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Fox News Already Reported Speculation That Libya Consulate Guards Turned On U.S. Personnel Four Years Ago
On the eve of the 2016 presidential election, Fox News pushed a report detailing the “explosive charge” that a security company hired to protect the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was staffed with locals that participated in the September 11, 2012, attack that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Fox actually reported identical speculation more than four years ago; their sources for the charge are an anonymous “independent security specialist, the co-author of a book that stated that there is “no evidence” the guards “were in league with the attackers,” and an organization filled with birthers and conspiracy theorists; and the network’s previous reporting about the security company featured noted fabulist Dylan Davies.
A week after the September 11, 2012, attack, Fox correspondent Ed Henry reported that “there are reports that security guards” hired by the British security contracting firm Blue Mountain Group “ “turned on the ambassador and that led to his death.” From a Nexis transcript of the September 18, 2012, edition of Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier (subscription required):
HENRY: Today, [State Department spokesperson Victoria] Nuland clarified the administration had, in fact, hired a private security company, Blue Mountain Group, to work inside the perimeter.
NULAND: They were hired to provide local Libyan guards who operated inside the gate doing things like operating the security access equipment, screening the cars.
HENRY (on-camera): Significant, because there are reports that those Libyan security guards turned on the ambassador and that led to his death. Now, late today, Secretary Hillary Clinton said there was no actionable intelligence about an imminent attack in Libya. The keyword being actionable there.
Tonight, a FoxNews.com report by Malia Zimmerman and Adam Housley called similar reports an “explosive charge,” and presented them as completely new information:
An obscure private firm hired by the State Department over internal objections to protect U.S. diplomats in Benghazi just months before the American ambassador and three others were killed was staffed with hastily recruited locals with terror ties who helped carry out the attack, multiple sources told Fox News.
The explosive charge against Wales-based Blue Mountain Group comes from several sources, including an independent security specialist who has implemented training programs at U.S. Consulates around the world, including in Benghazi, where he trained a local militia that preceded Blue Mountain. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Blue Mountain used local newspaper ads to assemble a team of 20 guards, many of
whom had terror ties, after securing a $9.2 million annual contract.
“The guards who were hired were locals who were part of the Ansar al-Sharia and Al Qaeda groups operating in Benghazi,” said the source, whose assignment in Benghazi had ended in November 2011. “Whoever approved contracts at the State Department hired Blue Mountain Group and then allowed Blue Mountain Group to hire local Libyans who were not vetted.”
John “Tig” Tiegen, one of the CIA contractors that responded to the Sept. 11, 2012 attack and co-author of “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi,” confirmed to Fox News that the local Libyans who attacked the consulate that night included guards working for Blue Mountain.
"Many of the local Libyans who attacked the consulate on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, were the actual guards that the State Department under Hillary Clinton hired to protect the Consulate in Benghazi,” Tiegen told Fox News. “The guards were unvetted and were locals with basically no background at all in providing security. Most of them never had held a job in security in the past.
“Blue Mountain Libya, at the time of being awarded the contract by our State Department, had no employees so they quickly had to find people to work, regardless of their backgrounds,” he said.
One former guard who witnessed the attack, Weeam Mohamed, confirmed in an email sent to the Citizens Commission on Benghazi and obtained by Fox News, that at least four of the guards hired by Blue Mountain took part in the attack after opening doors to allow their confederates in.
“In the U.S. Mission, there were four people [who] belonged to the battalion February 17,” Mohamed wrote to the Commission, an independent body formed with Accuracy in Media to investigate the attack and the administration's handling of it.
Fox’s sourcing for the story -- which would contradict several reports by congressional committees and a review by the State Department -- is extremely dubious. Their lead source is anonymous. Their second source, Tiegan, wrote in his bestseller 13 Hours that there was “no evidence” the guards helped the attackers. From 13 Hours (page 84-85):
Who opened the gate wasn’t clear, but responsibility for the entrance rested with the Blue Mountain Libya guards. By some accounts the armed invaders threatened the unarmed guards, who immediately acquiesced. A US government review raised the possibility that the “poorly skilled” local guards left the pedestrian gate open “after initially seeing the attackers and fleeing the vicinity.” No evidence has shown that the Blue Mountain guards were in league with the attackers, but maybe they were incompetent. As the report noted, “They had left the gate unlatched before.” Further complicating matters, the camera monitor in the guard booth at the front gate was broken, and new surveillance cameras.
The network’s third source comes by way of the Citizens Commission on Benghazi, which is staffed by multiple birthers, anti-Muslim activists, and conspiracy theorists who maintained that there was a Benghazi “cover-up.”
Fox previously relied upon Blue Mountain Group security contractor Dylan Davies for Benghazi reporting -- in fact, Housley himself acknowledged on-air that some of the network's 2012 Benghazi coverage had cited Davies, but they "stopped speaking to him when he asked for money." In 2013, CBS News retracted a report that featured Davies’ fabricated claims about having scaled a wall of the Benghazi diplomatic compound while it was under attack and striking a terrorist with his rifle.
It’s no surprise that Fox News, whose obsession with finding a way to turn the tragedy in Benghazi into political attacks on President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, would close the 2016 presidential campaign with a new Benghazi conspiracy.
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Fox News is falsely claiming that a Justice Department official shared “inside information” with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign to delegitimize the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server that found no grounds for prosecution. In fact, the information in question was publicly available.
Fox News chief national correspondent Ed Henry claimed that there is “a possible conflict of interest in the FBI probe” into Clinton’s server Assistant U.S. Attorney General Peter Kadzik emailed Clinton campaign manager John Podesta in May 2015 -- in a stolen email WikiLeaks recently released -- to share “inside information” that the head of the Civil Division of the Department of Justice would testify before a House Judiciary Committee meeting, potentially about Clinton’s emails. Henry claimed that Kadzik was “trying to hide” his “heads up” from “public record” by sending it from Kadzik’s private email address to Podesta’s private address. From the November 2 edition of Happening Now:
ED HENRY: You were just playing Donald Trump talking about Peter Kadzik. He's somebody who's the assistant attorney general -- big job at the Justice Department, overseeing congressional relations. He was part of informing Congress about the fact that this FBI probe was essentially back on, questions because of that dinner he had with John Podesta, the previous relationship representing him, and now WikiLeaks has a new email. This one as well from 2015, in which we see Kadzik giving what he called a “heads up” to John Podesta.
So, look, this was someone who had inside information about what was going on. He's giving the Clinton campaign a heads up about the State Department emails. And guess what? He did not send it on his Justice Department email. That would have been a public record. He sent it from his Gmail to John Podesta's Gmail; the only way we know is because of WikiLeaks. But they were trying to hide this, Heather.
But Henry’s suggestion of wrongdoing fails to note that information about the House hearing in question -- and all witnesses scheduled to testify, including the subject of Kadzik’s “heads up,” Benjamin Mizer of the Civil Division -- was publicly posted on House.gov, as the details about all public House hearings are. Bloomberg Politics’ Ben Brody noted that “Kadzik was alerting Podesta to public events” because “the Judiciary Committee held an open hearing that day, and a new filing in the court case” was made “a day earlier.”
This is not the first time that Fox News has sought to create a scandal based on communications from Kadzik; Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy pushed the false conservative claim that Kadzik was “overseeing” the FBI’s email review when in fact, his responsibility is communicating with Congress about the investigation when appropriate.
Fox News hyped the contents of stolen emails released by WikiLeaks that show members of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign team discussing pay disparities at the Clinton Foundation, saying it’s proof that the foundation was “not paying women equally” and asserting that it shows “hypocrisy” from Clinton, who has fought for equal pay. But Fox’s claim doesn’t hold up, as “the statistical pool is too limited” to draw any conclusions on equal pay, according to PolitiFact. Fox has a pattern of hyping deceptive and false attacks on Democrats’ records with gender pay disparities, while at the same time dismissing the larger problems around gender pay inequality.
Fox News is attempting to spin a stolen email from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta as proof Hillary Clinton and her 2008 presidential campaign “push[ed]” the narrative that then-Sen. Barack Obama is a Muslim and thus “started” the birther controversy. However, the email that the network is citing actually shows a Democratic super PAC, composed of allies of both Obama and Clinton, engaging in the normal practice of testing potential negative attacks “on BOTH Clinton and Obama in a hypothetical match-up against” 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain (R-AZ).
During the October 15 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Saturday, co-host Clayton Morris teased a segment that would supposedly reveal “the truth about the birther movement,” adding “wait until you hear who really started it.” Citing a hacked email from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta that was made public by WikiLeaks, Morris claimed the “bombshell” email shows “that Hillary was pushing the Muslim Obama narrative back in 2008.” Fox News correspondent Ed Henry noted Democratic strategist Paul Begala’s explanation that the correspondence was from a super PAC that was “testing out different narratives the Republicans were pushing” against both Democratic candidates, but added, “This is what their explanation is, to be fair. But they're still raising” the birther controversy.
Fox’s representation of the content of the email in question is misleading. The Fox hosts falsely claimed “Hillary was pushing” birther claims, but the email was not generated by the Clinton campaign. Instead, the email details proposed questions for a poll commissioned by an organization established to support the Democratic candidate for president in the general election engaging in the common practice of “testing your opponent’s attacks on you.”
The email was written by Kristi Fuska, an analyst with Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, regarding polling for a group called Progressive Media USA, which was composed of supporters of both Clinton and Obama. Tom Matzzie, an Obama supporter who received the email in question, said that the Democratic group was testing possible general election attacks from Republicans “on BOTH Clinton and Obama in a hypothetical match-up against McCain.” Matzzie also explained that “the research team that cooked up the Obama attacks eventually went on to work for the Obama campaign.”
Fox’s revisionist history regarding the birther controversy flies in the face of the network’s long history of enthusiastically echoing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s years-long, racist crusade to raise doubts about President Obama’s legitimacy, and ignores the fact that Fox provided Trump with a friendly platform to promote his birther beliefs for years.
This post has been edited for clarity.
Fox News is using five strategies to deflect criticism away from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump amid The New York Times’ release of portions of Trump’s tax returns. The network is hyping Trump’s claim that he can change the tax code because he knows it well, that most Americans do the same thing Trump did, that his tax avoidance shows how well his business career went, and that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton did the same thing. It’s also pivoting to criticize the Clinton Foundation.
Trump’s Damage Control After NY Times Tax Bombshell At Odds With His Own Tax Plan That Favors His Own Businesses
Following The New York Times’ report that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump may have been able to avoid federal income taxes for 18 years after declaring a $916 million loss in 1995 as his businesses collapsed, some pundits are adopting the Trump campaign’s spin that the story proves that Trump “knows the tax code far better than anyone … and he is the only one that knows how to fix it.” In fact, Trump’s tax plan “doesn’t just preserve those breaks, it piles on new ones for real estate developers like Mr. Trump himself,” according to The Washington Post. The proposal would deliver a massive tax cut to Trump’s own businesses while providing a multi-trillion dollar tax cut to the wealthiest Americans.
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Fox News is mischaracterizing remarks Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton made at a private fundraiser in February, falsely claiming that she was mocking Bernie Sanders’ supporters as “broke and delusional.” In the audio of the remarks, which security officials believe was originally hacked by Russian government operatives and then later posted by the Washington Free Beacon, Clinton is highlighting the “sense of disappointment among young people in politics” and why they were driven to support Sanders.
Conservative media claimed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was adopting rival Republican nominee Donald Trump’s stance on how to handle refugees and immigrants after she called for “tough vetting” following a series of recent terror attacks. However, Clinton has been consistent in calling for “rigorous” and “thorough” vetting, while also arguing that “we cannot allow terrorists to intimidate us into abandoning our values and our humanitarian obligations.”
Fox News promoted an anti-Hillary Clinton ad created by American Crossroads, a conservative Super PAC co-founded by Fox News contributor Karl Rove.
On the April 14 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle praised a new American Crossroads ad, comparing Hillary Clinton to Richard Nixon. After playing nearly the entire ad, Guilfoyle claimed the “dramatic attack ad” came from the “conservative Super PAC American Crossroads,” but did not disclose any other information about the group:
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE (CO-HOST): Sanders got some unsolicited help today from conservative Super PAC American Crossroads. They put out a dramatic attack ad, depicting his opponent as a modern day Richard Nixon.
ED HENRY: I think it is important that you mentioned the context of the general election in terms of that American Crossroads ad, that’s a conservative group who will undoubtedly be pounding Hillary Clinton if she is the Democratic nominee, talking about the e-mails. But that's a stark contrast to what we are likely to see tonight. Bernie Sanders said at the very beginning of the first debate, he was taking the e-mails off the table. Very few debate moderators have pressed Hillary Clinton over the course of the last several months on that issue. Although there was a little hint from the Sanders camp today that you had both of these candidates yesterday on the picket lines with striking Verizon workers in the New York City area and the Sanders camp was saying, wait a second. It turned out Hillary Clinton was with the workers yesterday. But back in 2013 she gave one of those big paid speeches, over $200,000 paid for by, yes, Verizon. So she was standing up to the company yesterday, on behalf of the workers, but it turns out a couple years ago, was making big money from the company.
Guilfoyle failed to disclose that American Crossroads was co-founded by Fox News political contributor Karl Rove. He joined the network in 2008, and helped create the Super PAC in 2010 where he still serves as an “informal adviser.”
Fox News has a history of failing to disclose the ties of its hosts and contributors. And during the September 21, 2014 edition of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace invited Karl Rove to discuss the 2014 midterm Senate races, without disclosing Rove's super PACs that poured millions into influencing the outcomes of the Senate races Rove was invited to discuss.
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Media figures are erroneously attributing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's narrow victory in the Iowa caucuses to her wins in coin tosses held at several precincts to determine the apportionment of unassigned delegates. Media figures claiming that coin tosses could have flipped the outcome misunderstand the caucus process by wrongly conflating county-level delegates -- which the coin tosses assign -- and state delegate equivalents (SDEs). As The Des Moines Register explained, the coin flips "had an extremely small effect on the overall outcome."