Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway caused a scene on Sunday morning when she purposely named the alleged whistleblower at the center of the impeachment inquiry against President Trump, seemingly breaking the network’s policy of identifying the person.
Amid a concerted effort by Trump’s allies to publicly out the whistleblower who filed the complaint about Trump’s infamous July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, right-wing media outlets have touted an online report purportedly sharing the identity of the person. Mainstream media outlets and social media platforms, meanwhile, have refrained from spreading the person’s name.
Fox News had reportedly also instructed its employees to not name the alleged whistleblower. CNN reported that the network had instructed staffers that it had not “independently confirmed [the] name or identification of the anonymous whistleblower.” Additionally, a network executive informed production staffers to “NOT fulfill any video or graphic requests” surrounding the whistleblower’s identity.
We reached out to Fox News for comment, but did not hear back by time of publication.
During Sunday’s broadcast of Fox News media analysis show MediaBuzz, Hemingway—who is also the senior editor of right-wing website The Federalist—took part in a panel discussion on whether or not the press should reveal the alleged whistleblower’s name and identity.
After noting that the New York Times had provided a lot of identifying details on its report about the whistleblower, Hemingway went on to point to the online article naming the person while explaining that the whistleblower’s name’s “already out there.”
“We could be talking about this reporting and talking about whether that’s accurate reporting or not,” Hemingway added. “So I feel a little confused why we are pretending it hasn’t already been reported.”
Host Howard Kurtz, clearly startled, immediately shot back that he didn’t know if that person was actually the whistleblower. Former Clinton adviser Philipe Reines, who was also on the panel, said that this “might be the first time that the name has been mentioned on Fox News, and not by a Fox News reporter.”
Reines, however, is incorrect. While Hemingway is the first paid Fox employee to name the whistleblower on air, during a segment last week with Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner, conservative radio host Lars Larson blurted out the name. Faulkner, for her part, didn’t react at all or push back in him identifying the person. Larson would later justify his actions by saying the “American people deserve to know the name of the man making the accusation that the Democrats hope to use to remove an American president.”
“I don’t know whether this is actually the person or not and I don’t want to speculate about that,” Kurtz, who has previously said outing the whistleblower would send a “chilling message” to other whistleblowers, went on to state. “But there have been a few conservative outlets and commentators who have floated that name.”
Hemingway concluded by claiming it is “clearly wrong” for media organizations and tech platforms like Facebook to say that “you’re not allowed to talk about what’s reported out there,” adding that the person’s name “has been reported.”