Fox News Apologizes for Featuring Veteran Who Lied About Being a Navy SEAL

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Earlier this month, Fox News featured a story about a highly decorated veteran: a Navy SEAL who had served in Vietnam, had earned two Purple Hearts and had hand-carved a presidential seal that he hoped to give to President Trump.
But on Thursday, the network issued a correction to the Oct. 8 segment about the veteran, John Garofalo, and said that “all” of his claims “turned out to be untrue.”
In the segment, Mr. Garofalo was identified as a member of the first Navy SEAL team, who had been awarded 22 commendations.
“The fact is that he did not serve in Vietnam,” Fox said in its statement.
“He was never a U.S. Navy SEAL,” it continued. “Even though he showed us medals, Garofalo was not awarded two Purple Hearts or any of the other nearly two dozen commendations he claimed to have received, except for the National Defense Service Medal.”
The statement concluded, “We apologize to our viewers, especially veterans and servicemen and women.” 
Fox published the correction only after Navy Times reported that Mr. Garofalo had fabricated his record, and had been falsely portraying himself as a SEAL and Vietnam War veteran for years.
“It got bigger and bigger,” Mr. Garofalo told Navy Times. “What I did I‘m ashamed of, and I didn’t mean to cause so much disgrace to the SEALs.” 
Mr. Garofalo did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Don Shipley, a retired SEAL who tracks down and reports those who fraudulently claim to have been part of the special operations force, said that an acquaintance contacted him after the segment aired and informed him that it had included a Vietnam veteran who was a SEAL.
“That is the first red flag that goes up,” Mr. Shipley said in an interview Friday, remarking on how few SEALs served in Vietnam. The first SEAL teams were created in the early 1960s, and few were deployed in the early years of the Vietnam War.
Mr. Shipley obtained Mr. Garofalo’s military records and discovered he was an impostor. He then contacted Mr. Garofalo directly and confronted him. Mr. Garofalo admitted that he had lied and said that he was going to contact Fox and ask for the story to be retracted.
But Fox did not retract the story, even after Mr. Shipley called the network himself to report what he had found. The segment was watched more than 1.5 million times on Facebook.
In its statement, Fox said that “over the last two weeks, we’ve worked with Garofalo’s family and the National Personnel Records Center to get to the bottom of a military past that Garofalo had claimed to be covert.”
A Fox spokeswoman said Friday morning that the story had been corrected online and on all social media platforms. An on-air correction was issued later on Friday.
Military records show that Mr. Garofalo served in the Navy. After graduating from basic training, he reported to a naval station in Virginia in 1963, and later served in Rota, Spain. He left the Navy in 1967.
His sole decoration was a National Defense Service Medal, which is awarded to any service member who serves honorably during a “national emergency,” including during the Vietnam War.

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