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Fox News apologizes to Gold Star family after facing backlash over false story

Fox News apologized Saturday to a Gold Star family for publishing a false story last month claiming that the family had to pay $60,000 to ship the remains of their fallen relative back from Afghanistan because the Pentagon refused to pay.

“The now unpublished story has been addressed internally and we sincerely apologize to the Gee family,” a Fox News spokesperson said in a statement, referencing the family of fallen Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee, who was one of 13 service members killed in a terror attack at the Kabul airport in 2021 while assisting with US withdrawal efforts.

The apology came after a Military.com report this week drew attention to the issue and indicated that the right-wing outlet’s top executives had repeatedly been notified by senior members of the Marine Corps that it was pushing a false story.

In an email to Fox News President Jay Wallace and other network personnel, Marine Corps spokesman Maj. James Stenger privately accused the outlet of capitalizing off Gee’s death “to score cheap clickbait points,” according to documents obtained by Military.com through a public records request.

In this August 20, 2021, image provided by the US Marine Corps, Sgt. Nicole Gee is seen calming an infant during an evacuation at Kabul airport in Afghanistan. Officials said on August 28, 2021, that Gee was among the Marines killed in a bombing at the airport. - Sgt. Isaiah Campbell/US Marine Corps/AP
In this August 20, 2021, image provided by the US Marine Corps, Sgt. Nicole Gee is seen calming an infant during an evacuation at Kabul airport in Afghanistan. Officials said on August 28, 2021, that Gee was among the Marines killed in a bombing at the airport. - Sgt. Isaiah Campbell/US Marine Corps/AP

Stenger, who is the top spokesman for the Marine Corps, added that he viewed the behavior of Fox News as “disgusting,” according to Military.com.

Initially, after being notified about the false report, Fox News only changed the headline on the story to attribute the claims to Republican Rep. Cory Mills of Florida, who had advanced the narrative but later recanted. The outlet later scrubbed the story from its website without a correction or explanation. It remained deleted on Saturday after the apology.

Deleting an entire story is exceedingly rare in news media and is seen as a last-ditch measure if the entire premise of the article is incorrect. Deleting a story without offering readers an explanation or correction is widely considered to be unethical.

In this case, Fox News did not publicly address the incident until the Military.com story ignited backlash against the outlet.

While unethical, the behavior is typical for Fox News. The outlet often breaks traditional news ethics and traffics in dishonest reporting and commentary.

Earlier this year, Fox News settled a defamation case with election technology company Dominion Voting Systems over lies related to the 2020 election. Fox News paid Dominion a historic $787 million to avoid a trial.

Fox News, however, still faces a $2.7 billion lawsuit from voting technology company Smartmatic. That lawsuit is making its way through the courts system.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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