July 24, 2017 1:17 pm
Updated: July 24, 2017 1:24 pm

Why The New York Times is feuding with Fox News over a ‘malicious’ TV segment

The sun peeks over the New York Times Building in New York, U.S., on August 14, 2013.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

The New York Times is demanding an on-air apology from Fox News over a weekend report that claimed the newspaper foiled an attempt by the U.S. military to kill Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The newspaper has claimed that the report is both “malicious and inaccurate.” Meanwhile, Fox News accused The Times of “hyperventilating” about the story.

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Here’s what the dispute is about:

What Fox News reported

A segment titled “US General: NY Times leak allowed ISIS leader to slip away,” which aired on “Fox & Friends” Saturday, claimed that the newspaper was to blame for Baghdadi’s 2015 escape.

U.S. Army Gen. Tony Thomas appeared on Fox News, saying that his team was “particularly close” to killing Baghdadi in 2015, but their lead “went dead” after a media leak.

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“Unfortunately, it was leaked in a prominent national newspaper about a week later and that lead went dead,” the general said. “There’s a great need to inform the American public about what we’re up to. There’s also great need to recognize things that will absolutely undercut our ability to do our job.”

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While Thomas did not name a media outlet, Fox News linked his remarks to a Times article published on June 8, 2015, titled “A raid on ISIS yields a trove of intelligence.” 

“Thomas appeared to be referring to a New York Times report in June 2015 that detailed how American intelligence agencies had ‘extracted valuable information.'” Fox News wrote on its website.

U.S. President Donald Trump reacts

The president chimed in after the segment aired Saturday, tweeting that The Times has a “sick agenda” over national security.

The New York Times speaks out after segment

Danielle Rhoades Ha, vice-president of communications for the newspaper, called the network’s report “malicious and inaccurate” on Sunday.

“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,'” she wrote.

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Rhoades Ha said Fox News didn’t reach out to the newspaper to verify facts or for comment.

The Times went on to claim that it disclosed the June 2015 article to the Pentagon before publication, and there was no objection. The newspaper detailed what happened in an article Sunday, titled “How Trump Got It Wrong in Saying The Times ‘Foiled’ Killing of ISIS Leader.”

Fox News updates story

Hours after The Times reacted to the story, Fox News updated its website reflecting the newspaper’s statement.

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It issued a statement slamming The New York Times for its delayed reaction: “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.”

On Monday morning, the TV network once again spoke about the issue, saying, “The Times described its 2015 reporting to the Pentagon before publication and they had no objections, and no senior American officials have ever complained publicly, until now.”

The clarification was not sufficient for Rhoades Ha, who said it “wasn’t an apology.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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