It was the perfect pro-Trump story in a time of controversy over veterans.
On 8 October, Fox News published a video about John Garofalo, a multi-decorated Navy SEAL who had personally carved a ginormous — 4 foot, 150 pound — glass seal he wanted to give to President Donald Trump.
In the clip, Garofalo, 72, is reported to have received two Purple Hearts and about 22 commendations for his seven years of service in the Navy. He was reportedly listed twice in Vietnam as M.I.A.
“Garofalo is used to working under pressure,” Fox News reporter Bryan Llenas said. “The Vietnam War veteran served seven years as a member of the nation’s first Navy SEAL team. He was awarded 22 commendations, including two purple hearts.”
"You are a hero," Llenas tells him in praise. "True hero," another anchor repeats. "An amazing guy, I hope he gets to meet the president," says another one.
There's only one problem. The story is fake, as Garofalo himself admitted to NavyTimes.
It turns out the guy never served in Vietnam, was never a SEAL and didn't receive a Purple Heart:
“It got bigger and bigger," he said. “What I did I‘m ashamed of, and I didn’t mean to cause so much disgrace to the SEALs.”
Fox News was forced to run a correction last night:
So what's true in Garofalo's story? The 72-year-old served in the Navy from 1963 to 1967 as an aviation boatswain's mate, and was deployed for a while in Rota, Spain. He is also a talented glass artist who gifted two presidential seals to President Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.
Former and retired SEALs said they tried to contact Fox News about Garofalo's fake story but the network failed to correct it.
“Fox News not withdrawing that story has drove me nutty,” Don Shipley, a retired SEAL who's dedicated to finding fake military stories, told Navy Times.
He provided the website proof of Garofalo's real military service.
A Freedom of Information request shows "Naval Special Warfare Command having no records of Garofalo in the history of the elite units’ ranks," according to Navy Times.
In its apology, Fox News added:
Over the last two weeks, we've worked with Garofalo's family and the National Personnel Records Center to get to the bottom of a military past that Garofalo had claimed to be covert. We apologize to our viewers, especially veterans and servicemen and women.
UPDATE: Oct. 20, 2017, 3:49 p.m. BST Headline on the story changed from 'retracted' to 'corrected' to more accurately convey the action.