The Brain Room report bears the name of Bryan Murphy, a senior political affairs specialist at Fox News. It also bears this withering assessment of John Solomon, former opinion contributor for the Hill who is responsible for setting in motion faulty story lines regarding Ukraine: “John Solomon played an indispensable role in the collection and domestic publication of elements of this disinformation campaign.” Another part of the document provides this assessment of Solomon: “Focus on stories from disinformation campaign, non-disclosure of conflicts, use of unreliable sources, publishing false and misleading stories, misrepresentation of sources, and opaque coordination with involved parties.”
That says it all. Even as it levels that critique, the Brain Room document discloses that Solomon is a “Fox News contributor.” Indeed, though Solomon appeared as a guest frequently on “Hannity” throughout the Ukraine story, he left the Hill in fall 2019 and was hired as a contributor at Fox News in October.
Not only does the research paper pummel Solomon, it cites a statistic that Solomon, over six months in 2019, “published 45 columns aimed at discrediting the Russia investigation, 12 of which focused primarily on Ukraine." Where did that statistic come from?
Media Matters for America! Yes, Media Matters for America, the organization essentially built to take down Fox News. Media Matters for America, the organization routinely slammed on Fox News’s air. Media Matters for America, the organization that essentially forced Glenn Beck from Fox News.
It’s a stunning juxtaposition — one that speaks to the integrity of the Brain Room report.
Here is Julie Millican’s piece on John Solomon’s Ukraine disinformation campaign that was cited in the report.
Wemple goes on to give specific examples of how the report criticizes Hannity in detail. One entry is as follows:
September 26, 2019: John Solomon, Toensing, and diGenova all appear on Hannity again to discuss Shokin’s affidavit, filed at the request of Firtash’s attorneys. At no time during the program does Hannity, Toensing, and diGenova mention who requested the statement nor do they discuss that they are Firtash’s attorneys. Solomon also doesn’t mention that he shares attorneys with Firtash. diGenova says “we’ve known from the very beginning that Mr. Shokin was not a corrupt prosecutor.” (856) Later that night, President Trump tweets a clip of diGenova from Hannity. (857)
Media Matters has previously pointed out Hannity’s lack of disclosure around this issue (and many others). But let’s be honest: It didn’t take a 162-page memo to know that Sean Hannity is a political operative masquerading as a cable news host. A responsible news organization would have immediately fired Hannity after his Seth Rich debacle.
No, the lesson from this memo is simple: Everyone at Fox knew the truth about Hannity and Solomon’s Ukraine disinformation campaign and its connection to Trump’s impeachment. Every news anchor at Fox knew. Every Fox News host knew. Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch knew. If anyone claims that they didn’t know, it’s because they buried their head in the sand.
The memo proves that it’s possible to do journalism at Fox News. It is not possible, apparently, to get that journalism to an audience outside the building -- unless you leak it to real reporters.