Trump calls on Fox News to fire reporter who confirmed some parts of Atlantic story

Jason Kander, a former US Army Captain and Biden campaign surrogate, reacts to a report in The Atlantic magazine in which multiple first-hand anonymous sources said President Trump denigrated US service members. Trump has denied the accusations. CNN has not independently verified the reporting.

Posted: Sep 5, 2020 2:40 PM
Updated: Sep 5, 2020 2:40 PM

For years, Fox News has worked to undermine and discredit the work of other news organizations that have reported damning details about President Trump and his administration. But on Friday, something unusual happened: The network turned a skeptical eye toward reporting from its own correspondent.

After spending much of the day bashing The Atlantic for Jeffrey Goldberg's jarring report which said Trump had disparaged military members who died in service to the country, Fox News itself confirmed key aspects of it. In a lengthy Twitter thread, correspondent Jennifer Griffin said she had confirmed Trump disparaged veterans; didn't want to honor the dead at the Aisne-Marne Cemetery; and did not want to lower flags after the death of John McCain.

An actual news organization would aggressively tout that it had matched much of the reporting at the center of the biggest news story of the day — especially given that Fox rarely delivers on original reporting of its own. And it would have mattered because Fox viewers are so often shielded from the truth. But Fox didn't proudly hold up Griffin's reporting. Instead, it acted as if it were ashamed and inconvenienced by it.

"Hoax"

Griffin delivered her report in the 3pm hour. But during "The Five," pro-Trump hosts Jesse Watters and Greg Gutfeld moved to discredit The Atlantic's reporting — the same reporting that Griffin had confirmed key aspects of. Gutfeld called it a "hoax" and said "there are no sources" and that it had "already been debunked."

Quite the opposite, Gutfeld, your own network had just confirmed it!

"FAKE NEWS"

Alright, let's put Gutfeld in with his fellow pro-Trump propagandists. Surely Fox's "straight news" anchors — the ones who are marketed as delivering hard-hitting news — forcefully showcased their colleague's reporting? Surely the network didn't bend the news toward Trump, given that its own reporting indicated he actually disparaged the military members?

Nope, not the case.

Bret Baier, Fox News' chief political news anchor, aired a segment in which he ran this chyron on the lower-thirds of the screen: "'FAKE NEWS': TRUMP DENIES STORY HE CALLED DEAD TROOPS 'LOSERS.'" Baier let John Roberts, who had relied on anonymous sources to try to pour cold water on The Atlantic's article earlier in the day, deliver a report casting doubt on it. And then he presented Griffin's reporting. Apparently unable to tell viewers whether Griffin's reporting was accurate, Baier concluded the segment by saying, "Thought we'd lay all of that out for you to make a decision."

Later in the hour, the show ran another chyron, this time with a notable omission: "QUESTIONABLE COMMENTS: ATLANTIC STORY ALLEGES TRUMP REMARKS ON SERVICE MEMBERS." Why not note Fox had reporting indicating this as well?

"It just comes down to a he-said, she said"

Things didn't improve when anchor Jon Scott, filling in for Martha MacCallum, covered the story in the 7pm hour. Scott interviewed Pete Buttigieg and repeatedly aimed at casting doubt on The Atlantic's reporting. Scott emphasized the denials from Trump flacks and claimed to Buttigieg, "It just comes down to a he-said, she said."

Perhaps you want to give Scott the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was just playing Devil's advocate as a journalist? You would have maybe been able to make that argument, but later in the hour, when Trump communications director Tim Murtaugh appeared on the program and bashed The Atlantic's reporting as "fake," Scott stood idly by and didn't challenge him. It was stunning to watch: the Fox News anchor pushed back on a guest making arguments aligned with his network's own reporting, then let another guest trash that reporting without challenging him at all.

"Trump denies..."

Instead of leading its homepage with Griffin's reporting, which confirmed many of the key aspects of The Atlantic's reporting, what did the network do? It led with Trump's denial. The splash headline quoted Trump saying, "IT'S A HOAX." And the main headline read, "Trump denies Atlantic report he belittled military in canceled trip amid conflicting accounts."

Jon Passantino, who now works at CNN, tweeted: "I used to manage the Fox News dot com homepage. This would be an extraordinary and unusual decision to run this denial as the top story despite having confirmed key details of the reporting..."

Trump calls for Griffin's firing

In a late-night Friday tweet, Trump attacked Griffin and claimed her reporting had been "refuted by many witnesses." The President then went further, saying, "Jennifer Griffin should be fired for this kind of reporting." He added that he believed Fox News is "gone."

Why Fox does what it does

Brian Stelter writes: "From the reporting in my new book 'HOAX,' I think this passage from Page 18 is most applicable to Friday's news. I wrote that anchors and commentators felt 'excruciating pressure to please the Fox base -- and avoid their wrath.' This pressure comes, in part, from the daily ratings reports... The Nielsens are like 'an invisible hand,' one Fox veteran said, pushing everyone in a rightward direction. So banners and segments and bookings are all influenced by the fear that viewers will turn the TV off..."

About the word "Hoax"

Brian Stelter writes: "Trump said the word 'hoax' five times in 15 seconds at Friday's press briefing. He said Goldberg's story was a 'hoax' just like 'Russia-Russia-Russia was a hoax.' By doing so, he basically explained the title of my aforementioned book. At this point, his copious claims about hoaxes add up to... a hoax! He has been using the word more and more, every year, accusing his opponents of malice. The word is a building block in his permanent campaign of disbelief, as I wrote in this NYT op-ed..."

"Hoax is a potent word, in being an angry and mean one," the linguist John McWhorter told Stelter. It "carries an air of accusation, of transgression." McWhorter called it "the quintessence of Trumpian self-expression..."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 728811

Reported Deaths: 13405
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion996911740
Lake53548966
Allen40529675
St. Joseph35596550
Hamilton35536408
Elkhart28470441
Tippecanoe22375218
Vanderburgh22293396
Porter18701307
Johnson17923378
Hendricks17199315
Clark12943191
Madison12612339
Vigo12437246
Monroe11873170
LaPorte11856210
Delaware10667186
Howard9895216
Kosciusko9390117
Hancock8260140
Bartholomew8058155
Warrick7777155
Floyd7653178
Wayne7035199
Grant7032174
Boone6687101
Morgan6557139
Dubois6150117
Marshall6016111
Dearborn580077
Cass5794105
Henry5699103
Noble559883
Jackson501172
Shelby490696
Lawrence4522120
Harrison435072
Gibson434792
DeKalb427185
Clinton427053
Montgomery423688
Whitley395239
Huntington390080
Steuben385557
Miami381166
Knox371890
Jasper364747
Putnam359660
Wabash353479
Adams341054
Ripley339170
Jefferson329281
White313554
Daviess296299
Wells291381
Decatur284792
Fayette279562
Greene277885
Posey271333
Scott265653
LaGrange265570
Clay259447
Washington240332
Randolph239781
Spencer232131
Jennings229849
Starke215953
Fountain212046
Sullivan211442
Owen198756
Fulton194840
Jay193630
Carroll188520
Orange182654
Perry182637
Rush173025
Vermillion168843
Franklin167835
Tipton162845
Parke146116
Blackford134632
Pike133734
Pulaski116645
Newton107734
Brown101941
Crawford99514
Benton98514
Martin88615
Warren81815
Switzerland7858
Union71010
Ohio56511
Unassigned0414

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1082815

Reported Deaths: 19428
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1258081400
Cuyahoga1119722115
Hamilton799721205
Montgomery514061014
Summit47145945
Lucas42119788
Butler38338584
Stark32273906
Lorain24997481
Warren24274298
Mahoning21546588
Lake20653369
Clermont19761238
Delaware18512133
Licking16418212
Fairfield16176199
Trumbull16032468
Medina15268264
Greene15063244
Clark13983299
Wood13080189
Portage12839203
Allen11639232
Richland11349199
Miami10670217
Muskingum8803133
Wayne8793211
Columbiana8778229
Pickaway8564121
Marion8523135
Tuscarawas8473244
Erie7888154
Hancock6914127
Ross6846155
Ashtabula6805170
Geauga6686148
Scioto6406101
Belmont5881167
Union570848
Lawrence5549102
Jefferson5525151
Huron5430119
Darke5355123
Sandusky5347120
Seneca5282121
Athens519158
Washington5155109
Auglaize490784
Mercer480385
Shelby469293
Knox4486110
Madison435661
Putnam4278100
Fulton422469
Ashland421789
Defiance419697
Crawford3975107
Brown394157
Logan381676
Preble379598
Clinton372163
Ottawa366679
Highland355062
Williams339275
Champaign331658
Guernsey315653
Jackson312551
Perry294950
Morrow284939
Fayette281950
Hardin270864
Henry268666
Coshocton265257
Holmes2603101
Van Wert243463
Adams237852
Pike237634
Gallia235349
Wyandot231055
Hocking215362
Carroll191547
Paulding172640
Meigs144840
Noble133337
Monroe132042
Morgan108423
Harrison108137
Vinton83115
Unassigned02
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
38° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 28°
Angola
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 26°
Huntington
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 32°
Decatur
Cloudy
38° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 28°
Van Wert
Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 34°
Rain moves in overnight into Sunday morning and looks to hang around much of the day, likely forcing Mother's Day plans indoors
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events