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Monday, November 13, 2023
MRC Censors Fox News' Fake News About A Gold Star Family
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center tried to work up outrage that the attacks on President Biden and his administration by Gold Star families whose family members died in Afghanistan were supposedly being ignored by non-right-wing media. Kevin Tober set the narrative -- while giving Fox News a cookie for advancing the conservatively correct narrative -- in an Aug. 7 post:

As we approached the two-year anniversary of the disastrous and deadly withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in which thirteen U.S. service members died, the families of those brave Americans were still seeking answers and accountability. Only to be stonewalled by the Biden administration. On Monday, House Republicans held a hearing and heard testimony from the family members of the thirteen Americans who died in Afghanistan due to the botched withdrawal. Fox News covered the hearing live in the afternoon while also providing viewers who may have missed it a full recap during Special Report. All three evening news networks thumbed their nose at the Gold Star families by ignoring the hearing. 

Instead of covering the hearing, ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News wasted airtime by covering the Mega Millions lottery numbers (ABC), the anti-American women’s soccer team losing in the World Cup (CBS), and another update on an investigation into a plastic plant fire (NBC). 

Special Report anchor Bret Baier had the story which was one of the first he covered during Monday’s newscast. According to congressional correspondent Aishah Hasnie, this was the first time “the Gold Star families of 13 U.S. service members killed by a suicide bomber at Kabul Airport [told] their stories together in public.”

Craig Bannister repeated the complaint -- with added political exploitation by the MRC -- in an Aug. 22 post:

Given a week to reply, the presidents of ABC, NBC, and CBS have refused to respond to Media Research Center (MRC) Founder and President Brent Bozell’s letter asking why they didn’t cover the testimony of Gold Star parents who lost loved ones in President Joe Biden’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan.


“Gold Star families are being disrespected by the country their children died for. What could be more important to cover on your network than this?” Bozell asked the news presidents of the three networks, in separate letters sent Tuesday, August 15. The letters set a response deadline of Monday, August 21.

As of Tuesday morning, not one of the three networks had replied.

“This wasn't a partisan event. These parents likely span the political spectrum,” Bozell notes.


“Unfortunately, we cannot attribute your lack of coverage to mere oversight,” Bozell tells the executives, noting that other media outlets, such as Fox News, covered the event on the same day that it happened.

The networks’ news blackout wasn’t just disrespectful of the Gold Star parents, it was also a great disservice to the country, Bozell tells the network news presidents.

Of course, given right-wing media's eagerness to exploit the situation, it very much was a "partisan event." Bannister added that Bozell noted "examples of the heart-wrenching testimony of the grieving Gold Star parents," including "Christy Shamblim, mother-in-law of Sergeant Nicole Gee said, 'When our leaders call this evacuation a success, it is like a knife in the heart.'"

When NBC covered the story a few days later, Tober was quick to credit his employer's partisan activism in an Aug. 29 post -- though he offered no proof that this was actually the case -- while complaining that CBS and ABC "continued to leave their viewers in the dark." Tim Graham pressed the narrative again in his Aug. 30 podcast:

Gold Star families who lost loved ones in the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan are not happy with President Biden, or the State Department, or the Pentagon. This might explain why the networks have tried to avoid these people, since they seem like guardians of whatever popularity Biden still has.


They can give you hours and hours of live coverage of the House January 6 Committee, but they can’t do two minutes on this? Instad, we saw reports on Amazon raising its purchase minimum to qualify for free shipping (ABC), and a water main break in New York's Times Square (CBS). 

Despite all this claimed respect for Gold Star families, the MRC censored the fact that, as all of the above was going on, Fox News lied about one of them. reported:

The Marine Corps worked behind the scenes last month in an attempt to convince Fox News to retract its false story claiming a Gold Star family was forced to pay $60,000 to ship the remains of a Marine killed in Afghanistan, according to emails obtained by

A service spokesman notified the news network that it was pushing an incorrect story and accused it of using the grief of fallen Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee's family to draw in readers, the email exchanges, released through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request, show. Fox News eventually deleted the story with no correction, and it never reached out to the Gee family with an apology as the Marine Corps requested, the family said.

The Fox News story came from Republican Rep. Cory Mills, a freshman congressman from Florida, who claimed Gee's next of kin were strapped with the $60,000 charge after a meeting with the families of Abbey Gate bombing victims, a suicide attack where 13 service members were killed outside of the Kabul airport in 2021.

Gee's family never paid a dollar to transport her remains, and the Marine Corps let Fox News know -- in no uncertain terms -- that the July 25 story was false in a series of emails over the following days.

"This headline correction is still misleading and your story is still false," Maj. James Stenger, the lead spokesperson for the Marine Corps, wrote to Fox News in an email after the publication changed the headline and body of the story in an attempt to soften the accusation.

"Using the grief of a family member of a fallen Marine to score cheap clickbait points is disgusting," Stenger wrote. The spokesman was one of several military officials frustrated with the story, according to the documents.

Comments from Gee's family, the Pentagon and the nonprofit that actually stepped in to pay for the flight before the Defense Department became involved were eventually added to the story before it was taken down, reported, but none of the changes were marked as updates or corrections.

A few days later, Fox News finally issued a lame apology: "The now unpublished story has been addressed internally and we sincerely apologize to the Gee family." No explanation was provided for why it stuck by the story for so long or a more comprehensive correct or apology was not provided.

Graham, Tober and the rest of the MRC would never let you hear the end of it if a non-right-wing outlet spread lies about a Gold Star family. But the MRC works hard to defend Fox News and gives it special protection from criticism. As we documented, it handwaved the revelation that Fox News deliberately lied to its viewers about election fraud -- lies that resulted in Fox News paying $787 million to Dominion in a defamation lawsuit settlement -- because its viewers don't care that they're being lied to and pushing right-wing narratives is more important than the truth.

This highly selective and partisan approach to "media research" not only makes the MRC's purported concern about Gold Star families look hollow and hypocritical -- it's one big reason why few people take the MRC seriously.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:52 PM EST

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