Feb 29, 2024 - Politics & Policy

White House urges Fox News retract coverage of indicted FBI informant's Biden claims

Joe Biden, wearing a dark suit, blue shirt and sunglasses, walks outdoors.

President Biden before departing the White House on Feb. 29. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The White House wrote a letter to Fox News executives asking to correct its coverage of corruption allegations against President Biden.

Why it matters: Republicans have faltered in their impeachment inquiry into Biden after an ex-FBI informant whose information was at the center of the probe was charged with felony false statement and obstruction crimes, as well as implicated Russian intervention.

  • Fox News coverage has not qualified its reporting of the allegations, Ian Sams, special assistant to the president, wrote in the letter, obtained by Mediaite
  • "All Fox News Digital articles on this topic should at a minimum be updated with editor's notes informing readers that the source of this allegation has been federally indicted for making it up," Sams wrote.
  • Sams suggested that personalities including Sean Hannity and Jesse Watters "inform their viewers on air that they have been sharing a discredited allegation."
  • CNN first reported on the letter.

The other side: "FOX News Media has reported on all key developments since the announcement that Alexander Smirnov was charged with lying to the FBI, featuring the story prominently," a Fox News spokesperson said.

  • "We will continue to report on developments in all aspects of the ongoing investigations, hearings, and trials."

The letter was addressed to Suzanne Scott, Fox News' CEO; Jay Wallace, Fox News' president and executive editor; and Bryan Boughton, Fox News' Washington bureau chief.

  • It said that Fox promoted stories of a "false, discredited 'bribery' allegation" aggressively.
  • "Fox has taken no steps to retract, correct or update its reporting on this false allegation from 2023," the letter said.

Catch up quick: Fox News has declined to walk back its corruption claims against Biden, CNN reported.

  • "House Republicans told Fox News Digital that their impeachment inquiry has much more evidence that does not rely on the indicted FBI source," a Fox News story from Feb. 16 said.

Context: House Republicans accused Biden of involvement in his son Hunter Biden's business dealings, but have not presented evidence that he broke the law or benefitted financially from them.

  • Hunter Biden and James Biden, the president's brother, have both testified privately that the president didn't have involvement or interests in their businesses.

Flashback: Sams wrote a letter earlier this month to the White House Correspondents' Association expressing concern over the news outlets' coverage of Biden's handling of classified material, CNN reported.

  • Special Counsel Robert Hur's report questioned Biden's mental acuity and said that he "willfully retained and disclosed" classified materials after his vice presidency.

Go deeper: House Republicans see Biden impeachment slipping out of reach

Go deeper