The Fox News program "Fox & Friends" issued a correction on July 11 regarding an unverified story about former FBI Director James Comey possibly leaking classified information (video below).
Co-host Steve Doocy issued the correction in reference to the story, which aired on July 10:
Yesterday on this program, we aired and tweeted this story saying former FBI director James Comey leaked memos containing top secret information. We were mistaken in that.
According to the report, half of the memos contain information classified at the secret or confidential level, not top-secret. Markings of the government documents in which Mr. Comey leaked are, at this point, unclear. Just wanted to straighten that out.
On July 10, President Donald Trump tweeted the original story after it aired on Fox News: "James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!"
"Fox & Friends" based their assertions on an article that ran in The Hill on July 10 that used unidentified sources and suggested that Comey may have leaked classified information.
The news site Vox pushed back on the report:
There’s no evidence that is true. The president’s tweet apparently came from a segment on Fox & Friends, which was a misleading interpretation of a report from the Hill newspaper on the contents of Comey’s memos. ... the report does not claim that Comey actually leaked classified information to the New York Times or anyone else.
Neither "Fox & Friends," Trump, or The Hill mentioned that the article was written by John Solomon, a former top executive with the Sinclair Broadcast Group, a conservative news outlet that owns television stations across the U.S.
A news release on July 10 by The Hill announced the hiring of Solomon:
Solomon joins The Hill from Circa, an independent digital venture created by Sinclair Broadcast Group to reach millennial consumers on their mobile devices with exclusive video news, entertainment and humor content, where he was chief operating officer.
In December 2016, it was revealed by Politico that Sinclair made a deal with the Trump campaign team to get better media coverage.
Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, reportedly told business executives that the agreement gave Sinclair better access to Trump and the campaign; in exchange, Sinclair would broadcast its interviews with Trump without adding commentary.
Scott Livingston, vice president of news at Sinclair, insisted that offers for long interviews at local TV stations were made to both Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
According to a Trump spokesperson, the deal encompassed interviews airing on every Sinclair affiliated station.
The Trump spokesperson said that a similar deal was made with Hearst Television, which also owns stations across the country, but Barbara Maushard, a senior vice president at Hearst, said: "Any suggestion that Hearst Television cut any deal with political candidates is categorically false and absurd."
Sources: Fox & Friends via YouTube, Donald Trump/Twitter, The Hill, Politico, The Hill via PR Newswire, Vox / Photo credit: Pwnie Express/Flickr, Federal Bureau of Investigation via Wikimedia Commons, Fox News Channel via Wikimedia Commons