Fox News is at it again. Or, rather, a CNN report Tuesday reveals once again that Fox News has been at it for a long time.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, the network reportedly had its hands on a story about then-candidate Trump’s relationship with a pornographic actress named Stephanie Clifford — whose stage name is Stormy Daniels — and they chose not to publish the story. Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal published a bombshell report detailing the fact that Trump attorney Michael Cohen had arranged to pay Clifford $130,000 not to discuss her alleged relationship with Trump. But according to CNN, it was Fox News that actually had it first.
In October 2016, the same month Cohen arranged the payment, Fox News reporter Diana Falzone reportedly filed a story about Trump’s relationship with Clifford. She had an on-the-record statement from Clifford’s manager at the time, who confirmed that Clifford had had a sexual relationship with Trump, and she had seen emails about a settlement. Fox News killed the story.
In May of 2017, Falzone filed a lawsuit against Fox News alleging gender discrimination. The case is ongoing, and Fox News has denied the accusations.
The network also denied that they killed the story. In a statement, Fox News editor in chief Noah Kotch told CNN that the outlet was pursuing the story, but, “In doing our due diligence, we were unable to verify all of the facts and publish a story.”
Fox News anchors have spent the first year of the Trump administration defending the president, repeating, and refining his talking points, and the late Roger Ailes, the network’s former chairman and CEO, advised Trump before presidential debates. Trump also has a cozy relationship with Rupert Murdoch, the network’s current CEO.
Additionally, one of Trump’s favorite hobbies is live tweeting the daily propagandist broadcasting the network puts on, especially its morning show, Fox & Friends.
Unemployment for Black Americans is the lowest ever recorded. Trump approval ratings with Black Americans has doubled. Thank you, and it will get even (much) better! @FoxNews
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2018
…big unnecessary regulation cuts made it all possible” (among many other things). “President Trump reversed the policies of President Obama, and reversed our economic decline.” Thank you Stuart Varney. @foxandfriends
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2018
Neither Clifford nor Falzone responded to CNN’s requests for comment, but Clifford did release a statement — distributed by Cohen — following the publication of the Wall Street Journal story last week.
“My involvement with Donald Trump was limited to a few public appearances and nothing more,” Clifford said in the release. “When I met Donald Trump, he was gracious, professional and a complete gentleman to me and EVERYONE in my presence. Rumors that I have received hush money from Donald Trump are completely false. If indeed I did have a relationship with Donald Trump, trust me, you wouldn’t be reading about in the news, you would be reading about it in my book. But the fact of the matter is, these stories are not true.”
Other media outlets have, however, confirmed that they were in touch with Clifford ahead of the Wall Street Journal report about Trump’s relationship with Clifford and Cohen’s reported payment. Slate editor-in-chief Jacob Weisberg published a story Tuesday about his discussions with Clifford, and The Daily Beast published an article Friday about their own reporting on Clifford’s relationship with Trump.