Fox News appears to be censoring the most damaging aspect of Donald Trump Jr.’s correspondence with Russia, with the news company automatically deleting any reference made within the comments section on its website.
Last week, reports emerged that the eldest of Donald Trump’s children met with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton that had been obtained by the Russian government in its bid to help Donald Trump. Days after that story was first published, Trump Jr. would post on Twitter the chain of emails leading up to the meeting, showing that he believed the lawyer was a Russian government official and that he was enthusiastic about receiving the stolen dirt on Clinton.
The email made it clear that Donald Trump Jr. believed the information he would receive came directly from the Russian government. As Vox noted, the evidence came in an chain of correspondence with Rob Goldstone, a British publicist who set up the meeting between Trump Jr. and lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya on behalf of Russian oligarchs Emin and Aras Agalarov.
“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” the initial email read.
But users who read articles on the Fox News website will not see that sentence. The news company appears to have set up an auto-filter that immediately deletes any reference to the above quote posted within its comment section.
The filter was first discovered by a Reddit user who noted that the quote from Donald Trump Jr.’s email chain, which was the first solid evidence of actual collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, was being deleted. The user found that the filter was evolving to find and delete even altered references to that sentence from Trump Jr.’s emails.
“I changed out some vowels to áéí etc and it posted. But not ten minutes later even that was added to the filter,” the user wrote. “Fox News was actively ensuring their audience never saw those words.”
The filter was set up on all stories, even those not connected to the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer. A comment quoting the sentence was automatically deleted from the comments on a story titled “Trump administration appeals Hawaii court ruling on travel ban,” though another comment posted less than a minute beforehand from the same account could be seen.
It is not clear why Fox News is automatically filtering the comment from Donald Trump Jr.’s email chain, though there are often legitimate reasons for using auto-filters in comments. They are often employed to automatically delete racist or offensive language, and can also be used to delete duplicate comments posted by bots, which can often derail real discussion. The Fox News website does have stories about Trump Jr.’s email correspondence with Russia including several that include the quote in question, but also has articles appearing to point toward the Obama administration for some responsibility in the meeting by granting permission for the lawyer to enter the United States.
— CNN (@CNN) July 15, 2017
Meanwhile, some Fox News television commentators have been critical of Donald Trump Jr., with some saying the meeting amounts to collusion with Russia.
— The Hill (@thehill) July 15, 2017
Fox News has not yet responded to questions of why the website is censoring comments about Donald Trump Jr.’s emails regarding meeting the Russian lawyer.
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