The Marine Corps worked behind the scenes last month in an attempt to convince Fox News to retract its false story claiming a Gold Star family was forced to pay $60,000 to ship the remains of a Marine killed in Afghanistan, according to emails obtained by Military.com.
A service spokesman notified the news network that it was pushing an incorrect story and accused it of using the grief of fallen Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee's family to draw in readers, the email exchanges, released through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request, show. Fox News eventually deleted the story with no correction, and it never reached out to the Gee family with an apology as the Marine Corps requested, the family said.
The Fox News story came from Republican Rep. Cory Mills, a freshman congressman from Florida, who claimed Gee's next of kin were strapped with the $60,000 charge after a meeting with the families of Abbey Gate bombing victims, a suicide attack where 13 service members were killed outside of the Kabul airport in 2021.
Gee's family never paid a dollar to transport her remains, and the Marine Corps let Fox News know -- in no uncertain terms -- that the July 25 story was false in a series of emails over the following days.
"This headline correction is still misleading and your story is still false," Maj. James Stenger, the lead spokesperson for the Marine Corps, wrote to Fox News in an email after the publication changed the headline and body of the story in an attempt to soften the accusation.
"Using the grief of a family member of a fallen Marine to score cheap clickbait points is disgusting," Stenger wrote. The spokesman was one of several military officials frustrated with the story, according to the documents.
Fox News apologized Saturday to a Gold Star family for publishing a false story last month claiming that the family had to pay $60,000 to ship the remains of their fallen relative back from Afghanistan because the Pentagon refused to pay.
“The now unpublished story has been addressed internally and we sincerely apologize to the Gee family,” a Fox News spokesperson said in a statement, referencing the family of fallen Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee, who was one of 13 service members killed in a terror attack at the Kabul airport in 2021 while assisting with US withdrawal efforts.
Deleting an entire story is exceedingly rare in news media and is seen as a last-ditch measure if the entire premise of the article is incorrect. Deleting a story without offering readers an explanation or correction is widely considered to be unethical.