A former strategic analyst for Fox News says the network refused to use him for commentary on the Kremlin and the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia — despite being one of the few people in the network with extensive knowledge on the region.
Lt. Col. Ralph Peters decided to quit Fox last Tuesday with a searing memo, in which he said the network has degenerated into “a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration.”
Now, in a new op-ed for the Washington Post published Friday, Peters says he was silenced as early as 2016 from talking about the Trump administration’s national security vulnerability, particularly in regards to the Kremlin.
“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 in far-flung provinces,” he wrote. “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.”
Peters elaborates that he was never explicitly told that he couldn’t talk about Trump and Putin, rather that he was instead “relegated to Groundhog Day analysis of North Korea and the Middle East, or to Russia-related news that didn’t trust the administration.” He added that there was a witch-hunt being led by Fox against Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Mueller’s investigation is moving ever closer to Trump’s inner circle. On Tuesday, a court filing revealed that Trump campaign official Rick Gates — also a longtime associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort — had ties to the Russian intelligence service in 2016.
But Fox News has done everything in its power to avoid bringing up the subject. Sean Hannity has repeatedly called for the investigation to be dropped, arguing that Andrew McCabe and James Comey, who are key witnesses in the Mueller investigation, have perpetuated “the biggest abuse of power in the history of this country.”
Hannity has repeatedly attacked the FBI, arguing that former agent Peter Strzok and former lawyer Lisa Page had formed a “secret society” to undermine the Trump campaign.
Fox has also tried to deflect away from the investigation and instead focus, yet again, on President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s emails. In February for instance, Fox published a supposedly “bombshell” story about how Obama sought briefings about the Clinton email investigation. But upon closer inspection, the story falls apart. The FBI closed the Clinton investigation in July 2016, not re-opening it until October, while the text exchange that the Fox story hinged upon happened on September 2 — when the investigation wasn’t active.
Finally, Fox has invited on a series of Republican lawmakers to offer incoherent explanations as to why the Mueller investigation should be canned. The latest was Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) who argued that even if a senior White House official admitted to lying under oath about the investigation, they were “white lies.”
Peters has also experienced plenty of controversy of his own making. He had previously called Obama “a total pussy” on live television. He also begins his new Washington Post op-ed talking about how today at Fox you meet “an eager young woman wearing too little fabric and too much makeup” — a bizarre choice of words for a network with a systemic sexual harassment problem.
Fox categorically denies Peters’ claims. “There is no truth to the notion that Ralph Peters was ‘blocked’ from appearing on the network to talk about the major headlines,” a Fox spokesperson said in a statement. “In fact, he appeared across both networks multiple times in just the past three weeks.”