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White House demands Fox News walk back Biden corruption claims

The White House has formally called on Fox News to walk back its coverage of bribery and corruption allegations against Joe Biden.

In a letter sent to Fox News executives, White House spokesperson Ian Sams accused the right-wing network of failing to “retract, correct, or update its reporting” on a false allegation made by FBI informant, Alexander Smirnov, about a bribery scheme worth millions involving the Bidens, according to CNN.

Mr Smirnov allegedly told the FBI that Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of Kyiv-based Burisma, used his father’s name to solicit millions of dollars in bribes from the company.

He also claimed that executives from Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, paid Hunter and Joe Biden $5m each around 2015 – a claim that was later reported by Fox News, among other outlets.

The claim, which has been central to attempts by Republicans to impeach the Bidens in Congress, was later found to be false.

Earlier this month, Mr Smirnov was charged by federal authorities for allegedly fabricating the story and even apparently confessed that Russian intelligence was involved in efforts to smear the president.

The White House has formally called on Fox News to walk back its coverage of bribery and corruption allegations against president Joe Biden (Getty Images)
The White House has formally called on Fox News to walk back its coverage of bribery and corruption allegations against president Joe Biden (Getty Images)

He has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison.

Despite the charges, the White House said, Fox News has refused to walk back the story in a meaningful way.

“I would cite the number of times Jesse Watters and Sean Hannity promoted this allegation and made false statements about President Biden on primetime television throughout this time period, but the footnote citations would fill multiple pages,” Mr Sams underscored in his letter to three top Fox News executives, including chief executive Suzanne Scott, president Jay Wallace, and Washington bureau chief Bryan Boughton.

While Fox News has reported on Mr Smirnov’s arrest and legal proceedings, some of its hosts have not changed the tone of their coverage.

Hannity and Watters have continued to stand by the claims in dozens of segments, with Watters promoting a conspiracy theory Biden was locking up Mr Smirnov in retaliation for revealing the supposed scheme.

Meanwhile, articles by reporter Brooke Singman advancing Mr Smirnov’s bribery allegations remain unaltered on the Fox News website, without any mention that he has been charged with lying to federal law enforcement.

“We feel strongly that all Fox News Digital articles on this topic should at a minimum be updated with editor’s notes informing readers that the source of this allegation has been federally indicted for making it up,” Mr Sams wrote.

“We also feel strongly that Fox News Channel television personalities like Hannity and Watters, among others, should inform their viewers on air that they have been sharing a discredited allegation from a source who has been federally indicted for making it up,” he added.

CNN reported that Fox News has informed the White House that it does not intend to correct or retract its reporting.

In a statement, the network said: “Fox News Media has reported on all key developments since the announcement that Alexander Smirnov was charged with lying to the FBI, featuring the story prominently.

“We will continue to report on developments in all aspects of the ongoing investigations, hearings, and trials.”