11 Days Later, Fox News Retracts Story On Phony ‘Navy SEAL’

Fox News on Thursday retracted a story about a man claiming to have been a Navy SEAL and veteran of the Vietnam War — claims which were proven to be false.

On Oct. 8, Fox News aired a story about John Garofalo, a glass artist and supposedly decorated retired Navy SEAL who’d created a giant presidential seal made of glass as a gift to President Donald Trump, according to the Washington Post, who flagged the story Friday morning.

“Garofalo is used to working under pressure,” Fox News’ Bryan Llenas had said in a voice over in the original segment. “The Vietnam War veteran served seven years as a member of the nation’s first Navy SEAL team. He was awarded 22 commendations, including two Purple Hearts.”

He called Garofalo a hero in an interview.

“I don’t like to hear that,” Garofalo responded, wiping tears from his eyes. “Heroes are the ones that didn’t come home.”

The retraction came 11 days later.

“Garofalo claimed he was a Vietnam veteran, a member of the first U.S. Navy SEAL team, and a decorated war hero who was awarded two Purple Hearts,” the network said in a post on its website. “Unfortunately, all of Garofalo’s claims turned out to be untrue.”

Llenas addressed his story’s inaccuracies on air Friday:

According to Navy Times, Fox News’ video had been viewed more than 1.5 million times by Thursday. It has since appeared to have been removed.

Viewers took note immediately, according to Navy Times: Don Shipley, a retired SEAL himself who has experience revealing cases of stolen valor, told the publication that he notified the Fox News reporter the day after the story ran about Garofalo’s phony claims. He posted a short video on Oct. 9 saying Garofalo was “a total phony.”

Garofalo is a veteran of the Navy, but he did not serve in Vietnam, nor is not a retired SEAL.

“It got bigger and bigger,” Garofalo told Navy Times. “What I did I‘m ashamed of, and I didn’t mean to cause so much disgrace to the SEALs.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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