Ralph Peters, a retired United States Army lieutenant colonel and conservative author who made headlines after quitting his longtime role as an analyst for Fox News and condemning the network, appeared on CNN with Anderson Cooper to slam his former network once again.
“For years, I was glad to be associated with Fox. It was a legitimate conservative and libertarian outlet. And a necessary one,” Peters told Cooper. “But with the rise of Donald Trump, Fox did become a destructive propaganda machine. And I don’t do propaganda for anyone.”
Peters noted that although President Donald Trump has often claimed that Congressional Democrats have conspired with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to use the "fake" Russia investigation to push him out of office, it is Fox News that is promoting a witch hunt against Mueller. Fox News, "particularly the prime time hosts" are attacking "our constitutional order, the rule of law, the Justice Department, the FBI, Robert Mueller," and other intelligence agencies, Peters said.
“And they are doing it for ratings and profit,” he added. “And they’re doing it knowingly, and, in my view, doing a great, grave disservice to our country.”
Peters also had harsh words for Fox News host Sean Hannity, who is one of the president's most vigorous defenders. Asked by Cooper whether Fox News's prime time hosts actually believe their conspiracy theories about "the deep state," Peters said, "I suspect Sean Hannity really believes it. The others are smarter, they know what they’re doing."
“I want to cry out and say, ‘How can you do this? How can you lie to our country? How can you knowingly attack our Constitution, the bedrock of our system of government, the bedrock of our country?’” Peters continued. “And when you go after the Constitution, you best beware, because you are doing a phenomenal, indeed immeasurable damage.”
Indeed, Hannity hasn't been particularly subtle in his disdain for Robert Mueller's investigation, and his regularly pushed conspiracy theories, such as one recently comparing Mueller to a mob boss.
In April, Hannity presented a “Mueller crime family” chart that suggested the special counsel is in league with the “deep state” to remove Trump from office.
“If he’s going to use this sweeping analogy, I’ve decided tonight we’re going to use—the ‘Comey standard’ I call it—and make some comparisons of our own,” Hannity said, starting the mob boss section of his program with an aside he called “The Clinton crime family.”
Delving into the sexual assault allegations against former president Bill Clinton, Hannity said. “Hillary Clinton—we know she committed crime,” a reference to the FBI’s investigation into her use of a private email server despite the organization finding no evidence of criminal acts perpetrated by Clinton while she served as Secretary of State.
While describing the “Mueller crime family,” Hannity likened the Russia investigation to a “witch hunt” and accused Mueller’s office of “looking the other way” during his time as a federal prosecutor in Boston.
Peters quit Fox News in March, denouncing the network and President Trump in an email to his colleagues.
“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, who often criticized former President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, wrote at the time.
“Over my decade with Fox, I long was proud of the association. Now I am ashamed,” he continued, noting that Fox’s hosts “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 [special counsel] Robert Mueller.”
The text of his full email is below:
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."
The departure prompted Fox News to release the following statement:
Ralph Peters is entitled to his opinion despite the fact that he’s choosing to use it as a weapon in order to gain attention. We are extremely proud of our top-rated primetime hosts and all of our opinion programing.
Peters’ resignation is a noteworthy one because he was one of the network’s most reliably conservative voices. He’d used his time on the air to bash Muslims, for example.
“Look, we have to face the facts. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim today,” he said during a segment which aired in 2016, in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. “There’s a tremendous crisis, a convulsive crisis within Islam and Muslims have to sort it out themselves, but in the meantime, we must defend ourselves, and that means taking on radical jihadi groups.”
Peters also made headlines for his remarks on Israel, saying that “being anti-Israel is the socially acceptable form of anti-Semitism” and that that the Middle East was a “sea of barbarism.”
But perhaps his most infamous moments as a commentator for the network came when he championed hawkish national security policies and criticized President Obama, once stating that Obama had been “date raped” in his dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. During an appearance on Stuart Varney’s Fox Business Network Show in December 2015, Peters referred to Obama as a “total pussy,” leading Fox News to suspend him for two weeks.
Peters had become increasingly critical of Fox News even before his departure. In February, he announced his support for gun control after a shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida left 17 people dead, saying that keeping assault weapons off the street was “a moral issue” that was about “dead children.” During a segment with Fox News commentator Neil Cavuto, he said, “It’s pathetic that we have to get to that level. It’s pathetic that we’re so wrapped up around AR-15s that we don’t want to protect children.”
During an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson last year, he slammed Putin’s actions in Syria, and compared Carlson to a Nazi apologist after Carlson said that Americans should be more supportive of the U.S. working with Putin and Russia in fighting ISIS in Syria.
“You sound like Charles Lindbergh in 1938, saying, ‘Hitler hasn’t attacked us,'” Peters said at the time.