KindaKath / Flickr fox news billboard...
KindaKath / Flickr

Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer who was a Fox News commentator for a decade. Ten days ago he declined to renew his contract with Fox, not only closing that door but slamming it off the hinges with an impassioned internal memo which was leaked, decrying the network as a propaganda machine and saying that Peters was ashamed to be there. He’s not a rat leaving the ship, he made clear, rather, “the best sailors were driven overboard by the rodents.”  Peters elaborates on the Trump Russia probe in an illuminating op ed piece today at the Washington Post:

I was the one person on the Fox payroll who, trained in Russian studies and the Russian language, had been face to face with Russian intelligence officers in the Kremlin and in far-flung provinces. I have traveled widely in and written extensively about the region. Yet I could only rarely and briefly comment on the paramount security question of our time: whether Putin and his security services ensnared the man who would become our president. Trump’s behavior patterns and evident weaknesses (financial entanglements, lack of self-control and sense of sexual entitlement) would have made him an ideal blackmail target — and the Russian security apparatus plays a long game.

As indictments piled up, though, I could not even discuss the mechanics of how the Russians work on either Fox News or Fox Business. […]

All Americans, whatever their politics, should want to know, with certainty, whether a hostile power has our president and those close to him in thrall. This isn’t about party but about our security at the most profound level. Every so often, I could work in a comment on the air, but even the best-disposed hosts were wary of transgressing the party line.

Fox never tried to put words in my mouth, nor was I told explicitly that I was taboo on Trump-Putin matters. I simply was no longer called on for topics central to my expertise. I was relegated to Groundhog Day analysis of North Korea and the Middle East, or to Russia-related news that didn’t touch the administration. Listening to political hacks with no knowledge of things Russian tell the vast Fox audience that the special counsel’s investigation was a “witch hunt,” while I could not respond, became too much to bear. There is indeed a witch hunt, and it’s led by Fox against Robert Mueller.

Peters also said this about the deterioration of the network in recent years:

You could measure the decline of Fox News by the drop in the quality of guests waiting in the green room. A year and a half ago, you might have heard George Will discussing policy with a senator while a former Cabinet member listened in. Today, you would meet a Republican commissar with a steakhouse waistline and an eager young woman wearing too little fabric and too much makeup, immersed in memorizing her talking points.

The editorial is lengthy, covers a number of topics and is worth the read.

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