It’s a controversial decision — and it’s something mainstream media outlets like CNN could learn a thing or two from.
According to insiders, Fox News Channel has pulled star anchor Judge Andrew Napolitano from the air after his controversial on-air claim that British intelligence officials had helped former President Barack Obama spy on Donald Trump.
But the move has some conservatives crying foul — and calling for Shepard Smith to resign instead.
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Insiders say, however, there are no reported plans to return Napolitano to the airwaves in the near future.
A person with knowledge of the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because it was a personnel matter, said Napolitano has been benched and won’t be appearing on the air in the near future.
Fox had no immediate comment Monday.
Napolitano’s report last week on “Fox & Friends,” saying he had three intelligence sources who said Obama went “outside the chain of command” to watch Trump, provoked an international incident. Britain dismissed the report as “nonsense.”
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To his credit, Trump has also backed off the claim. The president continues to hint there is more to his claims that Obama wiretapped him at Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign than the mainstream media is reporting on, however, and has cited his access to highly classified intelligence.
The president, when asked about the incident, said that “all we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it. You shouldn’t be talking to me. You should be talking to Fox.”
Fox’s Shepard Smith, on the air Friday afternoon, quickly stepped the network away from Napolitano’s claim.
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“Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-president of the United States was surveilled at any time, in any way,” Smith said.
Napolitano is a senior judicial analyst who has worked at Fox News Channel since 1998, and frequently comments on the Fox Business Network. He was a New Jersey Superior Court judge from 1987 to 1995.
The Associated Press contributed to this article