Fox News Trades Insults With New York Times Over Coverage Of Botched Plot To Kill ISIS Leader

Associated Press

After taking a brief break in their respective corners to mop away the sweat, Fox News Channel and The New York Times tonight began another round of Competitive Insult Trading.

Fox took tonight’s first swing:

“Neither Fox News’ report nor the subsequent on-air coverage was inaccurate. We find it beyond disappointing that the New York Times…decided to blame Fox News for comments made publicly by General Tony Thomas during a widely viewed panel at the Aspen Security Forum. It might behoove the Times to actually check in with their reporter Eric Schmitt to see whether Gen. Thomas’ comments have merit and whether Schmitt’s reporting in 2015 revealed intelligence that allowed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to slip away.”

The battle between these two media titans erupted Saturday over a report on Fox & Friends about a 2015 New York Times report. As with so many media storms that include the words Fox & Friends, this kerfuffle broke out when a Saturday morning President Donald Trump Twittergasm included a blast against the Times for scuttling a plan to kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Trump’s Twitter account and Fox & Friends being joined at the mouth, other media outlets figured out pretty quick Trump was working hand-in-hand with the F&F segment, clearly chyron-ed “NYT FOILS U.S. ATTEMPT TO  TAKE OUT Al-BAGHDADI:”

Their mutual outrage stemmed from a crack made by Gen. Tony Thomas, the head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, at the Aspen Security Forum, in which he blamed the ISIS leader’s escape on a media report that appeared to be a reference to NYT article dated June 8, 2015.

The New York Times demanded Fox & Friends apologize for what a rep called the “malicious and inaccurate segment” in which Fox & Friends, with its usual flair, called NYT “failing” –  and “unpatriotic.”

Fox & Friends that morning reported “al-Baghdadi was able to sneak away under the cover of darkness after a New York Times story” and that the U.S. government “would have had al-Baghdadi based on the intelligence that we had except someone leaked information to the failing New York Times.”

Except, the NYT noted, the raid against Abu Sayyaf occurred on May 16, 2015, and was announced that day in an official statement by Defense Secretary Ash Carter, which is excerpted:

“Last night, at the direction of the Commander in Chief, I ordered U.S. Special Operations Forces to conduct an operation in al-Amr in eastern Syria to capture an ISIL senior leader known as Abu Sayyaf and his wife Umm Sayyaf. Abu Sayyaf was involved in ISIL’s military operations and helped direct the terrorist organization’s illicit oil, gas, and financial operations as well. Abu Sayyaf was killed during the course of the operation when he engaged U.S. forces.

U.S. forces captured Umm Sayyaf, who we suspect is a member of ISIL, played an important role in ISIL’s terrorist activities, and may have been complicit in what appears to have been the enslavement of a young Yezidi woman rescued last night.”

If the U.S. government wanted to keep the detention and likely interrogation of the wife secret, the Pentagon would not have publicly announced it, NYT said. Its report was published more than three weeks after the raid, and described the report to the Pentagon – which “had no objection”– before publication. “No senior American official complained about the story until now, more than two years later,” NYT‘s rep noted.

Fox News’ segment and online report having been based on a “misleading assertion by Gen. Thomas speaking at a conference in Aspen” does “not alleviate Fox News of the obligation to seek information from all the stakeholders in a story,” the publication scoffed. “With this segment, Fox & Friends demonstrated what little regard it has for reporting facts.”

Fox News “updated” its reports on Monday’s Fox & Friends, and online, while firing back that “for all of their concern about accuracy, the New York Times didn’t reach out to anyone at Fox News until Sunday afternoon for a story that ran Friday night,” though that shot seemed to miss the mark.

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