United States Attorney General William Barr talked to media mogul Rupert Murdoch about “muzzling” Fox News contributor Andrew Napolitano after the legal analyst made critical remarks about President Donald Trump, according to CNN media reporter Brian Stelter’s new book.
According to The Guardian, which obtained an advance copy of Stelter’s “Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth,” the president was “so incensed” by criticisms made by Napolitano in fall 2019 “that he had implored Barr to send Rupert a message in person … about ‘muzzling the judge.’ [Trump] wanted the nation’s top law enforcement official to convey just how atrocious Napolitano’s legal analysis had been.”
Barr delivered this message to Murdoch in a meeting that took place at Murdoch’s home in New York in October 2019, during which they discussed media consolidation and criminal justice reform, Stetler’s book says, according to The Guardian.
Stetler’s book said that Barr’s words to Murdoch “carried a lot of weight,” and though “no one was explicitly told to take Napolitano off the air,” according to The Guardian, Napolitano — a New Jersey superior court judge who joined Fox News in 1998 — lost his slot on a daytime show and was excluded from coverage of Trump’s impeachment earlier this year.
Napolitano was critical of Trump for, among other things, his dealings with Ukraine, writing in an October 2019 column, “The criminal behavior to which Trump has admitted is much more grave than anything alleged or unearthed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and much of what Mueller revealed was impeachable.”
Saturday evening, DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec responded to the claims in Stelter’s book, saying in a tweet, “This is false. A basic fact-check would have revealed that, but @brianstelter did not reach out to us before publishing.”
A spokesperson for Fox News did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
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