On Monday morning, Fox & Friends news anchor and former CSN Philly host Jillian Mele reported on a new “bombshell” originating from The Hill news site that former FBI Director James Comey’s personal memos detailing meetings with President Donald Trump contained “top secret information.”
Report accuses material James Comey leaked to a friend contained top secret information pic.twitter.com/Hkg4cAb6o9
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) July 10, 2017
Trump, who regularly watches Fox & Friends (sometimes four hours after it airs), saw the report and quickly re-tweeted it to his nearly 34 million followers. He commented on the report in a subsequent tweet, accusing Comey of breaking the law.
James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2017
There’s just one problem — the report wasn’t true.
The Hill’s John Solomon reported that “more than half” of Comey’s memos contained classified information, but at no point does the report claim that the any of the specific memos he leaked through a friend to the New York Times were classified.
The Hill’s report also stated some of the memos “contained information classified at the ‘secret’ or ‘confidential’ level,” but did not state the information was “top secret,” as Mele reported.
On Tuesday morning, 24 hours after the incorrect report fueled a days worth of incorrect discussion about Comey’s memos, Fox & Frends co-host Steve Doocy issued an on-air statement that the show was “mistaken.”
“Yesterday on this program we aired and tweeted this story saying former FBI director James Comey leaked memos containing top secret information,” Doocy said. “We were mistaken, in that according to the report half of the information in the report clarified secret or classified level, not top secret.
“Documents in which Mr. Comey leaked are at this point unclear,” Doocy added. “Just wanted to straighten that out.”
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) July 11, 2017
The video of Doocy’s statment hasn’t been shared on the show’s own Twitter account, but late Monday evening Fox & Friends did tweet out the following correction:
Correction: Comey's memos did not have top secret info. The report says half were classified at secret or confidential level, not top secret
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) July 11, 2017
The tweet about the report remains on the president’s Twitter account, as does his accusation that Comey broke the law. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether the president plans on clarifying or correcting his comments. The incorrect report didn’t deter President Trump from re-tweeting three separate video segments from Fox & Friends Tuesday morning.
“I’m just looking at the president’s Twitter feed,” Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough quipped Tuesday morning. “He has become social media director for Fox & Friends.”
Last month, Fox & Friends weekend host and former Fox 29 anchor Clayton Morris was forced to issue an on-air statement that he and his co-hosts thought the idea suggested by two guests that setting up internment camps in England as a solution to terror attacks was “reprehensible.”
“I think all of us here find that idea reprehensible here at Fox News channel,” Morris said, which became noteworthy because of Trump’s devotion to the show and his frequent willingness to share clips and segments.
The Fox & Friends clarification comes on the heels of high-profile retractions by both CNN and Fox News, both involving stories that were posted and subsequently removed from their respective websites.
At CNN, three journalists resigned after a report involving the head of a Russian investment fund meeting with Anthony Scaramucci, an adviser to Trump during the presidential campaign, was removed from CNN’s website because it “did not meet CNN’s editorial standards.”
At Fox News, the network removed a story about the death of former DNC staffer Seth Rich that fueled conspiracy theories about his murder. The network said the story wasn’t subjected to the “high degree of editorial scrutiny” the network requires for its reporting.