Fox Attempts To Downplay Report On Russian Hacking By Falsely Blaming Podesta's Password

After top United States intelligence officials testified before Congress and confirmed reports that Russia orchestrated efforts to undermine the 2016 presidential election, right-wing news figures deflected from the report by falsely blaming John Podesta’s email password for cybersecurity breaches.

Intelligence Director Testifies That Russia Interfered With US Election Using Hacking And Propaganda

Wash. Post: Top US Official Testified That Russia Orchestrated Effort To Undermine US Election. The United States’ top intelligence official, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, testified before Congress that Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election “went well beyond hacking” and that the federal intelligence community stood “more resolutely” behind the intelligence community’s finding that the Russian government orchestrated an interference campaign during the election:

The country’s top intelligence official testified to Congress on Thursday that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign went well beyond hacking to ­include disinformation and the dissemination of “fake news” — an effort, he said, that continues.

“Whatever crack, fissure, they could find in our tapestry . . . they would exploit it,” said Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on foreign cybersecurity threats, especially Russian hacking and interference in the election.


At the hearing, Clapper said the intelligence community stands “more resolutely” than ever behind its assessment — first publicly announced on Oct. 7 — officially accusing the Kremlin’s “senior-most” officials of orchestrating a campaign of interference in the 2016 election. [The Washington Post, 1/5/17]

After Clapper’s Testimony, Right-Wing Media Tried To Deflect By Falsely Blaming John Podesta’s Email Password For The Hacks

Fox Host Harris Faulkner: Podesta’s Email Password Was “Password,” “How Could You Be Stupid For This Long?” On January 6, Outnumbered co-host Harris Faulkner deflected from the findings that Russians organized an effort to interfere with the presidential election by claiming that John Podesta’s email password reflected a larger cybersecurity issue in the United States, asking “ how could you be stupid for this long?”:

HARRIS FAULKNER (CO-HOST): One thing that Republicans have said, and this is a consistent message across the board that I’ve seen from them, and that is that they have to tread lightly here with this whole topic because it easily could be them who are hacked now. So, why not rise up and look at the bigger issue of the vulnerability this far into the game of the internet that we created in this country? The internet, email, all of that, why are we so vulnerable, and when we find problems, like somebody giving their password as “password,” which has actually happened and is ridiculous, right?

JUAN WILLIAMS: That’s ridiculous.

FAULKNER: I mean, how do you, forgive me for saying it, but how could you be stupid for this long? [Fox News, Outnumbered, 1/6/17]

Fox Host Tucker Carlson: “Nobody Hacked Into Anything” Because Podesta’s Assistant Gave Up Email Password. Fox host Tucker Carlson claimed during an interview on Fox & Friends, that the idea Russians hacked the election was wrong because “nobody hacked into anything.” Instead, Carlson said, “somebody out there convinced John Podesta's assistant to give up his email password and mayhem ensued”:

TUCKER CARLSON: Look, nobody hacked into anything. Somebody out there convinced John Podesta's assistant to give up his email password and mayhem ensued and we got a lot of information we wouldn't have otherwise. I don't think it is a good thing. I don't want my email broken into. But that’s not the same as hacking the election. So nobody broke into the voting machines. That is the implication of charges and it is wrong and destabilizes the country in that it undermines people’s confidence in the election process. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/6/17]

Fox Business Host Dagen McDowell: “Even An Inexperienced Hacker Could Have Gotten Access” To Podesta’s Emails. Fox Business host Dagen McDowell told guest Herman Cain that “passwords and schedules flowed freely” over Hillary Clinton’s private email server and affirmed WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange’s claim that “even an inexperienced hacker could have gotten access”:

DAGEN MCDOWELL: I want to move on to this story. Hillary Clinton's emails back in the spotlight. A new batch of messages released by the State Department shows that passwords and schedules flowed freely over her homebrewed server. This supporting claims Julian Assange during his interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, saying even an inexperienced hacker could have gotten access. [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 1/6/17]

Fox’s Jesse Watters: Russian Access To Podesta’s Emails Was “Not A Hack, He’s Just Dumb” For Making His Password “Password.” Fox’s Jesse Watters told co-hosts of The Five that Podesta gave up his password to “the guy that tried to hack him.” The panel of hosts responded to Watters by parroting the false story that Podesta’s “password was ‘password’”:

JESSE WATTERS (CO-HOST): Podesta gave the email and the password to the guy that tried to hack him. That’s not a hack, he’s just dumb.


DANA PERINO (CO-HOST): The password was “password.”

WATTERS: Yeah, the password was password, I don’t get it. [Fox News, The Five, 1/5/17]

Fox Business Host David Asman: Democrats “Asked For It” By “Giving Passwords Like ‘Password.’” Fox Business host David Asman told his panel that officials “have to lock the doors” and that Democrats “asked for” the Russians to hack their information “giving passwords like ‘password’”:

DAVID ASMAN: Which is why,you have to lock the doors, unlike John Podesta and Hillary Clinton. They were -- they asked for it. I mean, they were making it easy giving passwords like “Password.” [Fox Business, After the Bell, 1/5/17]

Fact Check: Podesta’s Password Could Not Have Been “Password”

Politifact: “No Material Evidence” Supports Claim That Podesta’s Email Password Was “Password.” Politifact examined the claim that Podesta’s email password was “password” after Fox host Jesse Watters repeated the claim on Fox News. Politifact found that there was “no material evidence” to confirm the claim, noting that Google “doesn’t even allow Gmail users to make their password ‘password’”:

None of the emails published on WikiLeaks show Podesta’s email password. And of the cyber analysts examining the phishing emails used to infiltrate Podesta’s and others’ accounts, none have made similar claims.


There is no material evidence to back up this claim. Google doesn’t even allow Gmail users to make their password “password.”

We know from the stolen Podesta emails published on WikiLeaks that he used a Windows 8 login that had the password “p@ssw0rd.” But that’s not for his email account. [, 1/6/17]