Leaked documents show Fox News believes its guests are blatantly promoting ‘disinformation’: report

Leaked documents show Fox News believes its guests are blatantly promoting ‘disinformation’: report
Image via Screengrab.

Throughout the Ukraine scandal and the impeachment of President Donald Trump, much of the commentary at Fox News went out of its way to be favorable to the president and unfavorable to Democrats (although Chris Wallace and legal analyst Andrew Napolitano were willing to offer some critical analysis and part company with their colleagues at times). This week, the Daily Beast has obtained a copy of an internal Fox News briefing book that shows serious doubts within the network about the credibility of guests who have discussed Ukraine with Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and other Trump sycophants at the right-wing cable news outlet.

The 162-page briefing book, according to Daily Beast reporters Will Sommer, Maxwell Tani and Andrew Kirell, is titled “Ukraine, Disinformation, & the Trump Administration” and was created by Fox News Senior Affairs Specialist Bryan S. Murphy. The book is highly critical of what Trump supporters ranging from Rudy Giuliani (Trump’s personal attorney) to attorneys Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova to Fox News contributor John Solomon have had to say about Ukraine.

Solomon, in the book, is accused of playing an “indispensable role” in a “disinformation campaign” with Ukraine — while Toensing and diGenova are accused of “spreading disinformation.” And the book alleges that Giuliani promoted disinformation in his effort to oust Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. During House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry last year, Yovanovitch testified that Giuliani pushed to have her removed from that position.

The research book, according to Beast reporters, “is especially critical of Solomon, a former opinion columnist at The Hill whose opinion pieces about Ukraine made unsubstantiated claims about its government interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Solomon’s pieces for The Hill fueled Giuliani’s efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine, which eventually, helped lead to President Donald Trump’s impeachment.”

Solomon, the Beast reporters point out, has often been featured on Hannity’s show and portrayed as a crusading investigative reporter. But the briefing book accuses Solomon of “non-disclosure of conflicts, use of unreliable sources, publishing false and misleading stories, misrepresentation of sources and opaque coordination with involved parties.”

Fox News, in a statement to AlterNet, quarreled with the Beast's framing of the documents, though it didn't contradict any of the reporting.

“The research division of FOX News produces a briefing book for all major stories, which serves as a standing collection of extensive data on major topics for internal use by all those in editorial functions," said Mitch Kweit, a senior vice president at the network. "The Ukraine briefing book is nothing more than a comprehensive chronological account of what every person involved in the Ukraine controversy was doing at any identifiable point in time, including tracking media appearances of major players who appeared on FOX News and in many other outlets. The 200 page document has thousands of data points and the vast majority have no relation to FOX News - instead it’s now being taken out of context and politicized to damage the network.”

This story has been updated to include a statement from Fox.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.