by Sharon Rondeau

(Mar. 28, 2016) — At approximately 7:20 a.m. EDT on Monday morning’s Fox & Friends, co-anchor Ainsley Earhardt incorrectly reported that presidential candidate Ted Cruz has accused fellow candidate Donald Trump of planting a “tabloid” story about Cruz’s wife published in the National Enquirer last week.

Following her statement, a video of Cruz stating that the claims are “garbage” was shown.

However, the controversy which began on Thursday, while accusing Trump of having launched it through the National Enquirer, concerns allegations of infidelity on Cruz’s part, perhaps over a number of years, not Cruz’s wife.

A commercial break ensued, after which headlines were read by Heather Childers and Trump was brought on by phone as a guest.

The first topic discussed was the birth of another Trump grandchild to his daughter, Ivanka, on Easter Sunday.  The subject then changed to national security and foreign policy, including Trump’s view that NATO is “obsolete.”  “It should be readjusted and changed…” Trump told anchors Brian Kilmeade, Earhardt, and stand-in for Steve Doocy, Pete Hegseth.

On Sunday, former Trump adviser Roger Stone appeared on a radio show wherein he denied the accusation that he and Trump had initiated the National Enquirer article about Cruz.  Stone had heard of the story and characterized it as “largely true” and the reason that he believes Cruz will not file a lawsuit against the Enquirer.

Stone had previously interviewed with Alex Jones of “Infowars,” stating that a Republican plan had been devised to deny Trump the nomination and to defeat him in the primaries, which has been openly acknowledged by several parties, including The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol.

At 7:40, Hegseth asked Trump why he had initiated a “National Enquirer” story having to do with Cruz’s wife, but the photo in question of Cruz’s wife, Heidi, was not published in the magazine.  That incident had to do with barbs exchanged between Trump and Cruz regarding their respective wives prior to the publication of the NE story.

At 7:42, Kilmeade invoked the actual NE story involving Cruz claiming he “has five mistresses.”  The clip of Cruz describing the allegations as a smear against his family and “garbage” was again played.

Kilmeade did not clarify that he was correcting Earhardt’s previous inaccurate statement, perhaps made from reading an erroneous prompter message.

When the “wife” feud began, Trump asserted on Twitter that the Cruz campaign purchased the rights to at least one photo of his wife, Melania, when she was a supermodel, originally published by GQ in 2000.  A political action committee supportive of Cruz then produced an ad using the photo prior to the Utah caucuses suggesting that Utah voters support Cruz over Trump so that Melania would not be “your next first lady.”

Cruz reacted vehemently to Trump’s claim that he was somehow involved in producing the advertisement and denied it, after which Trump repeated his mantra that Cruz is a liar and that if he did not stop lying, Trump would “spill the beans on your wife.”

Trump then told Kilmeade, “I had nothing to do with that story,” meaning the NE article, referencing a Daily Beast column which pointed to “allies” of the Marco Rubio campaign as the source of the information on Cruz.

On Friday, a Washington Times columnist, Drew Johnson, was terminated after claiming to have had some knowledge of the allegations against Cruz and asserting that they are accurate, at least in part.  In response to inquiries made through Twitter, The Times attempted to say that Johnson had not been associated with them for “over a year.”

“Frankly, I hope it’s not true,” Trump said of the Cruz allegations, “because it’s pretty bad.”

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