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Fox News has been known to run a pretty tight ship. Even anchors and reporters who chose to leave the network often did so on fairly quiet terms. Certain exceptions apply, of course, but no one has quite gone out the same way Ralph Peters recently did.
Peters is a long-time Fox News contributor as a military analyst who was a favorite of many Fox viewers for his blunt characterization of President Obama, especially when he used a denigrating epithet to describe Obama’s perceived lack of courage. That statement, and the incessant meme war that followed, turned Peters into a bit of a folk hero among the Fox faithful.
After what Peters said last week, though, many of those same people are now demonizing Peters. In his resignation from Fox News, along with a refusal to renew his contract with the network, Peters unleashed a castigating diatribe that, among other things, characterized Fox as a “propaganda machine” that is “wittingly harming our system of government for profit…”
Peters sent this missive to his colleagues and someone shared it with the news media. As expected, Fox’s network competition is having a field day with the commentary. “Fox,” Peters said, “is assaulting our constitutional order and the rule of law” and propping up a “destructive and ethically ruinous administration…”
There was really no way for current pundits across the political spectrum to let this one go by or remain on the fence about it. CNN reported comments by Bruce Bartlett, a writer and historian who worked in the Reagan and H.W. Bush administrations, who said it was a calculated move by Peters:
“Peters is the conservative establishment and as far as I can see has no policy disagreements with the GOP or the conservative movement. His concern is simply that Fox isn’t a responsible media outlet… I’m guessing that he made a calculation that Trump is going down and Fox may go down with him.”
BuzzFeed is one of the media outlets that published Peters’ letter in full, igniting a debate online about the nature of Peters’ missive and if he deserved praise or scorn. Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, a left-leaning news watchdog lined up squarely on the side of scorn, saying Peters “deserves no accolades… For more than a decade, he was reliable and unwavering in advancing Fox News’ agenda.”
It’s an interesting dynamic that, in today’s hyper-partisan consumer media environment, Peters may come out of this as a man without a comfortable place to hang his hat. Fox certainly won’t have him back, and the network’s fans are intensely loyal to the network’s messaging. Meanwhile, fans of left-leaning networks who have been railing against Peters’ take on the world for a decade will find it difficult to forgive and forget.