Fox News has quietly changed the headline of a highly controversial article that equated a Pride flag hanging on the White House with “nurturing and pedophilia.”
After an angry backlash from LGBTQ+ advocates and White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates, the blamed the network Fox changed the headline, claiming he was “characteristically a complete liar,” but retained the article’s central “grooming” allegations.
The original headline and a now-deleted tweet from Fox News lifestyle reporter Kerry Byrne read: “White House Raised Controversial New Transgender Flag That Promotes Grooming and Pedophilia, Critics Say.”
The article quoted a founder of the far-right activist group Gays Against Groomers, who claimed the flag was a political statement about “indoctrinating children and trans children and urging children to sterilize and mutilate themselves.”
Mr Bates then shared a screenshot of Mr Byrne’s request for comment, which made no mention of any connection to pedophilia or grooming.
“Fox has not even disclosed to the White House the malicious and discredited basis of this article,” Mr. Bates said tweetedbefore referencing Fox’s $787.5 million defamation settlement with Dominion Voting Systems.
“@FoxNews typically lies through and through. See Dominion Voting Systems vs. Fox News Network. Fox did not even tell the White House the vicious and discredited basis of this article. Then they lie about whether we even responded,” he tweeted.
Mr Bates also shared a screenshot of the Fox News email asking for comment.
After a backlash, Fox News on Wednesday changed the headline: “The White House Raised a Controversial New Transgender Flag That Concerns Some Critics in the Gay Community.”
.@FoxNews lies characteristically through the teeth.
See Dominion Voting Systems vs. Fox News Network.
Fox did not even tell the White House the vicious and discredited basis of this article.
Then they lie about whether we even answered. https://t.co/2nu6KFmQXs
— Andrew Bates (@AndrewJBates46) June 14, 2023
Fox Digital did not add a footnote explaining that the article has been modified.
The flag in question, known as the Progress Pride flag, was designed by artist Daniel Quasar in 2018 and is based on the original multicolored rainbow flag and transgender pride flag, according to Northwestern University.
The White House confirmed this Mediait that it had replied to Fox News that it had flown the flag at Pride events for three years.
Fox News later updated its story to include the answer after publication.
The edited version included a line that said, “The White House did not respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment on the design and meaning of the flag.”
Twitter users pointed out that in a corporate responsibility report in 2022, Fox’s parent company wrapped its logo in the same flag to encourage inclusivity.
Neither the White House nor Fox News responded immediately The IndependentRequest for comments.
Fox News, other right-wing media organizations, and far-right figures have repeatedly promoted a narrative linking transgender rights with pedophilia.
The “grooming conspiracy theory” that has led state legislatures to pass dozens of criminal laws targeting the LGBTQ+ community is based on “discredited research and junk science,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
On Wednesday night, a Biden administration source told CNN, “Fox have paid the largest settlement in media history for spreading dangerous lies, and the lesson they have learned from that experience is to repeat the same behavior, including spreading unsubstantiated QAnon crap?”
This comes after Fox News was criticized earlier this week for calling President Joe Biden a “wannabe dictator” who tried to “have his political rival arrested” during Donald Trump’s post-indictment speech.