NYT To Fox: Apologize For Reporting Our Story Fumbled Capture Of ISIS Leader

A New York Times spokesperson reached out to producers for the Fox News show “Fox and Friends” Sunday, asking the network to apologize on-air and retract a story that claimed that a Times story fumbled plans for the U.S. to capture an ISIS leader in 2015.

On Sunday, Fox News updated its online story — which published Friday — with the New York Times letter and has since released a statement saying the New York Times did not reach out to Fox until Sunday afternoon.

“The FoxNews.com story was already updated online yesterday and Fox & Friends provided an updated story to viewers this morning based on the FoxNews.com report. For all of their hyperventilating to the media about a correction, the New York Times didn’t reach out to anyone at Fox News until Sunday afternoon for a story that ran Friday night.”

The original “Fox and Friends” segment aired early Saturday and may have been the story that led the President to tweet later Saturday saying the newspaper values “their sick agenda over National Security.”

Times Vice President of Communications Danielle Rhoades Ha sent the letter to Fox producers on Sunday asking for an apology for the “malicious and inaccurate segment” and saying that no one at Fox made any attempt to “confirm relevant facts, nor did they reach out to The New York Times for comment.”

The online story and “Fox and Friends” segment were based on comments Gen. Tony Thomas, who leads the U.S. special operations command, made to Fox at the Apsen Security Forum. Thomas told Fox that the U.S. was close to capturing ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi until a lead about the capture was published in a “prominent national newspaper,” which caused the lead to go dead, he told Fox. Thomas has previously said it was a Times article that he believed kept the U.S. from capturing Baghdadi, according to The Washington Post. 

However, Rhodes Ha said the Times story was based on a statement from the Pentagon that detailed a May 16 raid that allowed the U.S. to capture an ISIL senior leader and his wife, who shared information with U.S. officials about Baghdadi’s whereabouts. She said Baghdadi would have known about the capture from the Pentagon’s announcement, not the Times story that ran three weeks after the raid.

“Furthermore, The Times described the piece to the Pentagon before publication and they had no objections. No senior American official complained publicly about the story until now, more than two years later,” she wrote. “With this segment, ‘Fox and Friends’ demonstrated what little regard it has for reporting facts.”

On “Fox and Friends” Monday morning Steve Doocy revisited the story, playing the clip of Thomas’ comments and explaining the response the story had received from the New York Times.

An unnamed source at Fox told TPM that the network questions whether the Times was as concerned about accuracy as it is about gaining media attention, pointing to the fact that the retraction letter wasn’t sent until Sunday afternoon.

“If we decided to notify the press every time the Times had to correct a story, frankly, your inbox would crash,” the source said.

Watch Monday’s “Fox and Friends” update on the topic below:

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