State Department Tears Into Fox News Over Hillary Clinton Comments

Hilary Clinton South Australia Speech - P 2013
Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

Hilary Clinton South Australia Speech - P 2013

In a wry letter, a department spokesperson said Justin Fishel's line of questioning was "simply a blatant lie and grossly misleading to the public."

State Department spokesperson Philippe Reines has issued a wry declaration of war on Fox News correspondent Justin Fishel.

In December, Fishel followed the lead of many conservative outlets in questioning the department's announcement that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had fallen and suffered a concussion that made her unable to testify about the September attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. "It seems that she has not been available to testify on the Benghazi situation on some very key dates, including the Sunday after 9/11 and now this Thursday," he said during a daily press briefing, echoing several other Fox commentators.

Fast-forward two weeks, and the news that Clinton was hospitalized for a blood clot in her brain has the department on the offensive against anyone who questioned its story. In a letter to Fishel, Reines feigned apology for having found Fishel's question in the transcript of the briefing.

"I just called them and read them the riot act for putting such misleading, accusatory and absolutely asinine words in your mouth," wrote Reines in a letter obtained by the Washington Post. "Because after what we and her doctors explained over the weekend regarding her health, you couldn’t possibly have been insinuating the ulterior motives that question implies. No way. No credible journalist would do that without any basis whatsoever.

"But even more so, I really went to bat for you with folks here and told them that while I know the media can often be incredibly self-involved, there is no way you, an informed reporter, would equate one’s testifying before the United States Congress – made up of duly elected Senators and Representatives empowered by Article I of our Constitution – with going on TV," the note continued. "I don’t know Chris Wallace all that well, but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t place his television show on par with one of the three branches of our government. And therefore, saying that this has happened on multiple ‘key dates’ is simply a blatant lie and grossly misleading to the public. Anyway, our sincere apologies. If you send us what you really said, I’ll make sure it’s properly reflected."

On Wednesday, Clinton was released from the hospital. Fishel has yet to publicly respond to the letter.