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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

 

"Ashamed" of the Fox "propaganda machine"

by Tom Sullivan

Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, a longtime Fox News analyst announced his departure in a letter calling out the network for harming democracy. Buzzfeed acquired the email Peters sent to colleagues. Peters signed off in Russian, accusing Fox of “wittingly harming our system of government for profit.”

Peters condemned the network for "assaulting our constitutional order and the rule of law, while fostering corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers."

Otherwise known as the business model for the full spectrum of conservative media.

Peters continued, "Over my decade with Fox, I long was proud of the association. Now I am ashamed."

The Los Angeles Times adds:

Peters' missive is the second time in a week Fox News' top-rated conservative opinion hosts have been subjected to internal criticism. While not nearly as harsh, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said in an interview with Time magazine that some of the network's opinion programming "is there strictly to be entertaining," which led to some blowback from Hannity and Ingraham on social media. (Hannity called Smith "clueless" about the reporting done on his program).

But Peters' remarks are noteworthy because as a Fox News national security analyst for 10 years, he has been a foreign policy hawk who frequently criticized the Obama administration. He was once suspended from the network for a week in 2015 after an appearance on the Fox Business Network in which he used a vulgar term to describe former President Obama's fortitude in combating terrorism by Islamic extremists.
The full text of the Peters letter is below. He did not spare the rod on some of the network's anchors:
On March 1st, I informed Fox that I would not renew my contract. The purpose of this message to all of you is twofold:

First, I must thank each of you for the cooperation and support you've shown me over the years. Those working off-camera, the bookers and producers, don't often get the recognition you deserve, but I want you to know that I have always appreciated the challenges you face and the skill with which you master them.

Second, I feel compelled to explain why I have to leave. 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.

In my view, 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. When prime-time hosts--who have never served our country in any capacity--dismiss facts and empirical reality to launch profoundly dishonest assaults on the FBI, the Justice Department, the courts, the intelligence community (in which I served) and, not least, a model public servant and genuine war hero such as Robert Mueller--all the while scaremongering with lurid warnings of "deep-state" machinations-- I cannot be part of the same organization, even at a remove. To me, Fox News is now wittingly harming our system of government for profit.

As a Russia analyst for many years, it also has appalled me that hosts who made their reputations as super-patriots and who, justifiably, savaged President Obama for his duplicitous folly with Putin, now advance Putin's agenda by making light of Russian penetration of our elections and the Trump campaign. Despite increasingly pathetic denials, it turns out that the "nothing-burger" has been covered with Russian dressing all along. And by the way: As an intelligence professional, I can tell you that the Steele dossier rings true--that's how the Russians do things.. The result is that we have an American president who is terrified of his counterpart in Moscow.

I do not apply the above criticisms in full to Fox Business, where numerous hosts retain a respect for facts and maintain a measure of integrity (nor is every host at Fox News a propaganda mouthpiece--some have shown courage). I have enjoyed and valued my relationship with Fox Business, and I will miss a number of hosts and staff members. You're the grown-ups.

Also, I deeply respect the hard-news reporters at Fox, who continue to do their best as talented professionals in a poisoned environment. These are some of the best men and women in the business..

So, to all of you: Thanks, and, as our president's favorite world leader would say, "Das vidanya."
Peters' resignation follows on the heels of Shepard Smith's aforementioned interview with Daniel D'Addario of Time in which he too took a shot at his network's infotainment programming:
Smith says he’s unbothered by the divergence between his reporting and Fox’s opinion slate. “We serve different masters. We work for different reporting chains, we have different rules. They don’t really have rules on the opinion side. They can say whatever they want. If it’s their opinion. I don’t really watch a lot of opinion programming. I’m busy.” He laughs, enigmatic punctuation that may indicate he’d been trying for a bon mot, or might just be a Mississippi-nice way of indicating he’s said what he’s going to say, bless my heart.
It is too soon to predict that Fox News may see an exodus resembling the West Wing's. The pay at Fox is too good and the capacity for shame too vestigial. But it couldn't happen to a more unworthy organization.

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