Fox News has reportedly banned analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano from appearing on air after the commentator controversially claimed the United Kingdom helped former President Barack Obama spy on President Donald Trump ahead of the 2016 election.
Napolitano’s suspension, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, comes amid ongoing fallout over Trump’s repeated but unsupported claims that Obama wiretapped his phones at Trump Tower. The Fox News analyst added a twist to the story by claiming on March 14’s episode of Fox & Friends that “three intelligence sources have informed Fox News” that British intelligence agency GCHQ helped Obama carry out the alleged surveillance. Napolitano repeated this assertion in a March 16 column for FoxNews.com.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer read Napolitano’s on-air claim verbatim during the March 17 press briefing in response to the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee leadership’s announcement that they found “no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016.”
While Napolitano’s use of anonymous sources is not notable—many outlets use unnamed sources—the veracity of his claim is. After the British government called Napolitano’s claim “ridiculous” and “nonsense,” Fox News anchor Shepherd Smith on Friday refuted the former judge’s reporting. “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 stood by his claim on Sunday’s MediaBuzz program, saying he “accurately” reported what his sources told him, “and I do believe the substance of what they told me.”
Napolitano’s absence became notable on Monday during the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, an event Fox News covered heavily and for which Napolitano’s judicial analysis would ordinarily play a significant role.
Read the full report at the Los Angeles Times.