Fox News issued a public apology Saturday for a recent false story about the Gold Star family after Military.com revealed that the Marines privately urged the network to retract the article.
Military.com’s Aug. 23 coverage showed how a Marine confronted Fox News in July over its story on Sgt. Nicole G., one of 13 service members killed during the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan two years ago. The Fox News story sparked claims from a freshman member of Congress that Gee’s family had to pay $60,000 to have her remains moved to Arlington National Cemetery.
That turned out to be incorrect, and Fox News later quietly deleted the story without any correction or public acknowledgment of the error. The Ji family did not have to pay for the transportation of the Marine’s remains. After Military.com published the exchange between the service and the news outlet, other outlets were impressed Washington Post, CNN And newsmax I picked up the story.
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Fox News declined to comment on the Military.com story, which involved emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. She issued the apology on Saturday — exactly two years after Ji was killed, along with 10 other Marines, a Marine and a private, by a suicide bomber while helping to evacuate staff at Abe Gate near Kabul airport.
“The now unpublished story has been processed internally, and we deeply apologize to the G family,” a Fox News spokesperson told Military.com by email. The statement was first published by location Mediaite then acquired by other outlets.
Military.com asked Fox News if it had contacted the family directly to apologize and if it expected to issue a published correction to the article, which was deleted without explanation shortly after the Marines retracted its claims and mission and purpose. cast doubt to be precise.
Fox News did not answer these questions, but issued a statement of apology.
The story originated from Rep. Corey Mills, R-Fla., who told Fox News that Gee’s family had to pay for her remains to be transported from California to Arlington National Cemetery at a cost of $60,000.
Days after the inaccuracy emerged, Mills, an Army veteran, retracted his claim and said the family had been “at the time of their grief confused” about the transfer policy. On Monday, Military.com asked Mills’ office if he offered the family an apology similar to Fox News’, or if the family could have expected an apology.
A Mills spokesperson provided the post a statement The congressman made a statement last July regarding the handling of Gee’s remains, but has not commented on the apology.
Christy Champlin, J’s mother-in-law, was the first to offer an apology, as soon as the story broke.
“At that time, I knew we were going to be responsible for the cost of getting her to Arlington,” she told Military.com a few days after Fox’s initial story. “I now understand that there is a payment process for that.”
“I’m really, really sorry, and Congressman Mills has been very supportive and helpful,” she added.
Fox News mitigated its claim by changing the title and adding information after the initial publication. At the time, a US Marine Corps spokesperson accused the outlet of using the family to lure readers.
“Exploiting the grief of a family member of a fallen Marine to score cheap attractions is disgusting,” Maj. James Stinger said in a July 27 email to Fox News executives.
Throughout that week in late July, Fox News unnoticed updated its story and eventually deleted it entirely without an official retraction, which usually accompanies an update. benefit Why was the piece removed.
The Pentagon’s 47-page policy on relocation of remains from family members of fallen service members requires payment in advance if they want the remains of their loved ones to be moved to a second location after they are shipped from abroad at a direct cost to the government. The costs of the second transfer will then be reimbursed by the Ministry of Defense.
After being transported from Afghanistan to California, where she was memorialized by her local community, the Gee family wanted Nicole’s remains to be moved to Arlington. Before any second transfer could begin, a nonprofit called Honoring Our Fallen secured a donation from a veteran to ship the remains via a special flight.
“We never had to pay a bill and we were never presented with an invoice,” Champlin told Military.com last month after the Fox News story disappeared from its website without correction.
When she told Mills her story at a Gold Star family event, her intention was to shine a spotlight on politics and — more generally — get answers from President Joe Biden’s administration on how to get out of Afghanistan where her daughter-in-law died. He was “successHe described the president as such.
“None of our children go there to ask about anyone’s political affiliation,” she told Military.com recently, saying her interest in hearing answers from senior officials had nothing to do with politics for her. “I would just like them to have a chance to tell me how this worked.”
Of the Gold Star family community, Champlin said, “It’s a group you never want to be a member of, but the members are just so amazing. We support each other so well.”
Drew F. Lawrence can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @df_lawrence.
Related: Inside the Marine Corps’ battle with Fox News over the false Gold Star family story