A day after Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway named the alleged whistleblower on the cable channel, MediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz mildly rebuked his colleague, saying Hemingway shouldn’t have publicly identified the person right-wing media outlets claim is the whistleblower at the center of the impeachment inquiry.
During a Monday afternoon appearance on Fox News’ The Daily Briefing, Kurtz—who moderated the Sunday panel discussion featuring Hemingway’s antics—was asked by host Dana Perino what a news outlet’s policy should be towards naming the alleged whistleblower.
“I don’t think it’s the role of the media to disclose the identity of the whistleblower,” Kurtz noted. “As you know, a name came up on my program yesterday.”
“I don’t think that should have happened,” he continued. “Mollie Hemingway says that she was simply repeating a name that had been bandied about by certain sites and no one had told her that Fox and other organizations were not using the name.”
As Trump continues to attack the whistleblower and his loyalists have ramped up their efforts to publicly out the person, Fox News reportedly directed its staff to refrain from naming the alleged whistleblower on air, noting the network had not "independently confirmed [the] name or identification of the anonymous whistleblower." A Fox executive also instructed production staffers to “NOT fulfill any video or graphic requests” regarding the person’s identity.
“First of all, we have no independent reporting that this is the guy, despite what some partisan sites are saying,” Kurtz continued. “Even if we did have independent reporting, I don’t see why the media should be baited into naming somebody because I think it violates the spirit of the Whistleblower Protection Act.”
Kurtz, a former Newsweek/The Daily Beast columnist, concluded by saying it is neither a pro- nor anti-Trump stance to believe media outlets shouldn’t be pushed into naming the whistleblower because “certain politicians don’t want to take the heat for identifying this person themselves.” At a raucous Trump campaign rally last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) called on the media to “print his name.”
While Hemingway, a fierce Trump booster, was the first Fox employee to break the network’s reported rule against naming the whistleblower, she wasn’t the first one to name him on Fox’s airwaves. During one daytime Fox segment last week, conservative radio host Lars Larson proudly named the suspected whistleblower on live TV.