Fox News ran a ridiculous fake story to make Trump look good. It ended up making Fox look very bad.
Fox News aired a story purportedly about a decorated Vietnam veteran supporting Donald Trump who had made artwork praising him.
The problem is, the "Vietnam veteran" was a complete phony.
Days after Fox News aired its fake news segment, Trump gushed about the channel in an interview with Fox host Brian Kilmeade. Trump complained that several mainstream media outlets have an "agenda," are regularly "inaccurate" in their reporting, and are "a bunch of fakers."
But he singled out Fox News for praise. "Fox is good. Fox — we love you, Fox," he gushed.
Why wouldn't he? Fox's mission for the last 21 years is to promote right-wing propaganda. The network promotes the right, attacks the left, unapologetically deceives its audience — all while maintaining a culture of pervasive racism and sexism.
The fake veteran is a perfect example of the network's mission in action. Fox loves to show its audience that the politicians it works for have the support of the troops — even one with a documented history of behavior demeaning and insulting to the military. Like Trump.
The soft-focus story, of a decorated military veteran who just loves Trump, was a perfect — and fake — fit.
The segment with the fake Vietnam veteran, John Garafolo, aired on Oct. 8. Garafolo, a glass artist, had created a glass presidential seal designed to be a gift for Trump.
In the segment, Fox described the man as a "purple heart recipient" who saw Trump as "a man that has given him hope." On-screen text described Garafolo as a "Vietnam veteran."
Reporter Bryan Llenas described Garafolo as someone who "believes in President Trump" and highlighted that he "served seven years and was a member of the nation's first Navy SEAL team." He added that Garafolo was "awarded 22 commendations including two purple hearts."
Fox's reporter said to Garafolo "you are a hero." Garafolo then teared up and said, "Heroes are the ones that didn't come home."
It was all a lie.
Garafolo served in the Navy for four years, in a job overseeing ground-based functions involving aircraft. As the Military Times reports, "The closest he ever got to Vietnam was a tour in Rota, Spain."
He later admitted that he had fabricated his entire story.
"What I did I‘m ashamed of, and I didn’t mean to cause so much disgrace to the SEALs," he said.
Fox was alerted that the so-called veteran was a phony, both by his family and by former SEALs. Fox kept the story online as it racked up over 1.5 million views on Facebook. A tweet directed to Fox just two days after the segment aired highlighted the "phony NAVY Seal," but the story stayed up.
It wasn't until Oct. 19 that Fox finally admitted the story was fake and retracted it.
"Unfortunately, all of Garofalo's claims turned out to be untrue," Fox said in a statement. "The fact is that he did not serve in Vietnam. He was never a U.S. Navy SEAL. Even though he showed us medals, Garofalo was not awarded two Purple Hearts or any of the other nearly two dozen commendations he claimed to have received, except for the National Defense Service Medal."
By that point, millions of people had seen the fake story, believing a decorated veteran was backing Donald Trump. Exactly the story that Fox wanted them to see, and they know that not nearly the same amount of people will see their retraction.
No wonder Trump loves Fox so much.