Fox & Friends was forced to clarify on air a flawed report from the weekend edition of the show blaming The New York Times for the U.S. military missing a chance to capture ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Fox & Friends Saturday co-host Pete Hegseth uncritically repeated a claim that a general told a Fox correspondent, saying, “We would have had al-Baghdadi based on the intelligence we had, except someone leaked information to the failing New York Times in 2015 … and as a result he slipped away.” President Donald Trump subsequently attacked the Times on Twitter following Fox's report.
The Times later sent a letter to the show, which has a history of botched reporting, criticizing the “little regard it has for reporting facts” and demanding “an on-air apology.” The response noted that the information in question had been announced by the Pentagon weeks before the report ran and that the Pentagon had “no objections” to the report when it was published. Doocy did not apologize and relayed only parts of the Times' statement, but acknowledged the “update” and pointed viewers to Fox News' website if “you want to read the entire statement.” From the July 24 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): And now an update to a story we reported over the weekend. General 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.
GEN. TONY THOMAS: There were points in time when we were particularly close to him. Unfortunately there were some leaks about what we were up to about that time. When we went out after Abu Sayyaf -- the oil minister who was very close to him, one of his personal confidants -- he didn't live, but his wife did, and she gave us a treasure trove of information about where she had just been with Baghdadi in Raqqa days, if not -- within days prior, and so that was a very good lead. Unfortunately it was leaked in a prominent national newspaper about a week later and that lead went dead. So, that's the challenge we have in terms of where and how our tactics and procedures are discussed openly. There's a great need to inform the American public about what we're up to. There's also a great need to recognize things that will absolutely undercut our ability to do our job.
DOOCY: Well on Sunday The New York Times sent Fox News a lengthy statement saying the Times described its 2015 reporting to the Pentagon before publication and they had no objections and no senior American officials have ever complained publicly until now. You want to read the entire statement, it is posted on FoxNews.com.
UPDATE: Following Doocy’s segment, the Times released a statement criticizing Fox & Friends for not issuing an apology and for “sheer hypocrisy.” The Times noted that Fox News “covered the same raid three weeks” before the Times report and added that “according to the curious logic of [Doocy], Fox News itself was unpatriotic.”
Fox News replied to the New York Times' statement by attacking the paper for “hyperventilating to the media.”