The former editorial head of FoxNews.com responded Friday to a recent accusation that the network intentionally held off on reporting Stormy Daniels' story in order to help President Donald Trump win the 2016 election.
Ken LaCorte said Fox News and numerous other outlets were aware of the rumors at the time, but insists it would not have been responsible to publish the Daniels story with scant evidence, especially given the fact that she had publicly denied having an affair with then-candidate Trump.
Daniels — an adult film star whose given name is Stephanie Clifford — reportedly accepted a hush payment from President Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, but later came out with her story anyway.
What are the details?
In an extensive report for The New Yorker, Jane Mayer claimed that, prior to the 2016 election, LaCorte spiked a story by former Fox News journalist Diana Falzone, who "had obtained proof that Trump had engaged in a sexual relationship in 2006 with a pornographic film actress calling herself Stormy Daniels."
Mayer wrote that Falzone's story was shuffled around between editors before being ultimately rejected by LaCorte, who was head of Fox News online at the time. Mayer cited an anonymous source who recalled Falzone claiming LaCorte told her, "Good reporting, kiddo. But Rupert [Murdoch, chairman of 21st Century Fox] wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go."
LaCorte adamantly disputed Mayer's claims in an op-ed piece published Friday on Mediate, saying Falzone's story "wasn't a detailed investigative piece as the media has portrayed." The former Fox News executive said the story was not just sorely lacking in evidence, but noted that Daniels had publicly denied the affair and continued to do so for another year.
LaCorte called his unilateral decision not to publish the story at the time "a no-brainer."
"It was such an easy call that I never even informed my direct boss or anyone in management about it," he added.
In a scathing rebuke, LaCorte went on to slam Mayer and the dozens of media outlets who repeated her claims, saying "not a single reporter reached out to me. None."
LaCorte concluded by saying, "Journalists: these are the reasons why half of America believes Donald Trump when he calls us 'fake.'"
The Wall Street Journal was the first news outlet to fully report on the Stormy Daniels' affair allegations, a year after the election. By then, LaCorte had left Fox. He noted in his piece that Fox News' prior knowledge of the claims became exposed within days of the Journal's coverage, and "perhaps coincidentally it occurred at the same time Diane Falzone was suing the company for gender and disability discrimination."
Falzone is no longer at Fox News, either.
In an article for Vanity Fair published Thursday, Falzone argued against nondisclosure agreements, saying the one she signed with her former employer prohibits her from telling her account of what happened at the network regarding the Daniels story.