The New York Times called for an apology from Fox News’ Fox & Friends program in an open letter Sunday. The newspaper called the network’s report linking it to intelligence leaks back in 2015 “malicious and inaccurate.” On Monday, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy issued an “update” on the matter, but not an apology.
“And now an update to a story we reported over the weekend: Gen. Tony Thomas, who leads the Special Operations command, telling our own Catherine Herridge last week that the U.S. military was close to tracking down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after a 2015 raid that extracted tons of intel, but he ended up getting away,” Doocy said before showing a clip of Thomas referencing “some leaks” that prevented the military from tracking down al-Baghdadi at that time.
“Well, on Sunday, the New York Times sent Fox News a lengthy statement saying the Times described its 2015 reporting prior to the Pentagon before publication and they had no objection and no senior American officials had complained publicly until now,” Doocy said. “You want to read the entire statement? It is posted on FoxNews.com.”
Though Thomas did not specifically name the New York Times, during Saturday’s Fox & Friends Weekend show, a Fox host called the publication out by name and questioned its validity. (Fox News published a written version of the story Friday with the chyron “NYT FOILS U.S. ATTEMPT TO TAKE OUT AL-BAHGDADI.”)
“It’s not just failing in its credibility,” co-host Pete Hegseth said Saturday. “It’s failing our country. … You need a patriotic journalist.”
The Times article in question was published on June 8, 2015 and detailed an American military raid in which the wife of a top Islamic State operative was captured.
On Saturday, President Trump appeared to latch onto the headline and tweeted his own rendition of the claims. “The Failing New York Times foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist, Al-Baghdadi,” Trump wrote. “Their sick agenda over National Security.”
In response to the segment, Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades-Ha issued a statement calling for an apology from the network.
“Neither the staff at ‘Fox & Friends,’ nor the writers of a related story on FoxNews.com, appeared to make any attempt to confirm relevant facts, nor did they reach out to The New York Times for comment,” she said. Rhoades-Ha also pointed to the fact that the timeline was clearly being misrepresented. The Times story could not have possibly affected the raid, she noted in the statement, because “in fact the raid against Abu Sayyaf occurred on May 16, 2015 and was announced that day in an official statement by Defense Secretary Ash Carter.”
“Baghdadi would have known that Umm Sayyaf, Abu Sayyaf’s wife, was being held, if not from his own communications network then from the Pentagon’s announcement and news reports about that announcement,” Rhoades-Ha continued. “It the U.S. government wanted to keep the detention and likely interrogation of the wife secret, the Pentagon would not have publicly announced it.”
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Fox News said, “The FoxNews.com story was already updated online yesterday and Fox & Friends provided an updated story to viewers this morning based on the FoxNews.com report. For all of their hyperventilating to the media about a correction, the New York Times didn’t reach out to anyone at Fox News until Sunday afternoon for a story that ran Friday night. Neither Fox News’ report nor the subsequent on-air coverage was inaccurate. We find it beyond disappointing that the New York Times, in an attempt to distract from their recent debacle, decided to blame Fox News for comments made publicly by General Thomas during a widely viewed panel at the Aspen Security Forum. It might behoove the Times to actually check in with their reporter Eric Schmitt to see whether Gen. Thomas’ comments have merit and whether Schmitt’s reporting in 2015 revealed intelligence that allowed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to slip away.”