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Fox News And 'New York Times' Clash Over Paper's ISIS Reporting


Fox News and The New York Times are publicly clashing over claims the paper's coverage tipped off the leader of ISIS that the U.S. was hot on his trail. The Times called the segment on Fox malicious and asked for an on-air apology but didn't get much satisfaction. Here's NPR's David Folkenflik.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: On Friday evening, General Tony Thomas, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, spoke about a 2015 raid on ISIS and what American forces learned about the location of the ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.


TONY THOMAS: It was a very good lead. Unfortunately, it was leaked in a prominent national newspaper about a week later that that lead went dead.

FOLKENFLIK: Thomas was being interviewed by a Fox reporter at an Aspen Institute event.


THOMAS: There's a great need to inform the American public about what we're up to. There's also a great need to recognize things that will absolutely undercut our ability to do our job.

FOLKENFLIK: First thing Saturday morning, President Trump tweeted, quote, "the failing New York Times foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist al-Baghdadi." The weekend edition of the opinion show "Fox & Friends" ran with it. Here's Fox's Pete Hegseth.


PETE HEGSETH: An then when that goes on the Internet, as the failing New York Times does, that can be read there and elsewhere. And so he understands what they know, goes underground, goes somewhere else, changes his plans.

FOLKENFLIK: Hegseth and co-host Abby Huntsman explicitly questioned the paper's patriotism.


ABBY HUNTSMAN: Yeah. You think about what the role is of media today. Is it to inform and to protect the American people? Because if that is the case, you think about something like that and the harm that it does to our national security.

FOLKENFLIK: The Times had disclosed that special forces had scooped up troves of digital material and had learned things from the captured wife of an ISIS minister. The Times said it explained what it is intended to publish to military officials beforehand without objection. The paper also noted that Fox's Catherine Herridge reported much the same back in 2015, though briefly and after its report. Yesterday morning, Fox News broadcasted the Times' objections, but the network did not apologize or retract a word. Instead, yesterday evening, a Fox News spokeswoman blasted the newspaper once more. David Folkenflik, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Folkenflik was described by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, once gave him a "laurel" for reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.