Fox News on Wednesday deleted an out-of-context tweet targeting Jake Tapper, but that didn't stop Sean Hannity and others from repeating the discredited smear.
In the wake of reports that New York City terror attack suspect Sayfullo Saipov yelled "Allahu akbar" after allegedly killing eight people in a car attack in lower Manhattan, the CNN host and Philadelphia native noted that terrorists have been co-opting the phrase, which translates as "God is great."
"The Arabic chant 'Allahu akbar,' 'God is great,' sometimes is said under the most beautiful of circumstances. And too often, we hear it being said in moments like this," Tapper said on Tuesday's The Lead.
Tapper's comments were twisted by conservative websites like the Daily Caller and Breitbart, and mentioned on the conspiracy-theory-peddling website Info Wars, before ending up in an article on Fox News Insider with the misleading headline, "CNN's Jake Tapper: 'Allahu Akbar' Can Be Said Under 'Most Beautiful' of Circumstances." The headline was preceded by a red, all-caps label: "OUTRAGEOUS."
The Fox News Twitter account tweeted "@CNN's Jake Tapper Says 'Allahu Akbar' Is 'Beautiful' Right After NYC Terror Attack" and linked to the article.
Former U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, now a Fox News contributor, mocked Tapper's comments on The Five, saying Tapper had sought to tell viewers "how beautiful the phrase 'Allahu akbar' can be."
Tapper responded by blasting Fox News on Twitter, accusing the network of "lying" and claiming it followed a "slime-coated path" paved by other right-wing outlets.
"'Allahu akbar' is a prayer; if we don't understand how radical Islamic terrorists justify their evil using religion, West cannot defeat it," Tapper wrote on Twitter Wednesday evening. "There was a time when one could tell the difference between Fox and the nutjobs at Infowars. It's getting tougher and tougher. Lies are lies."
In 2009, Tapper (then a White House correspondent for ABC News) defended Fox News after the Obama administration claimed the network was "not a news organization," even referring to it as a "sister" organization.
After Tapper's criticism, Fox News deleted the tweet and re-wrote the headline on its online story. Chaffetz apologized for his comments.
Later Wednesday evening, Sean Hannity reignited the incident and dubbed Tapper "liberal fake news CNN's fake Jake Tapper" before picking up the same discredited take on the CNN host's comments.
"Hey Jake, maybe that's why you have low ratings," Hannity responded. "Tell your audience the truth."
Hannity wasn't done. Later in his show, fired Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka questioned Tapper's motivation while mischaracterizing what the CNN host said.
"What kind of mind goes on live TV as seven bodies and a child lie in the street and then talks about the beautiful phrase 'Allahu akbar?'" Gorka asked. "Where does that motivation come from for Jake Tapper?"
It didn't take long for Tapper to weigh in on Hannity's comments.
"Hannity lying now. The @FoxNews tweet I was referring to has been deleted because it was false," Tapper tweeted following Hannity's segment before bringing up a sore spot for the popular Fox News host — Hannity's continued pushing of a debunked conspiracy theory involving the death of a former DNC staffer.