Fox News duped by phony military hero, removes false story
NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News Channel has removed a false story from its website, saying it was duped by an artist the network highlighted as a Vietnam veteran, a member of the first U.S. Navy SEAL team and a much-decorated war hero.
The report, which aired Oct. 8, focused on 72-year-old glass artist John Garofalo, who “despite health issues” emerged from semi-retirement to create a four-foot-high, 150-pound glass-and-bronze presidential seal he said he hoped to present to President Donald Trump.
The report — captioned “Decorated War Hero Hopes to Honor Trump With Glass Presidential Seal” — included numerous details of Garofalo’s alleged military past.
“Unfortunately, all of Garofalo’s claims turned out to be untrue,” Fox News said in a statement issued Thursday. “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.”
The story, by Fox News correspondent Bryan Llenas, displayed Garofalo’s work in progress which it described as a tribute to his hero, Trump, who “woke something up in me,” Garofalo said. “I have hope for him and I have hope for the country.”
Host Eric Shawn closed the story by saying, “God bless John Garofalo. We certainly hope the president is listening.”
In the network’s lengthy statement, which it characterized as a correction, not a retraction, Fox News said, “It is true that Garofalo is a glass artist and a veteran. He served in Spain and he gifted two presidential seals to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
“Over the last two weeks, we’ve worked with Garofalo’s family and the National Personnel Records Center to get to the bottom of a military past that Garofalo had claimed to be covert. We apologize to our viewers, especially veterans and servicemen and women,” Fox News said in its statement.
Along with the statement posted on its website, the network said it planned to offer an on-air correction Friday.