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Uncomfirmed Report

Reported by Judy - August 11, 2004 -

Fox News today (August 11) has been playing up a report in the Washington Times that al Qaeda has a plan to assassinate a U.S. or foreign leader here or abroad before the November election.

Fox and Friends had an extensive report (for them) on the alleged al Qaeda plot (8:05 a.m. EDT), which co-host Steve Doocy said came from the right-wing Washington Times.

An hour later, Fox News Live led with Kelly Wright from Washington reporting that he was unable to substantiate any of the Times' claims of an assassination plot. Nevertheless, Wright continued to report on the story based on the newspapers' account.

Jon Scott continued the stress on the story, "asking" Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, "I guess it wouldn't be surprising if al Qaeda tried something before the election" (9:16 a.m. EDT). Scott likes to make statements and wait for the interviewee to respond, rather than simply asking questions.

Bridgett Quinn also included the alleged plot in her "Fox Tops" top stories list (9:43 a.m. EDT).

When it comes to stories about terror, Fox News likes to go out on a limb. Their own reporters can't find anybody to corroborate the story, which is based on anonymous sources. Yet Fox continues to prominently promote the story.

By late morning (10:45 a.m. EDT), The Associated Press still was not running a version of the Times' story on its newspaper wire, indicating that that news organization remained skeptical of it.

Fox has nothing to lose by waiting a few hours to further check the story out before running with it. It's a 24-hour channel and can break in with one of its "Fox News Alerts" at any time. It doesn't have to worry about getting beat on the story, since someone else already has broken it. But Fox News never passes up a chance to terrorize its viewers with "news" about the War On Terror.