A former Fox News editor is touting “solid journalism” as the reason he killed the story alleging Stormy Daniels had an affair with Donald Trump.
Ken LaCorte is pushing back against claims that he opted not to publish the story ahead of the 2016 election because he was protecting then-candidate Trump from the alleged story of the encounter with the porn star.
In an opinion piece for Mediaite, the former Executive VP of FoxNews.com addressed an article by The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer which claimed that Fox News wouldn’t publish the story in order to protect Trump from the scandal. As Fox News’ Howard Kurtz noted that “it’s more clear than ever now” that the New Yorker story is “just way off base” in light of LaCorte’s piece.
Mayer claimed that former Fox News reporter Diana Falzone had proof of the 2006 encounter between Trump and Daniels and had “confirmed it with Daniels through her manager at the time, Gina Rodriguez, and with Daniels’s former husband, Mike Moz” as well as seeing the contract about a cash settlement between Daniels and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
According to Mayer’s New Yorker piece:
But Falzone’s story didn’t run—it kept being passed off from one editor to the next. After getting one noncommittal answer after another from her editors, Falzone at last heard from LaCorte, who was then the head of FoxNews.com. Falzone told colleagues that LaCorte said to her, “Good reporting, kiddo. But Rupert wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go.” LaCorte denies telling Falzone this, but one of Falzone’s colleagues confirms having heard her account at the time.
But LaCorte asserted that Mayer never spoke to him in detail about the allegations, and only wanted to confirm a quote by him, adding that the story was not “a detailed investigative piece” as the media touted, but “a 9-paragraph story that sorely needed backup.”
“It included: a two-word confirmation – ‘it’s true’ – from an unnamed Daniels ‘spokesperson,’ an anonymous quote from a friend who said she’d dropped off Daniels to meet Trump at a hotel, and quotes from The Dirty owner, who said that he had spoken to Daniels in 2011 and she had confirmed the affair,” LaCorte, who headed the editorial at Fox News digital for a decade beginning in 2006, wrote.
“The story wasn’t close to being publishable, and my decision to hold it was a no-brainer. I didn’t do it to help Trump and never said nor implied otherwise. It was such an easy call that I never even informed my direct boss or anyone in management about it,” he explained, noting that the pitched story had no mention of a contract or hush money payment and presented “secondhand accounts” of the affair.
Other outlets had been given similar tips about the affair but had chosen not to publish them either, LaCorte said.
“Daniels and her associates were playing a bizarre cat-and-mouse game with Fox News and other outlets, trying to get their story out without fingerprints and, ultimately, without enough proof to publish,” he wrote. “We and others practiced solid journalism. Now, that’s being spun in an effort to prove the opposite.”
LaCorte claimed that Mayer spoke to him in December about “some of my experiences at Fox News” but asked no questions about the Stormy Daniels story. He was surprised to get a call from a New Yorker fact checker as the publication of the piece neared, asking about quotes he never said, though efforts to correct them were unsuccessful.
“The New Yorker piece couldn’t have been more successful for them. In a media world where criticizing Fox News is an industry staple, the piece was picked up by almost every major outlet and Jane Mayer was feted throughout journalism,” he noted, adding that every outlet that “re-wrote” the story did not reach out to him.
“This whole episode is an example of why the media has a credibility crisis,” LaCorte wrote. “The ultimate irony is that in its zeal to hang Fox News for journalistic malfeasance, the media tossed journalistic standards in the trash can and gave readers the 100% wrong impression of Fox and the Stormy Daniels story.”
“Journalists: these are the reasons why half of America believes Donald Trump when he calls us ‘fake,'” he added.