Fact-checkers had a field day with the Tea Party darling's false charges against Hagel, but the far right ate it up
BY JOAN WALSH
Tea Party Texas Sen. Ted Cruz made his big-time national debut today hectoring Defense nominee Chuck Hagel, the former GOP senator, and the righty blogs ate it up, even if the rest of the world scratched its head, and fact-checkers took apart his claims.
Armed with silly props, Cruz hit Hagel with appearances on Al Jazeera in which Hagel appeared to agree with callers who attacked the U.S. or Israel, plus an interview in which he described Israel’s 2006 military campaign against Lebanon as “sickening slaughter.”
Reporters quickly showed that Cruz distorted Hagel’s replies to the Al Jazeera callers, either by leaving out the context of his answers or truncating them. Slate’s Dave Weigel showed that Cruz also took the “sickening slaughter” quote out of context – he actually attacked “sickening slaughter on both sides,” acknowledging the role of Hezbollah rockets in triggering and then escalating the ugly conflict.
The right, of course, ate it all up. “Ted Cruz Stuns Hagel With Al Jazeera ‘Bully’ Bite,” Fox Nation screamed. “Ted Cruz shows that Hagel slandered both Israel and the U.S.,” shrieked Powerline. “HAGEL IS AS BIG AN IMBECILE AS OBAMA,” shrieked one Twitter loon with an Andrew Breitbart avatar.