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NYT asks Fox and Friends for apology for al-Baghdadi escape story

NYT asks Fox and Friends for apology for al-Baghdadi escape story
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The New York Times asked Fox & Friends for an apology on Sunday, after the network appeared to falsely blame the newspaper for leaking intelligence information that it said led to a top ISIS leader's escape, according to reports.

“I am writing on behalf of The New York Times to request an on-air apology and tweet from Fox & Friends in regards to a malicious and inaccurate segment ‘NY Times leak allowed ISIS leader to slip away,’” the letter said, according to Politico media reporter Hadas Gold and other reporters.

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“Neither the staff at Fox & Friends, nor the writers of a related story on FoxNews.com, appeared to make any attempt to confirm relevant facts, nor did they reach out to The New York Times for comment," the Times request said about the segment that aired on Friday.

Fox News responded to the letter on Sunday, noting that the article has been updated while also slamming the newspaper for "hyperventilating to the media about a correction.”

“The FoxNews.com story was already updated online and Fox & Friends will also provide an updated story to viewers tomorrow morning based on theFoxNews.com report. For all of their hyperventilating to the media about a correction, the New York Times didn’t reach out to anyone at Fox News until Sunday afternoon for a story that ran Friday night,” the news network said in a statement.

The story received additional traction on Saturday, when President Trump echoed the claims in the Fox News report.

“The Failing New York Times foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist,Al-Baghdadi.Their sick agenda over National Security,” Trump said in a tweet.

A Fox News source expressed frustration on Sunday over the Times’s public demand for an apology.

“If we notified the press every time the New York Times had to update an online story or correct something, your inbox would crash,” the source told The Hill.

The source questioned both the newspaper’s delayed timing in responding to the story and as well as how quickly its request made its way to other members of the press.

The Fox source claimed a top public relations spokeswoman at the Times, Danielle Rhoades-Ha, likely leaked the letter to the press by blind carbon copying reporters on the same email she sent to the Fox reporter, Catherine Herridge, who wrote the story in question.

Ha denied leaking the letter and said instead of asking for an apology, she only asked Herridge to update her story, which Ha said she did.

“The letter that is circulating on Twitter was sent to the executive producer of Fox & Friends Weekend at 12:50pm today. I asked for a response by 3pm. They did not and still have not responded. The entire premise of their segment is false,” Ha said in an email to The Hill.

The Times letter detailed the timeline of when the U.S. government made the information about the mission public to disprove the initial Fox News report that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi escaped because “he was able to sneak away under the cover of darkness after a New York Times story.”

The newspaper said Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the raid in question on the same day it took place in mid-May 2015. The Times said Carter's public statement could have tipped off the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria leader.

The letter to Fox noted that the Times published a story about the raid almost three weeks after the mission took place, and it received approval from Pentagon before running with it.

Ha also pointed to a “Fox & Friends” had aired an entire segment on the raid on May 17, three weeks before the Times published their report.

The claim that the Times thwarted efforts to snag al-Baghdadi, according to the letter, originated from “a misleading assertion by Gen. [Tony] Thomas speaking at a conference in Aspen.”

“No senior American official complained publicly about the story until now, more than two years later,” it said.

But the Fox News source pointed to a recent Washington Post article that mentioned Thomas’s comment at Aspen conference, and noted that he had previously blamed the Times for U.S. forces losing the trail on Baghdadi.

“Gen. Tony Thomas told reporters that a Times story in 2015 about using certain data to track Islamic State fighters that was gleaned in the Abu Sayyaf raid resulted in U.S. forces losing the trail to Baghdadi,” the Post article says.

- Updated: 8:44 p.m.