More than two years after airing false claims about a man named Austyn Crites, Fox News apologized for accusing him of voter fraud and bringing a gun to a Donald Trump rally. Crites was at a Nov. 2016 Reno rally for Trump holding a sign saying “Republicans against Trump.”
Trump accused him of being a Democratic Party plant, according to the Reno Gazette Journal, and someone shouted that Crites ad a gun, causing the Secret Service to remove him. He didn’t have a gun, but Fox & Friends still aired “unverified online theories” about voter fraud and the gun, the Gazette Journal explained.
Crites then sued in 2017, and the case was dismissed in 2019.
In a July statement to Crites on its website, Fox News explained it aired a Nov. 2016 Fox & Friends segment, broadcast and posted on YouTube, wrongly claiming he was “a reminder of the existence of voter fraud,” “suspected of voter fraud,” and using his dead grandmother’s address to vote absentee.
“We retract the untrue statements we made about you that are corrected by this letter. We apologize to you and your entire family for any embarrassment caused by our publication of these statements,” Fox News said.
A Fox News spokesperson told iMediaEthics: “The case has been dismissed. The parties went their own ways. Fox News Network LLC wrote a letter of apology which is posted on the Fox News Network website.”
Crites’ lawyer Thomas Erwin declined to comment to iMediaEthics, beyond noting the case was dismissed, “the parties went their ways,” and pointing to the apology from Fox News.
Fox News’ statement on its website reads in part:
“We now know that your grandmother did not die in 2002, as alleged in the segment. In fact, we now understand that both of your grandmothers are alive. We now do not believe that you committed voter fraud by voting in the name of your grandmother. We do not contend, and never intended to contend, that you committed voter fraud or that you committed a federal felony.
“The segment stated that many thought you had a gun at the Donald Trump for President rally in Reno, Nevada which you attended on November 5, 2016. We now know that you did not have a gun at the rally and that the United States Secret Service has not identified a weapon found at the rally.”