A former Fox News reporter ― whose story on President Donald Trump’s hush money deal with porn star Stormy Daniels was killed ― spoke out against one of the network’s former executives as “a peddler of misinformation” on Friday.
In March, The New Yorker reported that Diana Falzone, who covered entertainment for Fox News’ website, had gathered proof that in 2006 Trump had a sexual relationship with Daniels. Falzone had spent months working on the story, but two weeks before the 2016 presidential election, it was rejected by Ken LaCorte, who was then the editorial head of Fox News online.
Addressing the matter in a Mediaite opinion piece days after The New Yorker exposé was published, LaCorte said Daniels would not confirm the affair and that Falzone’s report lacked the corroboration needed to make it ready for publication.
“Daniels and her associates were playing a bizarre cat-and-mouse game with Fox News and other outlets, trying to get their story out without fingerprints and, ultimately, without enough proof to publish,” he said.
Recalling that decision in a statement posted to Twitter on Friday and captioned “integrity matters,” Falzone took aim at LaCorte, pointing to a New York Times report calling out his effort “to inflame America’s culture wars.”
“Mr. LaCorte has now been exposed by the New York Times as a peddler of misinformation,” she added.
The Times story, published Thursday, singled out two of LaCorte’s websites ― Conservative Edition News and Liberal Edition News ― which grab readers’ attention with politically charged headlines designed to drive audiences further left or right.
The content, the Times reported, is put together by a staff of Macedonians in Veles, a northern city from which disinformation was spread in 2016.
In its investigation, the Times collaborated with Virginia-based security firm Nisos to discover that the sites are among several owned by LaCorte “that push inflammatory items ― stories, petitions and the occasional conspiracy theory ― to the American public.”
Last week, Facebook shut down LaCorte’s pages and those of his employees, based on the work of the Times and Nisos’ researchers. However, the social media giant, which has allowed content peddling hate and disinformation in the name of free speech, told the Times its decision wasn’t based on LaCorte’s content. Instead, it was caused by his buying and exchanging of site privileges ― a violation of its terms of service ― and the accounts’ engagement with Macedonian troll farms intended to sow discord online.
LaCorte was forced out of Fox News in late 2016 as the network restructured its staff following Roger Ailes’ resignation as CEO over a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Last year, LaCorte enlisted former NPR boss Michael Oreskes ― who stepped down in 2017 after facing sexual misconduct allegations ― to helm LaCorte News, his flagship venture welcoming those who’ve “stopped trusting the mainstream media.”
Former Fox News Executive Editor John Moody was also tapped to join LaCorte’s team. Moody left the network in 2018 after writing a widely criticized column claiming that the U.S. Olympic Committee was attempting to make its winter team “Darker, Gayer, Different.”
Shortly before the launch of LaCorte News, LaCorte told Politico that the circumstances had worked in his favor.
“I couldn’t have afforded either one of these guys had we not been in this crazy type of atmosphere,” he said. “In a weird way, I’m actually a beneficiary of companies being hypersensitive.”