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Updated Jun 9, 2024, 8:42pm EDT
mediapolitics

How Fox News massaged a Trump interview

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The News

Fox News edited an interview with Donald Trump to remove a section in which he appeared to back off a promise to declassify federal files related to the late sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein because “you don’t want to affect people’s lives if it’s phony stuff in there.”

The former president was asked on Fox and Friends last Sunday whether, if elected again, he would declassify some federal government files related to 9/11, the JFK assassination, and “files” related to Epstein.

“Would you declassify the Epstein files?” host Rachel Campos-Duffy asked.

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“Yeah, I would,” Trump said, as the television segment ended.

But Trump’s full answer appeared later on Will Cain’s Fox News radio show:

Campos-Duffy: Would you declassify the Epstein files?

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Trump: Yeah, yeah, I would.

Campos-Duffy: All right.

Trump: I guess I would. I think that less so because, you don’t know, you don’t want to affect people’s lives if it’s phony stuff in there, because it’s a lot of phony stuff with that whole world. But I think I would, or at least—

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Campos-Duffy: Do you think that would restore trust — help restore trust.

Trump: Yeah. I don’t know about Epstein so much as I do the others. Certainly about the way he died. It’d be interesting to find out what happened there, because that was a weird situation and the cameras didn’t happen to be working, etc., etc. But yeah, I’d go a long way toward that one.

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Max’s view

The conservative network’s hosts sometimes have a habit of trying to lead Trump to certain answers during interviews. Trump’s answer on Epstein is muddled. He says he’ll release some federal records regarding Epstein’s death in a New York prison (despite the fact that the federal government has already released records of its investigation into his death), but does not commit to releasing any other potential “files” the federal government has on the financier or his associates.

Fox’s initial broadcast version papered over the ambiguity, which allows the former president to continue to cater to conspiracy theorists while expressing an entirely different concern — that outlandish conspiracy theories might hurt innocent people mentioned in documents.

The Fox broadcast also omitted comments about how Trump had “nice conversations” with the Taliban during his time in office and a line about “the N-word” in reference to the threat of Russia’s use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

(Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

After some mild friction over the last several years between the network and the former president, Trump has seemed to return home to Fox.

Despite the symbiotic relationship between Trump and the network during his time in office, in the years after the 2020 election, Trump’s relationship with the network was somewhat frostier. The former president was not pleased by the network’s open entertainment of alternatives to his return to office during the 2024 Republican presidential primary. The network also seemed to keep him more at arm’s length after its massive settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, which centered on the Trump campaign’s lies about the results of the 2020 election.

But those were bumps in the road. Last week alone, Trump granted the network two lengthy interviews, after providing the network with the first statement he made after he was convicted of falsifying business records.

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Notable

  • The Washington Post’s Philip Bump pointed out that Trump previously had the opportunity when he was president to declassify documents around JFK’s assassination and other events, and didn’t.
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