No apol­ogy from Fox in its bat­tle with The New York Times

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OBITUARIES -

Fox News Chan­nel on Monday clar­i­fied, but didn’t apol­o­gize for, a weekend seg­ment that The New York Times said falsely ac­cused the news­pa­per of re­veal­ing in­tel­li­gence in­for­ma­tion that en­abled Is­lamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Bagh­dadi to elude cap­ture by U.S. forces two years ago.

Times spokes­woman Danielle Rhoades Ha said Fox was guilty of “sheer hypocrisy” be­cause the net­work had also re­ported about a U.S. raid that net­ted valu­able in­tel­li­gence soon af­ter it took place.

The dis­pute be­tween the two news out­lets was mag­ni­fied by White House at­ten­tion. A “Fox & Friends” re­port Satur­day was head­lined, “NYT foils U.S. at­tempt to take out al-Bagh­dadi.” Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was ap­par­ently watch­ing, be­cause less than a half hour later he tweeted that the Times “foiled U.S. at­tempt to kill the sin­gle most wanted ter­ror­ist, Al-Bagh­dadi. Their sick agenda over Na­tional Se­cu­rity.”

The is­sue sur­faced fol­low­ing a Friday in­ter­view of Gen. Tony Thomas, head of the U.S. spe­cial op­er­a­tions com­mand, by Fox cor­re­spon­dent Cather­ine Her­ridge. They talked about a May 16, 2015 raid in Syria where U.S. forces killed a top al-Bagh­dadi aide and cap­tured his wife. Thomas said the raid gar­nered a valu­able lead that could have led the U.S. to al-Bagh­dadi, but it went cold af­ter it was leaked “in a prom­i­nent U.S. news­pa­per” about a week later. Her­ridge, writ­ing for Fox’s web­site, tied it to the Times.

The Pen­tagon an­nounced the raid the day af­ter it hap­pened and it was widely re­ported - in­clud­ing by Her­ridge, who said on “Fox News Sun­day” on May 17 that “a trea­sure trove of in­for­ma­tion” was gath­ered.

The Times pub­lished a more de­tailed story on June 18, 2015 about some of the in­tel­li­gence gath­ered in the raid, and that was ap­par­ently the story to which Thomas re­ferred.

The Times said that story was de­scribed to of­fi­cials in the Pen­tagon be­fore it was pub­lished and no ob­jec­tions were raised. No se­nior Amer­i­can of­fi­cial com­plained pub­licly about the story un­til now, two years later, the news­pa­per said. Fur­ther­more, the Times said it stretches credulity to think the se­cu­rity-con­scious al-Bagh­dadi would not have taken steps to pro­tect him­self more than three weeks af­ter learn­ing about the raid.

Rhoades Ha said no one from Fox con­tacted the Times for com­ment be­fore Her­ridge’s piece was pub­lished. She said the on­line story was changed to re­flect com­ment from the Times af­ter the news­pa­per reached out.

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