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FBI investigates hack of Fox News computers

By Jimmy Adeel
|
May 28, 2023

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is currently looking into what appears to be a cyberattack on Fox News computers. This incident may have led to the unauthorized acquisition and subsequent leaking of unaired footage and documents.

The leaked content includes footage from a Tucker Carlson interview with Kanye West, which found its way into a Vice News publication. Additionally, the left-leaning Media Matters for America posted a series of leaked videos, as reported by the Daily Mail.

The Investigation

A letter obtained by the Daily Mail reveals that the FBI's probe centers around unauthorized computer intrusions and the interception of electronic communications by subjects unaffiliated with Fox News.

Interestingly, it also states that neither Vice News nor Media Matters for America is implicated in any wrongdoing in connection to the case.

The stolen material, according to the prosecutor, includes unaired footage from an interview with Kanye West conducted by former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who was terminated from his role in April.

As part of its investigation, the FBI searched the residence of media consultant Tim Burke and his wife, Tampa City Council member Lynn Hurtak. The search was carried out earlier this month, as the Tampa Bay Times reported, citing sources familiar with the investigation.

The Unaired Clips

In October, Vice News published several clips from the unaired Carlson-West interview in an article titled "Watch the Disturbing Kanye Interview Clips That Tucker Carlson Didn't Put on Air.” The controversial clips show West making anti-Semitic remarks and bizarre claims about “fake children” supposedly implanted in his home. The interview was aired several weeks before West, who has legally changed his name to Ye, was banned from Twitter and widely criticized for a rant professing his admiration for Adolf Hitler and his “love” of Nazis.

Leaks by Media Matters

In a separate incident, Media Matters posted a series of off-air clips of Carlson under the title "FOXLEAKS" following his firing from Fox News. These clips include Carlson making jokes about “post-menopausal fans” and referring to a lawyer for Dominion as a “slimy little motherf***er.”

Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters, defended the publication of these materials, stating that reporting on newsworthy leaked material is a cornerstone of journalism.

Impact and Repercussions

Following these leaks, the Justice Department has remained silent on the issue, while Fox News has declined to comment. Tim Burke, whose home was searched as part of the FBI's investigation, hasn't been accused of any criminal activity.

Although the warrant application for Burke's home hasn't been made public, the issuing of a warrant doesn't necessarily guarantee criminal charges.

Lynn Hurtak, Burke's wife, stated that the FBI's search was solely related to her husband's professional pursuits as a journalist.

Burke, who also manages a media and political consulting company called Burke Communications, has worked as a journalist for various news websites, including Deadspin and the Daily Beast.

Fox News Response

Earlier this month, Fox News issued a legal letter to Media Matters, requesting the outlet to cease the publication of unaired footage in their FOXLEAKS series. The letter, however, doesn't address how the footage may have been leaked.

The letter stated, “Fox did not consent to its distribution or publication … [and] does not consent to its further distribution or publication,” NewYork Post reported.

Despite Fox New's request, Media Matters has publicly refused to comply, insisting on their right to cover newsworthy leaked materials. The organization intends to persist in this vein, arguing that it is an essential function of journalistic duty.