Fox News changed the headline of a story about the White House’s LGBTQ pride flag on Wednesday after a Biden spokesperson accused the network of blatantly “lying.”
The article revolved around the Progress Pride flag hung outside the White House between two American flags during its pride celebration last weekend and was originally titled, “White House flew controversial new transgender flag that promotes grooming and pedophilia, say critics,” according to HuffPost.
Promoted in a now-deleted tweet with the language from the headline by its author, Kerry J. Byrne, the piece cited Jamiee Mitchell, the founder of the right-wing group “Gays Against Groomers, who told Fox that “the flag represents to us an ideology, a political statement of indoctrinating kids and trans kids and pushing kids to sterilize and mutilate themselves.”
White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates blasted the conservative news network in a quote tweet of the writer’s post, accusing them of lying about the “foundation of this article” when Byrne requested comment from his office.
“.@FoxNews is characteristically lying through their teeth. Please see Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox News Network,” Bates said, referencing the company’s infamous discovery period in the suit from voting tech manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems that revealed Fox’s top executives knowingly peddled false claims about the 2020 election, and its subsequent $787.5 million settlement.
“Fox never even communicated the malicious and discredited foundation of this article to the White House. Then they lie about whether we responded at all,” Bates continued.
Bates then posted a screenshot of the email Byrne sent the White House, which does not mention that the resulting piece would center right-wing criticism of the flag or offer the Biden administration the chance to address those opinions.
Fox, after Bates’ tweets, revised the headline to “White House flew controversial new transgender flag that troubles some critics in the gay community.”
The network also updated the article with a statement from the White House saying it had flown the flag for the last three years but added that the office “did not respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment on the flag’s design and meaning.”
The Progress Pride Flag was created in 2018 by Daniel Qasar, building on the efforts of the 2017 Philadelphia Pride Flag design to make the traditional flag more inclusive.
“Quasar added a white, pink, and light blue stripe to represent the Trans community,” the Human Rights Campaign writes of the flag. “While the black and brown stripes still represented communities of color, the black stripe is also a nod the thousands of individuals that the community lost during the HIV/AIDS crisis in 1980s and 1990s.”
Notably, Fox News’ parent company overlaid the flag on its FOX logo in a 2022 corporate social responsibility report, according to Media Matters for America.
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The online confrontation marks the second time the White House has fired back at Fox News this week. On Wednesday, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre criticized the network for a chyron that called President Joe Biden a “wannabe dictator” Tuesday evening as it aired a split-screen view of Biden’s Juneteenth event and former President Donald Trump’s rally decrying his 37-count criminal indictment, The Independent reports.
“So, there are probably about 787 million things that I can say about this, that was wrong about what we saw last night, but I don’t think I’m gonna get into it,” Jean-Pierre said during her daily briefing.
A spokesperson for Fox News told media outlets in a statement that the controversial chyron was “taken down immediately and was addressed” internally. The response, however, came nearly 12 hours after the chyron aired and reactions to it rolled in.
“This country is completely unprepared for a full-time propaganda network,” wrote a journalist for KTLA in Los Angeles, David Lazarus, tweeted.