Ronn Blitzer, no relation to Wolf.

Fox News Quotes a Former Congresswoman to say DOJ Target is Guilty, Doesn’t Disclose Same Source was former DOJ Spokeswoman

  • FoxNews misleads viewers by claiming a Congresswoman is current, not former, in order to smear Matt Gaetz
  • FoxNews misrepresents a source by failing to note that the same former Congresswoman, Barbara Comstock, was also the former Spokeswoman for the DOJ
  • Presenting a source as fair and balanced when they are extremely biased and inappropriate for the story is bad journalism

OUR RATING: Major Negligence. MSNBC-level basic journalistic negligence

Indicted Outlet: Ronn Blitzer | Fox News | Link | Archive

The basic rundown on the Matt Gaetz scandal right now is that he is being accused of paying for a flight of a 17 year old across state lines for sex, and Gaetz has responded by denying all the sex, and saying he and his family are being blackmailed for $25 million by a former DOJ official in league with current DOJ officials. [1]

Recently one of the people Gaetz accused of shaking him down for money has admitted that he indeed, did ask for money from Gaetz to bizarrely help free an alleged US spy in Iran. [2] But in reporting about the Gaetz accusations of a DOJ-led shakedown of a Congressman, Ronn Blitzer at Fox News briefly mentions a source and importantly misidentifies her as a current Congresswoman, and also fails to note that she previously worked for the Department of Justice.

This mistake, early in the life of the story, helps set a narrative against Rep. Gaetz, based on the opinion not of a colleague, but of an extremely biased source.

Major Violations:

  • Bad Sources
  • Misrepresenting a Source

Here’s the most suspicious quote in Ronn Blitzer’s story at Fox News:

“Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., pushed for Gaetz’s removal from Congress after the Justice Department’s investigation became public knowledge.”

Yet, Barbara Comstock is not a current Congresswoman from Virginia. Her term ended in 2014. [3]

Comstock was also the former Director of Public Affairs for the Department of Justice. [4]

The idea that current Representative Matt Gaetz should be expelled from Congress merely because he is under investigation by the Department of Justice, takes a lot less weight when you learn that the primary legislator pushing for it is 1) a former legislator out of office for 7 years, and 2) the former spokeswoman for the Department of Justice.

You might be tempted to forgive reporter Blitzer as either a new reporter at Fox News or as someone without the investigatory skills to qualify a source like this, but neither would be true. Blitzer spent several years as the Senior Editor of a Law and Crime blog. Blitzer has his law degree from Cornell and has been a lawyer for around 13 years according to his LinkedIn profile. [5] He knows better.

As things have developed, it seems the bad actor was a little-known Florida tax collector under investigation who is apparently cooperating with federal authorities: Joel Greenberg.[6] 

This fits a particular DOJ pattern: they find someone to overcharge with felonies, putting them under enormous pressure, ensuring their cooperation, in order to target the Department’s political opponents. But it also means that the evidence and testimony of the cooperating witness is extremely unreliable, and extremely suspect. They have an enormous incentive to lie in order to please their new prosecutorial masters: the Department of Justice. Part of the DOJ playbook in this situation also includes demonizing its subjects and political targets with a pliant media.

When the federal government maligns and accuses anyone, especially a sitting Congressman, any responsible journalist should be very careful with sources and stories. Ronn Blitzer was not just careless and sloppy, he was amazingly negligent.

Ronn Blitzer is being extremely dishonest in his reporting, and reporting with a quote like this without disclosing their obvious bias is major negligence.

OUR RATING: Major Negligence. MSNBC-level basic journalistic negligence


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