President Trump on Saturday morning alleged The New York Times “foiled” a U.S. attack on an ISIS leader, suggesting the paper has a “sick agenda” that hurts national security.
The Failing New York Times foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist,Al-Baghdadi.Their sick agenda over National Security— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017
It was not immediately clear why the president held the Times responsible or what attack he meant. However, he referred to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whose death has been speculated for months.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday that he believes al-Baghdadi is still alive.
"I think Baghdadi's alive," Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon. “Until I see his body, I am going to assume he is alive.”
The New York Times was one of several outlets that reported on the comments.
Russia claimed in June it had killed al-Baghdadi in an airstrike.
The New York Times is asking the White House to clarify the tweet, according to a Politico reporter.
Trump's allegation early Saturday may have been prompted by his TV viewing habits.
Special Operations Command Gen. Tony Thomas recently told Fox News that his team was close to catching al-Baghdadi in 2015 but “a prominent national newspaper” leaked information that ruined the military’s lead.
Frequent Fox News guest Tony Shaffer, a retired Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, discussed that allegation on “Fox and Friends Saturday,” saying The New York Times leaked information they should not have released publicly.
“I think this is the problem with The New York Times, with The Washington Post, that you have a media right now who is more worried, again, about supporting a political agenda than actually protecting the American people,” he charged.
The Fox News chyron during the segment read “NYT foils U.S. attempt to take out al-Baghdadi.”
CBS News editor Stefan Becket first made the connection on Twitter between the Fox News segment and Trump’s tweet.
This was at 6:20 a.m. Trump tweet 25 minutes later. pic.twitter.com/BCbEeQ1cmJ— Stefan Becket (@becket) July 22, 2017
Although Trump criticized the Times on Saturday, and has done so numerous times in the past, he also recently sat down with their White House reporter for a rare wide-ranging one-on-one interview in the Oval Office.
The Times was not the president's only media target on Saturday morning. Among other topics, he also criticized The Washington Post for reporting on intelligence intercepts in which Russia's ambassador claimed to have discussed Trump campaign matters with now-Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE.
A new INTELLIGENCE LEAK from the Amazon Washington Post,this time against A.G. Jeff Sessions.These illegal leaks, like Comey's, must stop!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017
- This post was updated at 9:32 a.m.