Max Boot: One pundit’s revolt against Fox News
Ralph Peters is about as far removed from a liberal “snowflake” as you can imagine.
A retired Army lieutenant colonel and prolific (and gifted) novelist, he is to the right of right.
He has advocated a first strike on North Korea, called President Barack Obama the “reincarnation of Pontius Pilate” and suggested, in the wake of the Benghazi attacks, that if “they kill four of ours, we⅜kill 400 of theirs.”
So it says a lot that Peters has quit as a paid commentator at Fox News because he cannot stomach what the network has become.
His problem is not that Fox is too conservative. It’s that, as he wrote in a scorching resignation letter, “Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration.”
Peters went on: “Four decades ago, I took an oath as a newly commissioned officer. I swore to ‘support and defend the Constitution,’ and that oath did not expire when I took off my uniform. Today, I feel that Fox News is assaulting our constitutional order and the rule of law, while fostering corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers. Over my decade with Fox, I long was proud of the association. Now I am ashamed.”
It’s not hard to see why.
Fox has turned itself into the American version of RT, Vladimir Putin’s propaganda TV. Not only does Fox usually go to great lengths to avoid criticizing President Donald Trump, it also regularly peddles insidious conspiracy theories on his behalf.
To try to undermine the “incontrovertible” evidence that the Russians hacked into the Democratic National Committee, for example, Fox hosts pinned the blame on DNC staffer Seth Rich, even claiming that his murder — ascribed by D.C. police to a botched robbery — was the work of Democrats.
Fox had to retract the story.
The Rich hoax is only the tip of Fox News’ conspiratorial iceberg.
It has also pushed claims that Obama wasn’t born in America, that ObamaCare would create “death panels,” that Hillary Clinton sold America’s uranium to Russia and that a “deep state” is plotting against Trump.
Fox also has taken the lead in smearing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a war hero and prosecutor of unimpeachable integrity, and called for his investigation of Trump to be terminated.
What makes Fox’s ravings so scary is that they are not just influencing the public, but influencing the president, too. Matthew Gertz of Media Matters for America found a feedback loop between Trump and the TV personalities he watches so faithfully.
Many of the president’s deranged tweets — e.g., his claims that his “nuclear button” is “much bigger & more powerful” than Kim Jong Un’s, and that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin should be imprisoned — are lifted straight from Fox.
Years ago, I thought Fox performed a harmless service by publicizing conservative ideas.
Today, its worldview has little to do with conservatism and everything to do with populism and white nationalism.
The wonder is that there aren’t more commentators like Peters with the integrity to resign in protest.
Max Boot is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.