The Fox News anchors of the Robert Mueller hearings have pushed misinformation about his investigation

Fox News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum will host the channel’s coverage of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s July 24 congressional testimony before the House judiciary and intelligence committees. But both Fox “news”-side anchors have pushed misinformation about the Trump/Russia probe throughout the investigation.

Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

Fox announced Baier and MacCallum will anchor its coverage of Mueller’s congressional testimony

Mueller will testify July 24 to the House judiciary and intelligence committees. Former special counsel Robert Mueller agreed to testify on July 24 before the House judiciary and intelligence committees “about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump.” [The Washington Post, 7/12/19]

Fox News announced Baier and MacCallum will anchor all-day coverage of the Mueller hearings. [Fox News, 7/16/19]

Baier and MacCallum have spread misinformation about the Trump/Russia investigation

Baier said the Obama administration “start[ed] a wiretap at Trump Tower,” which Trump later used to justify his conspiracy theory that he was wiretapped during the campaign. During a March 2017 interview with former House Speaker Paul Ryan, Baier said the Obama administration “start[ed] a wiretap at Trump Tower with some computer.” Trump later cited Baier using the word “wiretap” to justify claiming the Obama administration had “wiretapped” him during the 2016 presidential campaign. [Business Insider, 3/16/17; Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/15/17; Media Matters, 3/15/17]

Baier validated the “deep state” conspiracy theory in an interview with then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Baier asked Pompeo, “So for all that's been written about the deep state, what's your thought as the head of one of the agencies that's said to be part of the deep state and the leaks and everything else?” [Fox News, Special Report, 9/11/17]

MacCallum joined with pro-Trump Fox opinion hosts in pushing the bogus Uranium One conspiracy theory, a Fox effort to distract from the Trump/Russia investigation. [Media Matters, 11/9/17; Slate, 10/19/17]

Baier pushed the quickly abandoned conspiracy theory that text messages between two FBI officials pointed to the existence of an anti-Trump “secret society” in the agency. Fox’s mentions of the texts dropped off after ABC News reported the full exchange and revealed it was likely a joke. [Fox News, The Daily Briefing, 1/23/18; Media Matters, 1/25/18]

MacCallum’s show pushed a previously debunked story about FBI text messages to undermine the agency during the Trump/Russia investigation. Fox News had claimed that FBI text messages showed that President Barack Obama was “keeping tabs on” the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails to potentially influence the 2016 election. In fact, before MacCallum pushed the claim, reports had already debunked that narrative and explained that Obama actually wanted information about the investigation into Russia’s election interference. [Fox News, The Story, 2/7/18; Media Matters, 2/7/18; 2/8/18]

MacCallum misleadingly suggested there were multiple FISA warrants targeting the Trump campaign. But the only known FISA warrant issued to monitor anyone associated with the Trump campaign was for foreign policy adviser Carter Page, and the application for that warrant was not submitted until a month after he left the campaign. [Fox News, The Story, 2/19/19; The Washington Post, 5/6/19]

MacCallum pressed a Democratic lawmaker to support retaliatory investigations against the Obama administration after the Mueller probe wrapped up. [Fox News, The Story, 3/25/19]

MacCallum falsely stated that the Trump/Russia investigation was started because of “the [Steele] dossier and an article that was written on Yahoo News.” As explained, the investigation began weeks before the FBI received Christopher Steele’s dossier, and it was started after the FBI received information from another source that former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos “had contacts with Russian intermediaries during the campaign.” [Fox News, The Story, 3/25/19;, 3/27/19]

MacCallum gave support to Papadopoulos’ claim that he was set up and allowed him to campaign for a presidential pardon. Even though MacCallum noted that Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, she reacted credulously to his claim of a “setup,” saying there were “similar suspicions about some of the other gentlemen that you spoke to, that they maybe also were in on this plot to sort of entrap you into this situation.” [Fox News, The Story, 3/26/19; Media Matters, 3/28/19]

MacCallum falsely claimed that rules prevented Attorney General William Barr from releasing the unredacted version of Mueller’s report to Congress. In fact, the law allows members of Congress to access classified information and grand jury material. [Fox News, The Story, 4/5/19; Media Matters, 5/9/19]

MacCallum falsely claimed that Trump couldn’t obstruct justice if there was “no underlying crime.” Trump later cited her. MacCallum had said that “when there's not an underlying crime with regard to collusion ... it's difficult to say that someone is obstructing something. … If there’s no underlying crime, that is one of the reasons that Robert Mueller was unable to make a finding there.” As a law professor wrote in The Washington Post, “It’s black letter law that a defendant can satisfy the corrupt intent criterion for obstruction even if the defendant himself committed no underlying crime.” [Twitter, 4/18/19; Fox News, The Story, 4/18/19; The Washington Post, 3/26/19]

Baier claimed that “we do know one thing: There was no interference” in Mueller’s probe because the special counsel turned over a finished report. In fact, Mueller’s report highlighted multiple instances of possibly obstructive behavior and actions from Trump. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 4/18/19; Media Matters, 5/30/19]

Baier claimed that Barr was “kind of laying it out straight, cut, and dry” in his press conference just prior to the public release of the redacted Mueller report. The subsequent release of the report showed that Barr misrepresented several sections of Mueller’s report. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 4/18/19; The Atlantic, 5/1/19]

MacCallum claimed Trump “was so forthcoming” with the Mueller probe. In reality, Trump refused to be interviewed for the investigation. [Fox News, The Daily Briefing, 4/18/19; USA Today, 1/10/18]

MacCallum defended Barr’s hundreds of redactions in the Mueller report: “It is, I think by most standards, fairly lightly redacted.” In fact, about one-third of the more than 400-page report had at least one redaction, including 12 pages that were entirely redacted, and there were more than 900 separate redactions in total. [Fox News, The Story, 4/18/19; BuzzFeed News, 4/18/19; The Hill, 4/18/19]

Baier gave credence to conservatives’ calls to investigate the Trump/Russia investigators. Baier falsely stated, “We don't yet know about the origins of the investigation -- the [inspector general] may shed some light on that, other investigations in the early stages.” In fact, February 2018 House Intelligence Committee memos explained that the investigation was triggered in July 2016 after the FBI received information that Papadopoulos claimed to have access to Russian “dirt” about Hillary Clinton. [Fox News, Special Report, 4/19/19;, 3/27/19]

MacCallum claimed Mueller’s job “was to determine whether or not there was a criminal charge that should be made” against the president. In fact, Mueller explained that “Justice Department regulations do not permit the indictment of a sitting president,” so “charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.” [Media Matters, 5/30/19]