The New York Times wants an apology from Fox News. In an unusual letter sent on Sunday afternoon, the paper is calling on its competitor to apologize for a report that aired on Fox & Friends that said the Times was to blame for the 2015 escape of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The report appears to have inspired President Donald Trump to write a tweet criticizing the newspaper on Saturday morning: “The Failing New York Times foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist, al-Baghdadi.” The Fox and Friends segment aired around 25 minutes before Trump sent out the tweet.
The Failing New York Times foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist,Al-Baghdadi.Their sick agenda over National Security— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017
“I am writing on behalf of The New York Times to request an on-air apology and tweet from Fox & Friends in regards to a malicious and inaccurate segment ‘NY Times leak allowed ISIS leader to slip away’,” wrote Danielle Rhoades Ha, vice president of communications for the New York Times. "Neither the staff at Fox & Friends, nor the writers of a related story on Foxnews.com, appeared to make any attempt to confirm relevant facts, nor did they reach out to The New York Times for comment."
Fox pushed back against the Times criticism, saying it took the paper almost 48 hours to raise a complaint. "The FoxNews.com story was already updated online and Fox & Friends will also provide an updated story to viewers tomorrow morning based on the FoxNews.com report," a Fox News spokesperson said in a statement. "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."
New York Times has asked fox and friends for an apology pic.twitter.com/QIoqXnqwmK— Hadas Gold (@Hadas_Gold) July 23, 2017
The Fox report was partly based on comments by Gen. Tony Thomas, the head of the United States Special Operations Command, who said in an interview that a valuable lead on Baghdadi’s location “was leaked in a prominent national newspaper about a week later and that lead went dead.” The general never mentioned the Times but Fox said he was referring to a June 2015 story that reported U.S. intelligence agencies obtained “valuable information” from a raid in Syria.
In a detailed breakdown of how “Trump got it wrong” in his tweet, the Times notes the Pentagon itself had made the information available in a news release that was issued three weeks before the Times article. “No senior American official complained publicly about the story until now, more than two years later,” the Times letter to Fox said. The paper said it is seeking clarification from the White House about the president’s tweet, but in the meantime it is calling on Fox to apologize. Even though the piece was based on a “misleading assertion by Gen. Thomas … that does not alleviate Fox News of the obligation to seek information from all the stakeholders in a story.” By moving forward with the piece, “Fox & Friends demonstrated what little regard it has for reporting facts.”
*This piece has been updated with new information since it was first published.