional source and asked whether he knew of questionable Hagel speeches-for-hire. As an indication of the sort of thing he considered newsworthy, he suggested speaking to "Friends of Hamas," a non-existent group. The Hill source shared the idea as speculation, and the rumor took off. The partisan echo chamber, eager to find dirt on the former Republican Senator, repeated the rumor as if it were true. Sad, sad.