The U.S. Marine Corps went up to the highest levels of Fox News last month to challenge a story that falsely claimed a fallen Marine’s family had to cover the cost of transporting her remains, emails obtained by The Washington Post show.
Fox quietly amended the digital story and then removed it from its website following more complaints from the Marines but still has not apologized or corrected the erroneous report, which had been based on a false claim quickly retracted by a congressman.
The Marines’ communications with Fox were first reported by Military.com, which obtained the emails this week under a Freedom of Information Act request.
The July 25 FoxNews.com story relied on an account from freshman Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.), who stated that the family of Sgt. Nicole L. Gee had shouldered “a heavy financial burden” of $60,000 to retrieve her body from Afghanistan. Gee, 23, was one of 13 U.S. service members killed in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport in the frantic final days of the U.S. withdrawal.
The story’s reporter, Michael Lee, quoted Mills calling the family’s supposed expenditures an “egregious injustice.” Neither Pentagon officials nor Gee’s family were quoted in the original story.
Marine Corps officials say the family did not face any financial burdens to have Gee’s body shipped to Arlington National Cemetery. They disputed the story in a series of emails to Fox executives — including Fox News president and executive editor Jay Wallace and editor in chief Porter Berry — shortly after the story was published.
“The allegations originally published turned out to be false, which I suspect Mr. Lee knew in the first place, and was the reason he did not seek comment from the Marine Corps,” wrote Marine Corps spokesman Maj. James Stenger in an email to the Fox executives. [Continue reading…]