Fox News is aware that guests and contributors spread “disinformation” on Ukraine, according to an internal “briefing book.” The most high-profile offender? President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani. But Fox News claimed the document was being “taken out of context and politicized to damage the network.”
Obtained by Daily Beast, the document is also particularly harsh on former opinion columnist for The Hill, John Solomon—whose reporting for his prior outlet indirectly set the whole impeachment drama in motion—as well as the lawyer husband-wife duo of Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing—essentially casting severe doubts about the veracity of statements made by—and the reliability of—each of those on-air personalities.
Per that report:
The 162-page document, entitled “Ukraine, Disinformation, & the Trump Administration,” was created by Fox News senior political affairs specialist Bryan S. Murphy, who produces research from what is known as the network’s Brain Room—a newsroom division of researchers who provide information, data, and topic guides for the network’s programming.
The document’s existence was first made public by three-year Fox News veteran and former freelance producer Marcus DiPaola, who says he left the network under suspicious circumstances—after providing information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation—in January of last year:
Here’s the front page of the internal Fox News Trump-Ukraine timeline. I’ll start tweeting some of the highlights shortly. pic.twitter.com/HWGX5sZUh8
— Marcus J. DiPaola (@marcusdipaola) February 6, 2020
According to Murphy, Giuliani regularly exhibits a “high susceptibility to disinformation” initially provided by disgraced Ukrainian sources like corruption-plagued former Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko and billionaire Dmytro Firtash. The latter is under indictment in the U.S. for bribery, but hasn’t been extradited here. The intrigue on that front is worth learning more about.
Murphy’s research document is brutal in its estimation of Giuliani:
Reading the timeline in its entirety—not a small task—makes clear the extensive role played by Rudy Giuliani and his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, in spreading disinformation.
Also on the chopping block is network’s Sean Hannity, who is criticized in the context of a misleading on-air discussion with diGenova and Toensing. The segment in question had to do with a filing in Firtash’s legal case—but Hannity and his guests curiously omitted that diGenova and Toensing were part of Firtash’s legal team.
“At no time during the program does Hannity, Toensing, and diGenova mention who requested the statement nor do they discuss that they are Firtash’s attorneys,” Murphy’s document notes.
And, if things couldn’t get more embarrassing for the conservative network, the briefing book appeared to criticize Fox News itself—just not by name.
Per the report by Will Sommer, Maxwell Tani, Andrew Kirell and Justin Baragona, certain “US Media” outlets are regularly engaged in “amplification of disinformation stories from clearly unreliable sources and non-disclosure of conflicts by guests.”
Law&Crime reached out to Fox News for comment on this story—and to confirm the document’s existence. A representative responded by insisting that the following statement “be used in full.”
“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, Senior Vice President of the Brainroom. “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.”
Editor’s note: this story was updated post-publication to refer to the document in question as a “briefing book” in order to more accurately convey what it is and how one is used.
[image via Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]