Fox News has denied a CNN report that it shelved a story about a sexual relationship between adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, a.k.a. Stormy Daniels, and Donald Trump before the 2016 election.
Citing four anonymous sources “familiar with the matter,” CNN reported Tuesday that Fox reporter Diana Falzone filed a story in October 2016 about a sexual relationship between Clifford and Trump that included an on-the-record statement from Clifford’s then-manager, Gina Rodriguez (who is not connected to the “Jane the Virgin” star of the same name).
According to CNN’s insiders, Falzone saw emails about a settlement between Clifford and Trump to keep her quiet about the affair.
“Like many other outlets, we were working to report the story of Stephanie Clifford’s account in October 2016 about then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump and a possible payment by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen,” Noah Kotch, editor-in-chief and vice president of Fox News Digital said in a statement provided to TheWrap. “In doing our due diligence, we were unable to verify all of the facts and publish a story.”
The Daily Beast and Slate reporters have said that they, too, were speaking with Clifford leading up to the election. Attorney Keith Davidson — who represents Clifford — told CNN he was unaware that she or her former manager ever spoke to reporters about a story.
Falzone did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment. She filed a lawsuit against her employer in May 2017, claiming that she was demoted after publishing a story about her struggle with endometriosis. Her attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, also represents Fox News veteran Gretchen Carlson. Fox denied the claim and the lawsuit is ongoing.
On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen arranged a $130,000 settlement with Clifford “as part of an agreement that precluded her from publicly discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump.”
“My involvement with Donald Trump was limited to a few public appearances and nothing more,” Clifford said in a statement that was provided to CNN by Cohen — Trump’s lawyer.
“When I met Donald Trump, he was gracious, professional and a complete gentleman to me and EVERYONE in my presence. Rumors that I have received hush money from Donald Trump are completely false. If indeed I did have a relationship with Donald Trump, trust me, you wouldn’t be reading about in the news, you would be reading about it in my book. But the fact of the matter is, these stories are not true.”
“These rumors have circulated time and again since 2011,” Cohen told CNN, adding that “President Trump once again vehemently denies any such occurrence as has Ms. Daniels.”
The White House’s official statement on the settlement claim is that “these are old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election,” a spokesperson told WSJ.