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The Daily Beast and the Law Fare Blog have obtained copies of a Fox News internal research document that warns colleagues to be wary of “disinformation” from several of the network’s frequent pro-Trump contributors including investigative reporter John Solomon, Rudy Giuliani, Joe DiGenova and others about Ukraine. The 162-page memo, entitled “Ukraine, Disinformation, & the Trump Administration,” also notes key “omissions” by host Sean Hannity.
This research was written by senior political affairs specialist Bryan S. Murphy, who works in the network’s Brain Room, which is “a newsroom division of researchers who provide information, data, and topic guides for the network’s programming.”
Buried in the article is a statement to The Daily Beast from Mitch Kweit, senior vice president of Fox News’ Brain Room. He writes that this specific document contains “thousands of data points and the vast majority have no relation to FOX News—instead it’s now being taken out of context and politicized to damage the network.”
Kweit also reminds The Daily Beast that a briefing book is produced “for all major stories, which serves as a standing collection of extensive data on major topics for internal use by all those in editorial functions. The Ukraine briefing book is nothing more than a comprehensive chronological account of what every person involved in the Ukraine controversy was doing at any identifiable point in time, including tracking media appearances of major players who appeared on FOX News and in many other outlets.”
Please be aware as you read the following excerpts from The Daily Beast’s article about this document that both The Daily Beast and the Law Fare Blog are left-leaning media sources.
According to The Daily Beast:
[The document] openly questions Fox News contributor John Solomon’s credibility, accusing him of playing an “indispensable role” in a Ukrainian “disinformation campaign.”
The document also accuses frequent Fox News guest Rudy Giuliani of amplifying disinformation, as part of an effort to oust former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, and blasts Fox News guests Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova—both ardent Trump boosters—for “spreading disinformation.”
“John Solomon played an indispensable role in the collection and domestic publication of elements of this disinformation campaign,” the Fox briefing book notes.
Those smears, according to the briefing, were driven by people like disgraced former Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko…
Murphy urges Fox News employees to focus on a wide range of alleged journalistic misdeeds from Solomon, including ”non-disclosure of conflicts, use of unreliable sources, publishing false and misleading stories, misrepresentation of sources, and opaque coordination with involved parties.”
The existence of the briefing book was first publicly flagged by Marcus DiPaola, a former freelance Fox News producer.
The document also disputes the credibility of Trump personal attorney and frequent Fox News guest Rudy Giuliani. While the former New York mayor has regularly appeared on Fox to justify his efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter on Trump’s behalf, Murphy claims Giuliani is easily fooled by Ukrainian disinformation…
The brief also questions the credibility of diGenova and Toensing, a married pair of Washington lawyers and frequent Fox News guests who appeared across the network’s right-wing commentary shows.
The pair were regularly deployed by Fox hosts like Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and Tucker Carlson to criticize the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry and attack Fox News analysts who questioned the president’s actions.
The briefing book is also seemingly critical of Fox’s own coverage, urging employees to note the role that unnamed “US Media” outlets played a role in the “amplification of disinformation stories from clearly unreliable sources and non-disclosure of conflicts by guests.” While Fox isn’t specifically named in the introduction, much of the timeline focuses on appearances made on Fox programs, and Murphy writes that the “most prominent” outlets who amplified the disinformation campaign are mentioned in the timeline—a possible reference to Fox News itself.
The document notes omissions by Hannity, who frequently had Solomon, Toensing, diGenova, and Giuliani on his show. Murphy notes that the primetime star continued to refer to Solomon as an “investigative reporter” even after The Hill explicitly labeled his work to be “opinion.” The briefing also dings Hannity for failing to mention, in a segment featuring Toensing and diGenova about an affidavit filed on behalf of Firtash, that the pair were working for the Ukrainian oligarch Firtash—an obvious conflict of interest.
Let me preface this by saying that, I clearly lean to the right. I watch Hannity, The Ingraham Angle, and The Dan Bongino Podcast regularly. I read nearly everything John Solomon writes. I also agree with much of what Joe DiGenova has to say, although I admit, he does sometimes get a bit “overly excited.”
I am grateful for the hard work that they and many other like-minded investigative journalists have done to expose the deep state. Conservatives have to fight back. As we’ve witnessed over the past four years, the deep state is real, it is powerful, it is unrelenting and it is vast.
Likely because the failed take-down of President Trump is the most audacious and consequential venture the deep state has ever attempted, little attention has been paid to it in the past. Prior to the rise of Trump, it was less defined and less focused. It existed as a group of “elites,” aided by a complicit media, which acted quietly behind the curtain to influence events in Washington.
The candidacy and ultimate victory of Donald Trump was simply a bridge too far for them. Their desperation made them sloppy. The efforts of conservatives like Solomon, Hannity, Ingraham, Rep. Devin Nunes, Dan Bongino and so many others, has forced them out of the shadows.
Because they are slowly being revealed, their fear has intensified and their actions are becoming increasingly brazen and reckless. Frightened of exposure, they are declaring conservative news “disinformation” and “propaganda” and trying to rule it out of bounds.
President Trump himself has done much to expose the rot of the deep state/media nexus. If he gets four more years, he can finish the job. Better still would be for the Republicans to keep the Senate and retake the House. The stakes couldn’t be higher.