Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs, who is prone to peddling conspiracy theories and is a prominent supporter of President Trump, asserted without evidence on Thursday that it was "fake news" that bombs were mailed this week to high-profile Democrats and the New York City offices of CNN.
"Fake bombs," Dobbs wrote in a tweet posted to his verified account Thursday morning. "Who could possibly benefit by so much fakery?"
Dobbs deleted his tweet after immediate and widespread condemnation. Authorities have said that the bombs found in the packages were rudimentary, but functional.
After Dobbs deleted the tweet, he posted a second tweet which carried the same suggestion.
In the second tweet, Dobbs wrote that "Fake News had just successfully changed the narrative from the onslaught of illegal immigrants and broken border security to 'suspicious packages.'"
Dobbs later deleted that tweet as well.
Several employees at Fox News, the sister channel to the Fox Business Network, expressed dismay about Dobbs' tweets. One senior Fox News employee told CNN Business, "It's people like Dobbs who really ruin it for all the hard working journalists at Fox."
It was not clear if Dobbs would face any disciplinary action for his tweets, and spokespeople for the network declined to say whether they violated the standards of the Fox Business Network.
A Fox Business Network spokesperson would only say in an e-mail that Dobbs "clarified his sentiment" in a new tweet posted to his account. In that tweet, Dobbs wrote,"On Lou Dobbs Tonight I'll take up why FBI and ATF hasn't informed the public about contents of 'suspicoius packages': whether hoax or bombs, they were clearly designed to influence election. Why?"
It was not clear what exactly Dobbs clarified in that tweet, and the Fox Business Network spokesperson did not respond to a request to elaborate on the mater.
On his program Thursday evening, Dobbs said he wanted to discuss the matter "in more than 280 characters." Dobbs didn't apologize, but instead assailed the "national left wing media" for "calling the suspicious packages 'bombs."
"Neither the FBI nor the ATF agencies have said that these are bombs," Dobbs said. "Not definitively. Not yet."
But Bryan Paarmann, FBI special agent in charge of the counterterrorism division in New York, has said the devices "appear to be pipe bombs." And, as CNN has reported, an initial examination shows they were rudimentary, but functional. At least one contained projectiles, a law enforcement official told CNN.
A wave of suspicious packages have been mailed to high-profile Democrats and figures who have criticized Trump. Among the individuals targeted were former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, billionaire liberal philanthropist George Soros, and others. Another device, addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, was also mailed to CNN's New York City office.
Dobbs appeared to suggest in his unsubstantiated tweets that the packages were part of a supposed "false flag" operation, a crime committed by one party that is disguised to give the impression that it was committed by another group.
That theory, which was not supported by any real evidence, was prominent on the fringes of the right on Wednesday. High-profile conservative figures, including talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, suggested the culprit was a "Democrat operative" aiming to portray Republicans in the worst possible light ahead of the midterm elections.
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