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Saturday, August 26, 2023

Pentagon protested false Fox News report about fallen Marine, emails show - The Washington Post (Fox News The Network For The Clueless)

Pentagon protested false Fox News report about fallen Marine, emails show

"The network quietly removed the story based on false claims from a congressman but did not apologize or run a correction

Signs outside News Corporation headquarters in New York, the home of Fox News. (Richard Drew/AP)

The U.S. Marine Corps went up to the highest levels of Fox News last month to challenge a story that falsely claimed a fallen Marine’s family had to cover the cost of transporting her remains, emails obtained by The Washington Post show.

Fox quietly amended the digital story and then removed it from its website following more complaints from the Marines but still has not apologized or corrected the erroneous report, which had been based on a false claim quickly retracted by a congressman.

The Marines’ communications with Fox were first reported by, which obtained the emails this week under a Freedom of Information Act request.

The July 25 story relied on an account from freshman Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.), who stated that the family of Sgt. Nicole L. Gee had shouldered “a heavy financial burden” of $60,000 to retrieve her body from Afghanistan. Gee, 23, was one of 13 U.S. service members killed in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport in the frantic final days of the U.S. withdrawal.

The story’s reporter, Michael Lee, quoted Mills calling the family’s supposed expenditures an “egregious injustice.” Neither Pentagon officials nor Gee’s family were quoted in the original story.

Marine Corps officials say the family did not face any financial burdens to have Gee’s body shipped to Arlington National Cemetery. They disputed the story in a series of emails to Fox executives — including Fox News president and executive editor Jay Wallace and editor in chief Porter Berry — shortly after the story was published.

“The allegations originally published turned out to be false, which I suspect Mr. Lee knew in the first place, and was the reason he did not seek comment from the Marine Corps,” wrote Marine Corps spokesman Maj. James Stenger in an email to the Fox executives.

Two days after his original comments to Fox, Mills walked back his claims in a statement in which he seemed to blame the Pentagon and the Gee family for being “in their time of grief, confused” about the costs associated with the transportation of Sgt. Gee’s remains. He said the Department of Defense “was able to provide clarification” about the matter.

Fox News and its reporter did not reply to multiple requests for comment. Lee also did not reply. Stenger declined to comment.

After Stenger’s first email, Fox added a statement from the Marines to the story and changed its headline. The original headline read: “Family forced to pay to ship body of Marine killed after Pentagon policy change; ‘Egregious injustice.’” The new version said: “Family shouldered burden to transport body of Marine killed in Afghanistan, GOP Rep says.”

Fox gave no indication that it had amended the article, a common practice for news organizations.

Stenger emailed executives again to say that the new headline and story were still false. “Using the grief of a family member of a fallen Marine to score cheap clickbait points is disgusting,” he wrote.

Fox then removed the story from its website altogether, ignoring Stenger’s request for a correction, retraction or an apology to Gee’s family.

In 2017, Fox News removed a story that suggested a link between the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails and the murder of Seth Rich, a young contractor who had worked there — a conspiracy theory heavily promoted on-air by Fox personalities but later debunked by a special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The network replaced the Rich story a week after publication with a statement conceding that the story “was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require” and said it would investigate and “provide updates as warranted.”

District police have said Seth Rich’s still-unsolved murder appeared to be a result of a botched robbery. In 2020, Fox settled a lawsuit filed by Rich’s parents on undisclosed terms. But it never published further explanation about the retracted story."

Pentagon protested false Fox News report about fallen Marine, emails show - The Washington Post

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