This weekend, Fox & Friends incorrectly reported that a New York Times article foiled a United States military operation to kill Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Trump, an avid watcher and live-tweeter of the conservative news outlet, heard the report and launched an attack of his own on the New York Times. But when the iconic newspaper debunked Fox’s coverage that same day, they demanded “an on-air apology and tweet… in regards to a malicious and inaccurate segment.”
New York Times has asked fox and friends for an apology pic.twitter.com/QIoqXnqwmK
— Hadas Gold (@Hadas_Gold) July 23, 2017
During Monday’s segment of Fox & Friends, however, not only did the hosts refuse to apologize to the Times, but they failed to acknowledge any errors in their reporting in the first place. Host Steve Doocy simply offered “an update to a story reported over the weekend” and referenced “a lengthy statement” from the New York Times on Fox News’ website.
(UPDATED) U.S. General: Leak let ISIS leader slip away pic.twitter.com/wNJgQqOK1b
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) July 24, 2017
It should be noted, however, that being fact-checked and duly disproven is not an “update.” Rather, it calls for a retraction, not a smug deflection to a “lengthy” statement. Furthermore, the fact that Doocy derides the Times’ comprehensive correction as “lengthy” is a testament to their complete lack of ethical standards.
Fox News had erroneously cited comments made by General Tony Thomas, head of the United States Special Operations Command, at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado. Thomas claimed that the U.S. military had a “very good” lead on Baghdadi’s whereabouts in 2015, but “unfortunately, it was leaked in a prominent national newspaper about a week later and that lead went dead.” This prompted Trump’s own ill-vetted tweet.
The Failing New York Times foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist,Al-Baghdadi.Their sick agenda over National Security
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017
However, the New York Times debunked this erroneous coverage with their article, “How Trump Got It Wrong in Saying The Times ‘Foiled’ Killing of ISIS Leader.” The article notes that “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.”
Fox & Friends’ unwillingness to concede their error is not only unethical but – because the conservative network has an exclusive audience with the President – potentially dangerous. By sowing the seeds of distrust between Washington, D.C. and the press whose job it is to hold them accountable, Fox News is not only deliberately spreading misinformation, but creating a wholly unnecessary divide within our country. While we no longer expect our President to act with any integrity or dignity, we should at least expect a degree of it from the press.