Many years ago, I attended the psychological operations officer course taught at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I learned how to recognize propaganda.
The Fox News Channel’s politically weaponized opinion programs characterized by Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and others spew right-wing propaganda. They make no attempt to be “fair and balanced,” Fox’s unintentionally satirical motto. So here’s the question troubling me: Why is Fox News still broadcast on the U.S. Armed Forces Network to our military around the globe?
Let me be clear. The Fox News Channel, and others, make money by feeding the concerns and stoking the fears of conservative Americans — in and out of uniform — exploiting and exacerbating the partisan divide. Some of these persons took part in the Jan. 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill. I am willing to bet big that most were consumers of that propaganda. Reportedly, as many as one in five served in our armed forces. That is worrying.
How did this come to pass? “Niche reporting,” as conceived by the late head of Fox News programming, Roger Ailes, has been enormously successful in convincing a significant portion of the electorate that the Deep State actually exists, that Democrats will take away their guns, that the wholly discredited QAnon conspiracy theory is real and that “Antifa” is an existential threat to the nation. None of this is true.
The Fox News Channel, and others, like OAN and News Max, gush right-wing hype that masquerades as news. They regularly traffic in half truths and unproven conspiracy theories while enriching themselves — telling their largely Republican viewers precisely what they wish to hear: creating a perverse kind of self-reinforcing delusion that the nation is under severe threat from within.
In fairness, the U.S. mainstream media does have an unconscious bias toward the left of the political spectrum. There are many reasons, but the most important may be college education. The left-leaning bias of college graduates has been reported in multiple statistical studies. I would only point out that unconscious bias has little relationship to fully conscious and bellowing partisanship.
Fox News has fully weaponized the First Amendment, which protects free speech, becoming wealthier doing it. However, the Department of Defense need not be complicit by globally re-broadcasting their contrived conspiracy theories on the Armed Forces Network.
The truth matters. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has pledged to rid the military of extremists. Perhaps a good start would be to make this matter a priority order of business: to stop propagandizing our citizens in uniform.
Robert Bruce Adolph is a former senior Army Special Forces soldier and United Nations security chief, who holds graduate degrees in both international affairs & strategy. He is the author of the new book entitled, “Surviving the United Nations: The Unexpected Challenge.”