Trump calls on Fox News to fire reporter who confirmed war dead 'losers' remarks

Protesters gather outside Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, USA, on September 5, 2020.
Protesters gather outside Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, USA, on September 5, 2020. © Yuri Gripas, REUTERS

US President Donald Trump has demanded that Fox News fire its national security correspondent after she confirmed parts of a bombshell story about the president referring to fallen US soldiers as "suckers" and "losers".

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Trump came under fire after The Atlantic magazine reported that he decided to skip a visit to a US military cemetery in France in November 2018 because it was "filled with losers".

The official explanation for that missed visit was bad weather. 

Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin said two former administration officials had confirmed to her that the president "did not want to drive to honour American war dead" at the Aisne-Marne cemetery outside Paris, implying weather was not a factor.

One official also told her that Trump had used the word "suckers" to denigrate the military, but in a different context related to the Vietnam War.

"When the President spoke about the Vietnam War, he said, 'It was a stupid war. Anyone who went was a sucker,'" she quoted the unnamed official as saying.

"It was a character flaw of the President. He could not understand why someone would die for their country, not worth it," the source said.

A furious Trump tweeted late Friday: "Jennifer Griffin should be fired for this kind of reporting. Never even called us for comment. @FoxNews is gone!"

Trump has angrily defended himself in the wake of the story in The Atlantic, tweeting and retweeting stories condemning it as "fake news". He called the magazine's editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg, who wrote the piece, a "slimeball".

The magazine said four sources had confirmed that Trump rejected the idea of visiting the US cemetery in 2018 because the rain would dishevel his hair and he did not believe it important to honour America's war dead.

'My sources are unimpeachable'

The habitually Trump-friendly Fox News has been criticised for seemingly sidelining Griffin's reporting in its coverage of the story. 

A story on its front page Saturday was headlined: "Sources dispute claim Trump nixed visit to military cemetery over disdain for slain veterans."

Several of Griffin's colleagues at Fox have publicly defended her on Twitter, along with Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger, who called her "fair and unafraid".

Griffin doubled down on her reporting on air saying: “I can tell you that my sources are unimpeachable. I feel very confident with what we have reported at Fox.” 

She added: “It is always better when people come on camera, but you can see how people get destroyed when they get crosswise with the president when they come out, and so people are reluctant,” Griffin said Saturday.

Just before The Atlantic published its story, a poll by the Military Times and the Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families found that just 37.4 percent of active duty personnel support Trump's re-election bid, while 43.1 percent back Joe Biden.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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