A tweet sent recently generated quite a stir when it suggested that federal employees at the Food and Drug Administration in Silver Spring, MD were being required by the Trump administration to keep TVs at the facility tuned to Fox News.
The tweet was sent on May 5 by journalist Paul Thacker (a copy of it is included below) which purported to show a copy of an internal email sent by a customer service representative from the FDA office.
— Paul Thacker (@thackerpd) May 5, 2017
Other news outlets and websites picked up on the story, along with people discussing it on social media. Tweets such as these began appearing en masse:
@thackerpd Shouldn’t they just turn any news source off for impartiality?
— Adrienne (@govcore) May 5, 2017
— Rick LeBeau (@rick_lebeau) May 5, 2017
@thackerpd @Shakestweetz So now the White House can dictate to Federal agencies what news programs it is and isn’t allowed to have on?
— Grace Hill (@KGraceHill) May 5, 2017
President Trump has been critical of the mainstream media, referring to some news outlets as “fake media” and “fake news.” He has, however, offered praise to Fox News, so the story led to speculation that the Trump administration issued a directive to make the switch to the TVs inside of this FDA facility.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 6, 2017
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
So was a directive actually issued to require TVs at FDA’s White Oak campus to be tuned to Fox News as the original email suggested?
According to the FDA, no such directive came from the Trump administration.
Erik Wemple, a blogger with the Washington Post, was told by the FDA, “There was no directive or memorandum from the Administration that went out to employees about broadcast news channels displaying on monitors in common areas throughout the FDA’s White Oak campus.”
The Hill reported that another official with the FDA told the Washington Post that the memo had come from a customer service representative from the FDA’s Office of Facilities, not Trump administration higher-ups as the original message claimed.
Is that the end of the story?
That depends on who you ask. The FDA says no directives were issued, but Wemple clearly remained skeptical.
“And this customer service representative, we’re asked to believe, was somehow mistaken about the agency’s channel dictates?,” he wrote.
He went on to cite an unnamed source who says as of May 5 that the TVs still were tuned to Fox News.