Fox And Its Friends

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post have reported the acrimonious departure of Fox News commentator and author Ralph Peters from that cable channel. As the Post described the resignation,

Commentator and author Ralph Peters isn’t just closing the door on his career at Fox News Channel. He’s slamming it right off the hinges.

In a blistering goodbye email, Peters, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who commented on military affairs, called Fox “a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration.” He described President Trump as being “terrified” of Russian president Vladi­mir Putin.

Peters accused Fox of assaulting America’s constitutional order, undermining the rule of law, and “fostering corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers.”

Peters had been associated with Fox for ten years, and it’s hard not to wonder what took him so long to recognize the cable channel’s business plan, which has always depended upon pandering to the biases of conservative viewers, no matter how much that required doing violence to accurate reporting–but I suppose it’s better late than never.

Although Peters didn’t use the word “treason” in the blistering email he sent to the organization, the implication was hard to ignore.

When prime-time hosts — who have never served our country in any capacity — dismiss facts and empirical reality to launch profoundly dishonest attacks 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.

Previously during his ten-year stint as a Fox commentator,  Peters said that his producers had never given him a script, or instructed him what to say. In the past year, however, as questions  about the possibility of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia continued to gain salience, Fox refused to let him comment on the topic, despite the fact that he has considerable relevant expertise. (He was a former intelligence officer.)

There has been a good deal of research by political scientists into the operation of “confirmation bias”–a very human trait we all share to some degree. Fox–along with talk radio demagogues and outlets like Breitbart and InfoWars–intentionally feeds conservatives’ desire to see their beliefs confirmed by “news.” (At the other end of the spectrum, “Addicting Info,” “Occupy” and others provide similar grist for liberal true believers, but research suggests that their influence pales in comparison with Fox.)

Here in a nutshell (no pun intended) is the dilemma of a liberal democracy committed to the principle of free speech. The marketplace of ideas must be open to all–ideologues and cranks as well as thoughtful commentators and accurate journalists. That means the consumers in that marketplace must be discriminating, in the best sense of that word. They must be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. And in a country where civic and news literacy are low, consumers are more likely to “buy” substandard or counterfeit  products.

I’m glad Peters finally figured out that Fox cares more about profit than patriotism, more about ratings than reality. Somehow, however, I doubt that his departure will prompt many loyal viewers to change the channel.  Confirmation bias may be more addictive than cocaine.


  1. Fox Noise will most likely make false statements about the character of Peters in order to assure their viewers that they should continue to watch Fox for the most accurate and up-to-date “news” available. Their gullible viewers will never abandon them.

  2. In a country where our government spends astronomical dollars on war and surveillance versus educating its people, we can’t expect the consumers to be “discriminating.”

    Once again, look at the intelligence of our lawmakers who are bought by the billionaires and corporations to do their bidding. Look at the intelligence of our POTUS and his cabinet.

    Our government was formed to serve us, but it doesn’t. Our press was formed to serve us, but it doesn’t. There inlies ALL the problems.

    Capitalism has consumed the government. If the masses knew the truth, they’d storm the capitols across the country and in Washington. Instead, they turn on the TV or read their local newspaper and call themselves informed.

    When the people are oppressed, do we blame the people for being victims or the oppressors?

    Fox is one of many propaganda tools used by the oppressors to keep the focus off of them and on each other in a fancy game of divide and conquer. MSNBC is not much better than Fox because they just blame Republicans.

    I can tell who on this blog watches MSNBC and Fox and calls themselves informed. Can’t you?

  3. Where has Peters been all these years? Big Deal. He’s finally putting his intelligence background to good use. He’s only quitting to save his own neck, before the “Good ship Trump goes under.”

  4. Over the past couple of days there has been much news attention to the leaking of the presidential briefing papers. I do not know who could have done the leaking, but I do know that at least one person in the White House has a conscience. As for Fox and the departure of Peters, let’s hope his display of conscience is not the last we see from that den of liars.

  5. Only after 10 years,eh? He sure cashed a lot of checks from Fox during the previous years. It’s interesting that OWS is used as an example for “liberal extremism” which is BS. There is no liberal extremism. We will never have a united front against the status quo because the “gatekeepers” do not want one to flourish without the imprimatur of the establishment/donor/executive class. That’s why there’s a McResistance. It’s harmless and will accomplish nothing beyond placating those needing their dose of “confirmation bias” to be satiated. Moreover, to show that we’re “serious”, we’ve gotta keep hippie punching. Once the genuine left has been disenfranchised,the new Democrats can do what is need to keep neoliberalism afloat and eating away at everything within its path via the Democratic Party.

    Yup,wanting to see universal healthcare come to fruition in this country and to call out–and to protest–the malfeasance of Wall St. is not only gauche,but oh so extreme. It’s much better if the plebes die off and continue to bankrupt themselves wrt healthcare issues. We cannot have our insurance executives suffer any indignities–like having to send their children to PUBLIC SCHOOLS because they no longer can afford the exclusive private schools for their offspring. The horror!!! Now that’s Deplorable!!

    The way some attitudes are moving,next thing ya know,protesting the elevated age for collecting Social Security will be looked upon as an act of obstruction and extremism. They’ll probably raise it to 85 yrs of age and the Democrats will enthusiastically support it. Of course anyone protesting will be looked upon in askance vehemently by those that can afford to retire at 60 or even 55 yrs of age–nevermind the multimillionaire former politicians receiving a comfortable retirement income from the government. That’s our country and political environs today.

  6. Fox News viewers are primarily comprised of staunch Republicans; their loyalty to their news source is as staunch as to their party…they cannot be pried from their views in either case. My few brief sorties to that channel (in rare attempts to be fair) have left me stunned and open mouthed.

    The Indianapolis Star is a printed “news source” comparable to Fox News; their lies are not as blatant but rely on the “lies by omission” level. The daily free sample of the super condensed version of USA Today; our Star source for national and international news, provides almost non-existent information in both areas. Fox News not allowing Peters to speak on anything Trump and Russian related is a wise decision to maintain their staunch Republican base support. The Indianapolis Star has moved in the opposite direction by allowing their cartoonist, Gary Varvel, to post actual comments as their periodical “guest columnist”. His views are so far to the right – and so far off target – regarding anything considered to be news that I fear he will soon fall off the edge of his flat earth positions on any and everything political. I do hope his unfunny cartoons follow him over the edge. Maybe he can replace Peters at Fox News. I consider dropping my subscription but rely on the obituaries, the daily crossword puzzles and the TV Week magazine; a bit expensive but the only option in town.

    We really have no choice here; Republican, Democratic or Independent, but to rely on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN for anything resembling political, national and international news because our available printed news is vacuous and primarily lacks information in format and content. Local news is sorely lacking in print or on air; we are kept in the dark at all levels. What do people do for news who do not subscribe to cable? What percentage of them comprise the Republican party and the Trump supporters? They don’t even have “Fox And Its Friends” for misinformation.

  7. interesting that one of the major owners of FOX is a Saudi Sheikh… look it up…

  8. He described President Trump as being “terrified” of Russian president Vladi­mir Putin.
    … now that’s the funniest thing I’ve read all week.

  9. His mention of Putin is just a dog whistle signalling to those among the cognoscenti that he is in full support of the New Cold War. His faux indignation is to keep himself among the good graces of those willing to give him a cushy place within some MIC supported thinktank.

  10. Todd,

    Re: “Fox is one of many propaganda tools used by the oppressors to keep the focus off of them and on each other in a fancy game of divide and conquer. MSNBC is not much better than Fox because they just blame Republicans.

    I can tell who on this blog watches MSNBC and Fox and calls themselves informed. Can’t you?”

    Agreed. I have trouble watching MSNBC because of their omission of facts, spin, and as you say “just blame the Republicans”. For example, while I deplore Trump, including his coziness (at a minimum) with Russia, our Presidents, including Obama, have a long history of reciprocally congratulating Russian leaders on their electoral victories.

    And I agree with Bernie that we need to stop talking about Russia and Trump’s past sexual escapades which MSNBC and CNN focus on wire to wire. I would add berating FOX news accomplishes nothing.

  11. “I’m glad Peters finally figured out that Fox cares more about profit than patriotism, more about ratings than reality. Somehow, however, I doubt that his departure will prompt many loyal viewers to change the channel. Confirmation bias may be more addictive than cocaine.”

    In reading “The Loudest Voice in the Room”, one will discover that Roger Ailes is the culprit behind Fox News. His “creation” had nothing to do with personal profit as much as it did to salve his massive ego. Ailes was a hemophiliac and was abused as a child. He received his journalism degree from Ohio University – A Scripps-Howard sponsored program, and an excellent program. Lester Holt of NBC News is also a graduate of that program.

    Roger Ailes operated WOUB in Athens when I attended Ohio University in the early 60s. If only I’d have known….

    Todd & William: I suggest you move to New Zealand. You’ll be much happier there.

  12. Yes, we do have to dig to get our facts straight, but then we always did. The “Star” has always bent too far to the right. Years ago we had the “Times” to counteract some of their bias. We occasionally got a well researched piece from the late, great Harrison Ullmann, when he edited “Nuvo”. Government documents are an original source for real information The Federal Registry is a great source, but it is very dense and is a guarantee for insomniacs looking for a good night’s sleep. If you need your facts nicely packaged, you’re not getting facts.

  13. In my travels in America, in the thousands of restaurants and clubs in which I have eaten or relaxed, I have never seen a television tuned to CNN, NPR or CNBC. They are always tuned to FOX. In my Florida home, when the TV is turned on, it automatically opens to FOX. That seems strange to me. It seems to fly in the face of business 101. If I owned a business that catered to the public, I would be careful not to have any of the patron or guest televisions tuned to anything that could be construed to have political or religious bias.

    Last Sunday, while eating breakfast, I was witness to management removing a patron, throwing the man out of the restaurant, because he was reading “Fire and Fury”. A half-hour later, when I paid my bill, the manager was still muttering hate for liberal “troublemakers”, as if it were a given that every patron, including me, was an alt-right adherent in perfect agreement with his bias. Apparently, management had encountered so few reasonable patrons that he felt he could safely make that presumption…or he has no sense of capitalist enterprise and simply survives in his business as a stroke of luck.

  14. Larry,

    When living in southern Illinois I was at a restaurant when they were installing a new TV. I was told that it had been provided to them by FOX.

  15. Vernon,

    “Todd & William: I suggest you move to New Zealand. You’ll be much happier there.”

    I understand your frustrations, but Todd & William are not the problem. There’s a good chance we have no answer to the potential catastrophe we’re facing. Understandably, you continue to hold on to the Democratic Party as an answer. However, like Todd & William I’ve lost all faith in that direction. If I had the funds, I probably might take your advice and look into a move to New Zealand.

  16. Marv,

    Well, you may be right, but in looking for an alternative source for changing the direction of our good ship America, I’m not inclined to accept any third-party movement as that force. So, where does that leave us?

    Will we just gnash our teeth, wring our hands and just vent our disgust? Are blogs like this just a kind of Fox News, but for people who think? I’m open to suggestions about where to send my energy.

  17. Larry,

    I’ve never sat in a doctor’s waiting room that didn’t have a TV set on the Fox channel. Some don’t have TV’s. Maybe this is the reason….. It’s Fox or nothing.

  18. Something (Donnelly and now Peters) is better than nothing, so I welcome Peters’s tardy conversion to patriotism over Fox’s profit making dependent upon its advertising revenues in exchange for pandering to the views of the right, but let’s not kid ourselves in order to soothe our biases – Fox and MSNBC are profit-making enterprises and their Nielsens have a lot to do with their bottom lines. They don’t have to actually believe what they are pedaling; they only have to pedal it. Much of the “news” is showtime in content, which stimulates Nielsens and bottom lines, but which, as Sheila suggests, places a burden upon us consumers to discriminate fact from fancy.

    We have always had propaganda in the news parading as fact, but it used to be more subtle than the blatant means both left and right employ these days which, paradoxically, suggests that we as consumers should have an easier time in ferreting out fact from Goebblespeak now than before. I am not sure our ability to discriminate has moved in tandem with the content offered by these pandering capitalists, probably because of our deep-seated prejudices and their seven-day-a-week massages either right or left. In the real world of profit-making, and after all, Nielsens are far more important than the garbage fed to the masses, so it is our responsibility to pick the real news out of the daily dump.

  19. If you are not moving to New Zealand, my recommended read is “The Constitution” by Paulsen and Paulsen. A lively and informed reader-friendly book. It also reminds us of other dark passages in our politics and nation’s history

  20. Peters was ever the harsh Obama critic because the money was so good at Fake Newz. Don’t know how or when his conscience kicked in, if it did, but Fake Newz will write him off as a disgruntled employee and make up some crap about him.

  21. LTC Ralph Peters use to be a very credible military/national security analyst and I have been in a loss for the last 10 years as to why he hooked up with Faux News to begin with. 35 years ago when we were at risk of being at strategic loggerheads with the then Soviet union he was a very important voice in the mix of voices that I listened to as I was studying this junk in school. I very likely still have articles penned by him in the boxes of photocopied articles used as source material for writing big papers on all this stuff that I’ve kept that clog up one of the closets in my home. I’m very glad that he’s left them and hope that he can resurrect his career as a commentator on these subjects because he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to that.

    I normally avoid Faux News like the plague but every once in a while as I’m flipping through the channels with my remote I would see him on whatever Faux show it was saying disparaging things about President Obama and a lot of other stuff that I thought was really out of his lane and, personally, off the beam. Years ago, I used to actually watch “Fox and Friends”, back when they seemed rational and engaging just like the hosts on MSNBC or CNN and also seemed to me to be credible. This was back in that 2006-2007 range where in some ways I thought their coverage of Hurricane Katrina was better than the others. Then they either drank the Kool Aid that Rupert Murdoch and the late Roger Ailes were pouring for them or they were getting massive amounts of moolah to distort reality as they have been ever since.

    I hope Ralph Peters, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, can restore his reputation and contribute once again to the dialogue that must occur regarding Russian behavior currently being poured on us and our fellow members of NATO located in Western Europe. If he’s not capable of doing that he needs to do what old soldiers are supposed to do, in the words of Douglas MacArthur, fade away.

  22. I am no fan of FOX, but I am equally repelled by MSDNC and CNN. MSDNC and CNN must have a prepared script everyday it will be one way or another about Trump. The Trumpet (aka Agent Orange) is the giant disco ball the Mc-Mega-Media cannot and will not take their collective eyes off of. The glittering disco ball of Trump averts our attention from the failures of American Capitalism for us proles.

    As I mentioned the other day the demise Toy R Us and the golden parachute given the executives vs no severance for 31,000 employees. This it would seem to be a great piece of journalism about life in America in the early 21st century – the execs get the gold mine and the employees get the shaft. 60 Minutes will have Stormy Daniels, instead.

    Claires, a fixture in malls which is described as tween jewelry and ear piercing retailer filed for bankruptcy. Claire’s made the move as it announced it was looking to restructure $1.9bn in debts it built up after being taken over by Apollo Global Management in 2007. Like Toys R Us, Claire’s was taken over by venture capital companies and saddled with huge debts. Those debts cost it $183m a year in interest payments alone.

    The other day OMG asked me about the end game of Marsh Stores here is link to > Supermarket CEO spent lavishly, trial reveals –

  23. I vehemently disagree that we are doomed.

    Everyday the threat becomes better defined, the details clarified. It’s less a conspiracy than a confluence of individual acts of greed by disconnected people who inadvertently helped each other be successful, typically wildly successful financially, at the existential expense of the nation.

    Now we know why the pundits were surprised by the 2016 election, there were many unquantified dark forces at work. Russia, Cambridge Anaytica, Bannon, Mercer, the Kochs, Ailes, Trump and Pence dragged along by their egos as the front (just like Bush II and Reagan were) the RNC complicit in their focus on win at all costs. There can be no doubt that the election was stolen from democracy.

    It turns out that the electorate is not as dumb as the results appeared but are not surprisingly susceptible to brain washing now that we are never out of reach from a tool of brainwashing.

    I would say that the election was absolutely illegal by the laws that we know now need to be written. The dilemma? Who now will write them? The beneficiaries of the crime or the victims?

    While there’s been these huge revelations lately the cure is the same. Mueller plus all Ds this year and ’20. We can do this in spite of the forces arrayed between us and the restoration of America.

  24. Vernon,

    “Marv, ….Will we just gnash our teeth, wring our hands and just vent our disgust? Are blogs like this just a kind of Fox News, but for people who think? I’m open to suggestions about where to send my energy.”

    Save your energy, enjoy your family. We haven’t learned a damn thing from the fate that fell upon Nazi Germany. We’re making the same strategic mistake that the pro-Democracy forces did, over and over.

    It’s a totally different story with the movement behind Donald Trump. I hate to say it, but the neo-Fascists have learned quite a bit and that’s why they have been so successful here in America.

  25. That should be the new Democratic Party mantra;

    Vote For The Democratic Party or Move To New Zealand! We Don’t Want/Need Your Kind!

    Kinda reminds me of those bumper stickers back in the day with the following:

    America! Love It Or Leave It!

  26. If you have HBO, Vice News is a good half hour of world news. I’ve been “taping it” for a couple of months and have enjoyed their journalism and the segments they cover. It leans left.

    BBC and BBC America is another great source of news for those of you that want to tune out Fox.

    I switched between CNN and MSNBC occasionally during the day when I need a break from chores but I can’t watch that garbage all day. I have a life. They pick a topic de jour and beat it to death.

    PBS has a nightly newshour that doesn’t suck too bad but I remember who supports them financially and try to take their coverage with a grain of salt.

    Then you have the whole world wide web out there and since all of us obviously have internet access, you can get information from anywhere you want and most of it is in English to boot. You just have to look for it.

    As for Fox, I grace their network once or twice in a year just to confirm that they are indeed still spewing lies, spin and propaganda. I don’t want to watch long enough to be included in their head counts of viewers and Sam Smith is the only fox host that actually bucks the trend on that station. I know many of the journalists in media today keep an eye on fox so they too are included in their head counts of viewers.

    There’s factual news out there but you have to find it and bookmark it and go there often to keep up with this daily soap opera that is IQ45’s administration.

  27. John Neal, “And I agree with Bernie that we need to stop talking about Russia and Trump’s past sexual escapades which MSNBC and CNN focus on wire to wire.”

    That sounds like the mantra of Trump’s defense team. With all the fast-breaking news in those two arenas, that would be like the leading Austin newspaper not carrying stories about local bombings. Trump’s treason deepens daily, a truth that was captured by Jimmy Fallon when he facetiously quoted Trump, “I don’t know why people are complaining about me calling to congratulate Putin on his election. I called to congratulate him on mine.”

    Trump’s criminality, thuggishness, awesome ignorance, admiration of dictators and utter boorishness make him uniquely unfit for office. Many of Parkland’s teenagers showed themselves to be his emotional and intellectual superiors, yet he mindlessly tweets on. He appears about to fire Gen. McMasters for doing his job of informing the President about the national security situation. He seems ready to elevate Kellyanne Conway to White House Director of Communications because she lies more glibly about his peccadilloes than did previous holders of that job. He raises deplorability to new levels of revulsion by employing staff whose own parents would lock them out of their homes. He retains staff only if their buttock- bussing proclivities are of the highest order. No man ever held a higher opinion of himself, nor earned a lower regard from patriotic Americans who see lots of things about his country worth saving from his depredations. And yes, I take pride in my ability to understate the case. This comment is actually 800 paragraphs longer than it appears, but if you can read, or even watch any TV station other than Fox, you already know what those paragraphs contain.

  28. It occurs to me that the devoted Fox viewers will have no idea that Peters has bailed for his supposed newly-arrived-at realization that it is a propaganda machine for the Trump network of criminals and traitors. FOX would likely not cover that little item.

    As an aside, I realized as long ago as 8 years, that every hotel/motel where we stayed while traveling had FOX as the pre-set channel on their in-room televisions and common areas. I surmised that the chain was getting subsidies from FOX in order to insure ratings to present to their advertisers.

    In a recent post, a relative described waiting in a reception area of a local car repair shop along with several other people watching a game show on the TV. An older man entered the area, picked up the remote and changed the channel to FOX without any concern for those watching. When challenged he responded that he needed find out what was going on in the world. He kept the remote to himself. Another older person commented that she bought guns when Obama was elected because he wanted to take guns away. The man told her she had made a smart move.

    The rude and aggressive behavior of those who identify as Trump/Pence enthusiastic supporters expect to go unchallenged because no one wants to engage in a confrontation with someone who is may be carrying a concealed weapon and is willing to use it.

    Throwing someone out a a restaurant for reading a book the management dislikes (and likely has not read themselves) would be a place that I would publicly call out and encourage a boycott.

    The local news in Indianapolis, the capitol city of the state, is primarily infotainment with little detail about pending legislation. Political coverage reports legislative activity (or the lack thereof) after the fact, if at all. Gannet and FOX control most of the local media. BBC and NPR/PBS are my choices for national and international news. Local and state political news reporting in Fort Wayne and Evansville papers is much better than the IndyStar.

  29. Whatever happens to Fox, you need to be aware that Sinclair is going to step right up and take over. They have mostly.

    Sinclair Broadcast Group is an American telecommunications company that is owned by the family of company founder Julian Sinclair Smith.

  30. Fos was founded by Roger Ailes to promote political propaganda. Profit was the means to that end. Unfortunately Fox and friends have convinced many that any neutral news source is biased.

    Having said that, I do have healthy skepticism of reporters. They do love to sensationalize and often make mistakes. That ‘s why critical thinking and logic should be required in the curriculums.

  31. Terry Munson,

    The point Bernie is making which I support is simple. This constant focus on the Russia probe (out of our control and which could vindicate Trump or not) and his past sexual escapades ( salacious but constitutionally inconsequential), distract from the serious damage he inflects daily with his policies, and the structural problems that we need to address e.g. inequality, mass incarceration etc.

    However, I understand your counter view, think it has merit, and accordingly respect it.

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