“Fox & Friends” ran a report Saturday claiming the New York Times is to blame for the escape of an ISIS terror leader in 2015, prompting the Times to request an apology and ask for a retraction.
“I am writing on behalf of The New York Times to request an on-air apology and tweet from Fox & Friends in regards to a malicious and inaccurate segment ‘NY Times leak allowed ISIS leader to slip away,’” wrote the Times VP of communications, Danielle Rhoades Ha.
The “Fox & Friends” television segment included a chyron at the bottom of the screen that read “NYT FOILS U.S. ATTEMPT TO TAKE OUT AL-BAGHDADI.”
About 20 minutes after the report aired, President Donald Trump tweeted “The Failing New York Times foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist, Al-Baghdadi.Their sick agenda over National Security”
The report claims the Times released information pertaining to a military raid carried out in Syria, leading to the death of one of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s key lieutenants, Abu Sayyaf. The raid also led to the capture of Sayyaf’s wife, who played a prominent role in the terrorist organization, along with numerous documents and laptops.
The report referenced comments made by the head of the United States Special Operations Command Gen. Tony Thomas Friday in a interview with Fox News’ intelligence correspondent, Catherine Herridge.
Thomas told Herridge that a valuable lead as to Al-Baghdadi’s location “was leaked in a prominent national newspaper about a week later and that lead went dead.” Thomas never mentioned any news outlet or publication by name.
The Times disputes the allegations made in the “Fox & Friends” report and Trump’s tweet.
“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.”
Politico reports that Rhoades Ha included in her request letter that “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.”
A Fox News executive hammered Rhoades Ha for seeking the apology “a day and a half AFTER the FoxNews.com story was published… Seems like an awfully long time to wait to correct something if they were so concerned about accuracy.”
“If we notified the press every time the N.Y. Times had to update an online story or correct something, your inbox would crash,” the executive added.
“Neither FOX News’ report nor the subsequent on-air coverage was inaccurate,” Fox News told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement. “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.”
Fox News has updated the report on its website and attached the letter.
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