Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON
Emily Miller, the chief investigative reporter for Washington, D.C.'s Fox 5 (WTTG) is leaving the station following the expiration of her two-year contract with the outlet.
Miller became known during her tenure at Fox 5 for using her role a reporter to advance a pro-gun agenda, leading the station to eventually disclose after criticism that she was "a proponent of Second Amendment rights." Controversy also arose surrounding the revelations that she had largely fabricated her story of being a "home invasion" victim, which she said propelled her into pro-gun advocacy.
Miller's time at Fox 5 was also characterized by several reporting missteps, including one that suggested innocent Middle Eastern men were terrorist suspects and another where Miller confused photographs of two black men, which resulted in incorrectly labeling one as having been convicted of a sex crime.
The conservative Washington Examiner first reported that Miller would leave Fox 5 at the conclusion of her contract, which began on April 28, 2014. Miller told the Examiner that she will pursue "a new investigative project."
Prior to joining Fox 5, Miller worked in conservative media and in Republican politics. Most recently, Miller served as the senior opinion editor for The Washington Times, where she also wrote a blog series about steps she took to legally acquire a handgun under Washington, D.C.'s firearms laws.
In conservative media circles, Miller was known for her pro-gun advocacy, and was a frequent source of misinformation on the topic, including her publication of a conspiratorial and falsehood-filled 2013 book titled Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours.
Shortly after Miller joined Fox 5, false information about gun violence appeared on the station. During a May 2014 appearance on Fox 5, Miller fabricated a Hillary Clinton quote from a speech at a conference to suggest that the former secretary of state held inconsistent positions on gun regulation. Miller said that Clinton had "talked about hunting and fishing and all that stuff. Now she is like, 'We need to pull back guns, nobody should have guns.'"
Contrary to Miller's claim, the former secretary of state actually said, "We've got to rein in what has become an almost article of faith that anybody can have a gun anywhere, anytime, and I don't believe that is in the best interest of the vast majority of people. I think you can say that and still support the right of people to own guns."
In January 2015, Media Matters reported on Miller's intention to speak at a pro-gun rally during a citizen lobbying day at the Virginia State Capitol. The rally was organized by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a far-right group that had included racially inflammatory content in newsletters and suggested that violence against the government was an option.
During the rally, Media Matters captured footage of Miller claiming that the District of Columbia "is not part of America" because of its gun laws. Miller's speech at the Virginia rally and later speech at a similar rally at Maryland's state capitol attracted the attention of journalism experts and The Washington Post's Erik Wemple who criticized Miller's dual role as a reporter and pro-gun advocate.
Following the criticism, a disclosure was added to Miller's gun-related appearances on Fox 5 and Fox News to inform viewers that she was "a proponent for Second Amendment Rights."
Miller hardly had the chance to report on guns for Fox 5, however, following a second controversy surrounding her claim to have survived a 2010 "home invasion."
On February 26, 2015, Wemple reported that Miller had given different accounts of the incident in order to "squeeze the story for additional terror" in support of her pro-gun advocacy.
In explaining why she got involved in pro-gun advocacy, Miller often told a harrowing story about how she was confronted by a man inside of a house she was watching during a "home invasion" robbery. After allegedly convincing the man to not hurt her, Miller said, she followed the man outside of the house, only to be chased back inside by more than a dozen of the man's accomplices.
But according to police documents obtained by Wemple, Miller told law enforcement she had encountered a suspicious man leaving the yard of the property as she returned from walking a dog, and the man gave her a business card relating to a firewood delivery service. Only hours later did Miller notice that someone had been inside the home when she realized credit cards were missing from a wallet she had left on a table.
Miller's reporting on the gun issue largely ended following that controversy, though in August 2015 Miller reported on a spike in gun violence in D.C. while Fox 5 disclosed her Second Amendment advocacy.
Miller's time at Fox 5 was characterized by several other missteps:
- In May 2015, Miller repeatedly and bizarrely emphasized the virginity of a Catholic nun who was sexually assaulted, making statements on air like, "Sources tell FOX 5 the victim, an older woman, was a virgin."
- In November 2015, Miller sparked terrorism fears in the D.C. area by publicizing an internal police document about local transit seeking information on four men who appear to be Middle Eastern engaged in "suspicious activity" on D.C.'s rapid transit system. Metro Transit Police later explained that the "routine" document was not intended to be released to the public, and by the time Miller tweeted it to her 50,000 followers, the issue had already been resolved.
- In January 2016, Miller confused photographs of two black men to file a report identifying the wrong person of having been accused and convicted of multiple sex crimes. The wrongly identified man told The Washington Post, "They kind of did it because he's a black man being there, and we're just the same." The man added that Fox 5's mistake damaged his reputation with some of his personal training clients.