The White House’s “U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism,” issued in May of this year, orders the Department of Defense (DoD), by November, to “evaluate its policies to counter discrimination, discriminatory harassment, and extremist activity” and “estimate antisemitic and Islamophobic activity in the military workplace to identify gaps to be addressed in future policies, programs, and procedures to prevent and respond to antisemitism and Islamophobia in the military.”
One place the DoD might want to start, as a very senior U.S. military commander recently wrote to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), is to “find a way to stop the all-pervasive influence of FOX News on virtually all U.S. military installations’ television screens.”
As MRFF has heard countless times over the years from our men and women in uniform, Fox News, with its extremism-promoting programming (that’s “programming” in both senses of the word), is ubiquitous in the military, playing 24/7 on the TVs in workplaces, shopping facilities, waiting rooms, gyms, and other common areas at virtually every U.S. military installation.
Fox News is also given more airtime than the other cable news networks on the DoD’s American Forces Network (AFN), the TV service for military members serving overseas, with Fox being given 8 hours of AFN’s daily news channel line-up compared to CNN getting 5 hours and MSNBC only 4.5 hours. With the Fox News International streaming service, however, which was launched in 2020 and is now available in over 40 countries, overseas U.S. military installations are also playing Fox News non-stop on their TVs.
Whether it’s Greg Gutfield’s recent comment on “The Five,” one of the Fox programs in the AFN line-up, that Jews "had to be useful" in order to survive the Holocaust or Jesse Waters, whose show is also carried by AFN, defending Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Jewish conspiracy theory about COVID, Fox News can be counted on to serve up a healthy dose of pure antisemitism along with its other white Christian nationalist and extremism-fueling rhetoric.
So, why hasn’t the DoD, which is tasked with rooting out extremism and antisemitism in the military, done anything to curtail the omnipresent influence of Fox News on our troops via the TVs playing here, there, and everywhere on military installations? Well, maybe because so many at the Pentagon are themselves Fox News adherents.
One former Marine quoted in a 2022 article from Common Dreams titled “It's Time the Pentagon Pulled the Plug on Fox News,” with the subtitle “Extremist propaganda should not be piped into military bases at taxpayer expense,” told the article’s authors:
“Right-wing society has captured the military … If you walk the Pentagon halls there will be not one TV tuned to anything but Fox.”
Yes, at the Pentagon, that place where policies for the military are formulated, all the TVs are tuned to Fox. What could possibly go wrong?
The following email from a very senior U.S. military commander, although largely about Christian nationalist GOP Rep. Mike Turner’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment to shut MRFF down, goes on to describe Fox News, and the U.S. military command structure’s promotion of Fox News, as a “cancer,” and based on what MRFF has heard from many service members about the continual, and often inescapable, exposure to this extremism-stoking propaganda source on their own installations, that description is far from hyperbole.
From: (Active Duty Senior Officer’s e-mail address withheld)
Subject: Senior Military Commander Speaks about MRFF
Date: August 16, 2023 at 8:57:34 AM MDT
To: Information Weinstein email@example.com
Hi, Mikey and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF).
I am a very senior U.S. military commander who has relied on the MRFF’s intervention for a number of years now in my career as I have been promoted and assumed increasing combat command responsibilities over time.
So anyone who reads this knows, I was born and raised a Christian and continue to practice my Protestant faith with my spouse and children.
The MRFF has significantly aided my military command responsibilities in myriad ways regarding the prevention of Christian religious extremism for over 12 years now in so many circumstances that it would be too long to recount in this brief e-mail.
That said, I am sickened by the overtly unconstitutional attempt by Republican Christian fanatics in the U.S. Congress’ House of Representatives to actually criminalize communications under the UCMJ between American armed forces members and the MRFF. I would be the very first service member to defy such a law if and when it might ever tragically come into existence.
Lastly, I want to make it clear that the Department of Defense must find a way to stop the all-pervasive influence of FOX News on virtually all U.S. military installations’ television screens. Even as a very senior combat commander I have faced incredible resistance when I’ve tried to implement this ban. FOX News is a cancer to good order, discipline, morale and unit cohesion of our war fighters in so many ways. However, so many in the senior U.S. military command structure still support and promote the lies of FOX News and quietly prevent others from eliminating its universal TV screen time on armed forces installations literally everywhere 24 hours a day.
I have been wanting to write this short e-mail of gratitude to Mikey and the MRFF for a very long time.
I hope it will be impactful for all who read it.
Please do not reveal any of my personal identification information other than what I’ve provided in the text of this communication.
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