Fox News is caught up in a fake news scandal of its own making because the network didn’t bother checking with The New York Times before accusing the newspaper of interfering with a U.S. military operation targeting the Islamic State in 2015.
President Donald Trump, who appears to get his early–morning intel from Fox News before tweeting, is equally to blame for the fiasco. The New York Times is now demanding an apology, although as I write this, the story remains live on Fox News’ site.
The imbroglio began early Saturday morning when Trump tweeted (at 4:45 a.m.!): “The Failing New York Times foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist, Al-Baghdadi. Their sick agenda over National Security.”
According to the Times, the president sent the tweet 25 minutes after Fox News broadcast a report attributed to comments by Gen. Tony Thomas. Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on Friday, Thomas said a 2015 lead on the location of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al–Baghdadi was “leaked in a prominent national newspaper,” and that al–Baghdadi was tipped off by the report and escaped. He did not mention The New York Times by name.
Fox and Friends rebroadcast the accusation later in the morning, this time citing Trump’s tweet, creating the perfect Fox–Trump–Fox confirmation loop. In that broadcast, Trump apologist and Fox and Friends contributor Pete Hegseth, newspaper in hand for dramatic effect, repeatedly referred to the “failing New York Times.”
“That’s one of the other reasons it’s ‘the failing New York Times’—it’s not just failing in its credibility, it’s failing our country,” Hegseth said, while his co–hosts, with no apparent irony, launched into a rant about the “role of media today.”
Watch the Fox and Friends segment here:
The New York Times has a different version of events:
But a review of the record shows that information made public in a Pentagon news release more than three weeks before the Times article, and extensively covered at the time by numerous news media outlets, would have tipped off Mr. Baghdadi that the United States was questioning an important Islamic State operative who knew of his recent whereabouts and some of his methods of communication. Further, the information in the Times article on June 8 came from United States government officials who were aware that the details would be published.
Oops. Of course, the White House would not comment on Trump’s tweet.
On Sunday, Politico reporter Hadas Gold tweeted that the Times sent a letter to Fox requesting an on–air apology and tweet about the “malicious and inaccurate segment…”
Read The New York Times’ entire account here.