Hillary Clinton may have been discharged from hospital after treatment for the blood clot she was recently diagnosed with, but, over at the State Department, Fox News is in the line of fire over insinuations made by Fox correspondent and producer Justin Fischel.
The new row follows comments made by Fox News in December after a State Department statement that Mrs. Clinton would be unable to testify before the House of Representatives and Senate Foreign Affairs Committees about the September 11, 2012 attacks on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya because she had fallen and suffered a concussion.
Raw Story reports that, just two days after the State Department released their statement, Fishel turned up at a State Department press briefing and appeared to question its veracity.
“Toria, can you expand on why Secretary Clinton can’t testify on Thursday about this [Benghazi hearing]?” Fischel asked Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, according to a transcript. “It seems that she has not been available to testify on the Benghazi situation on some very key dates, including the Sunday after 9/11 and now this Thursday.”
The Hollywood Reporter notes that Nuland explained that the Secretary of State was “still under the weather,” adding “she was diagnosed as having suffered a concussion, and her doctors have urged her to stay home this week. So it’s on that basis that she’s asked for the committees’ understanding … But it was her intention to be there. If she had not been ill, she would be there.”
Following that briefing, Mrs. Clinton was hospitalized for a blood clot — de facto answering the largely skeptical tone taken by some at Fox News — a state of affairs that was called “snarky” by Fox host Greta Van Susteren in a blog post she wrote on December 19.
Now the State Department has upped the ante.
In an email obtained by The Washington Post published on Wednesday, Clinton Senior Advisor Philippe Reines pulled no punches in a withering letter to Fishel.
“We owe you an apology,” Reines writes. “I’m almost embarrassed to even admit this – but somehow your question at today’s Daily Press Briefing was somehow completely mauled and transcribed in the release.”
“I just called them and read them the riot act for putting such misleading, accusatory, and absolutely asinine words in your mouth. Because after what we and her doctors explained over the weekend regarding her health, you couldn’t possibly have been insinuating the ulterior motives that question implies. No way. No credible journalist would do that without any basis whatsoever.”
“[…] While I know the media can often be incredibly self-involved, there is no way you, an informed reporter, would equate one’s testifying before the United States Congress – made up of duly elected Senators and Representatives empowered by Article I of our Constitution – with going on tv. I don’t know Chris Wallace all that well, but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t place his television show on par with one of the three branches of our government. And therefore, saying that this has happened on multiple ‘key dates’ is simply a blatant lie and grossly misleading to the public.Anyway, our sincere apologies. If you send us what you really said, I’ll make sure it’s properly reflected.”
Since Mrs. Clinton’s release on Wednesday, Fishel has yet to publicly respond to Reines’ letter, the Hollywood Reporter notes.