The Hit Job on Fox News - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Hit Job on Fox News

It was a hit job. Sixty veterans signing a much publicized “Open Letter to Fox News” — yet the signers were mysteriously never identified beyond the military branch in which they served.

No wonder. I have been through the list of sixty, and it is filled with Obama campaign workers, one ex-Obama White House aide, liberal activists, Democratic Party congressional candidates, Democratic Party state legislators, and more. The letter was sponsored by the Truman Project, a ten-year-old think tank with a focus on national security. Its board of directors includes Hunter Biden, the son of the Vice President. None of which was even whispered in the haughty “Open Letter” that was distributed to a media all too eager to go along with an attack on Fox News and two of the co-hosts on the Fox show The Five — Eric Bolling and Greg Gutfeld. Instead the letter was presented as a source of genuine outrage from average, non-partisan American veterans — while keeping the real identity of the signers secret.

And you wonder why Americans are cynical about politicians?

The other day on Fox’s The Five co-host Eric Bolling made a mistake. Following up a “One More Thing” salute by co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle to United Arab Emirates Air Force Major Mariam Al Mansouri for being that rarity of an Air Force pilot in an Arab country – a woman pilot in that part of the world where women are all too frequently treated as less than even second class citizens. Bolling joked about whether this meant “boobs on the ground.” Gutfeld smiled a joke about whether the Major could park the jet. (For those who watch Gutfeld on both The Five and his own Redeye, the joke is always the joke within the joke, obviously lost on less sophisticated critics — unless, of course, it wasn’t lost and they needed Gutfeld’s remark to help play their game.)

By the next day there was the inevitable apology from Bolling, which he expanded on during a second show after that. Bolling mentioned that Fox had heard from a number of women in the military who were in fact genuinely upset. And Gutfeld, who correctly notes that he is known for “hacky jokes” that are supposed to be “hacky jokes,” did his own apology. 

Time to move on, yes? There are people out there who wish “death to America” and are working on it. Surely there’s more to be concerned about than this? No. Not if you’re the Truman Project. 

What in the world does the Truman Project have to do with the Bolling/Gutfeld episode from The Five? Well, gee. If you’re only a ten year old think tank and your coin of the realm is national security, the Bolling/Gutfeld remarks are pure PR gold. So without wasting a moment, the Truman Project had a new project to raise its profile: Jump into this pool and make a sure-fire splash by self-righteously attacking Fox News, Bolling, and Gutfeld. So it did. 

The tool selected for this job was a condescending-in-tone “Open Letter to Fox News” ripping Messrs. Bolling and Gutfeld — after they apologized. And the hook? Have the letter signed by sixty former members of the U.S. military. All of them signing with nothing but their name and their branch of service. As in “Jane Doe, US Army” or “John Doe, US Navy” etc.

So the letter was written, the sixty signers added — and voila! Great PR ensues from the media! It took off on the Internet and social media. Mediate headlined: “60 Veterans Sign Open Letter to Fox News Condemning ‘Boobs on the Ground’ Remark.”

Over at Talking Points Memo the headline read: “An Open Letter To Fox News About ‘Boobs On The Ground.”

At Business Insider the header was: “US Veterans Send Fox News An Open Letter About ‘Boobs On The Ground’ Joke.”

The letter went everywhere. And what did the Truman Project letter say? It read in part, as reproduced’ at Talking Points Memo:

An Open Letter To Fox News About ‘Boobs On The Ground’

Dear Mr. Bolling and Mr. Gutfeld,
We are veterans of the United States armed forces, and we are writing to inform you that your remarks about United Arab Emirates Air Force Major Mariam Al Mansouri were unwarranted, offensive, and fundamentally opposed to what the military taught us to stand for.

After a short history of women fighter pilots and lecturing on the importance of not offending an ally, the letter concludes: 

… And before you jump to the standby excuse that you were “just making a joke” or “having a laugh,” let the men amongst our number preemptively respond: You are not funny. You are not clever. And you are not excused. Perhaps the phrase “boys will be boys”—inevitably uttered wherever misogyny is present—is relevant. Men would never insult and demean a fellow servicemember; boys think saying the word “boobs” is funny.

… We issue an apology on your behalf to Major Al Mansouri knowing that anything your producers force you to say will be contrived and insincere. Major, we’re sincerely sorry for the rudeness; clearly, these boys don’t take your service seriously, but we and the rest of the American public do.

Very Respectfully,

What followed were the sixty signatures, with service branch indicated.

Now. Notice the very first part of the very first sentence? The part that begins: “We are veterans of the United States armed forces….”

True enough, as far as it goes. But right off the bat something very important was left out. Who are these people? Veterans – i.e., former members of the military — are like everyone else. When not in the service they are doing other things. In this case the question is obvious. Like… what? Curiously — very curiously — the letter does not say what these signers have been doing in their non-military lives. There was a reason.

The very first signer is “Michael Breen, U.S. Army.” Who is Michael Breen? Aside from being the executive director of the Truman Project? The Truman Project itself identifies Mr. Breen as having “clerked in the Office of White House Counsel, where he focused on national security matters and assisted with the confirmation of (Obama nominee) Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor.” Which is to say, Mr. Breen is a former Obama White House aide.

And from there on through the list one finds the signatories to this letter of outrage to have backgrounds other than being a veteran — serious political backgrounds. Backgrounds that are highly partisan — and hidden from readers. For example?

  •  “Margot Beausey, U.S. Navy” is a staffer for Colorado Democrat Senator Michael Bennet and is pictured here with President Obama when she worked as an Obama White House Navy liaison. 
  •  “Scott Holcomb, U.S. Army” is State Representative Scott Holcomb, a Democrat from Georgia who serves as the Democrats’ Chief Deputy Whip in the Georgia State House.
  •  “Aryanna Hunter, U.S. Army” is Aryanna Hunter Strader, the 2012 Democratic nominee for Congress from Pennsylvania’s 16th District.
  •  “Alex Cornell du Houx, U.S. Navy” is a Democrat in the Maine House of Representatives. He is a “vice-chair of the DNC Veterans Council and member of the DNC Youth Council.”
  •  “Kevin Johnson, U.S. Army” is an Obama White House “Champion of Change” as featured on the White House website. 
  •  “Andrea Marr, U.S. Navy” is likewise celebrated on the Obama White House website as a “Champion of Change”
  •  “Jon Gensler, U.S. Army” is an environmental activist who has worked for the left-wing Environmental Defense Fund and been a “guest blogger” on climate change at the left-wing Think Progress.
  •  “Rob Miller, U.S. Marine Corps” appears to correspond with ex-US Marine Rob Miller who twice was the Democrats’ nominee against South Carolina Republican Congressman Joe Wilson.
  •  “Terron Sims II, U.S. Army” is in fact a former co-chair of 2008’s Virginia Veterans for Obama and is now “a member of Organizing for America’s (OFA) veterans steering committee.”
  •  “Sonia Fernandez, U.S. Marine Corps” as noted here, “served as a campaign volunteer for the Presidential campaign of then Senator Barack Obama in 2008, working in New Mexico and again in 2012 serving as a national campaign surrogate for his reelection, writing blogs, appearing in the media as well as serving as an elected delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. She is currently the Western Regional Coordinator for the Democratic National Committee’s, Veterans and Military Families Council where she helps to advocate for veteran issues.”
  •  “Dan Futrell, U.S. Army” is a Democratic activist from Massachusetts, a supporter of Elizabeth Warren who wrote of veterans support for her candidacy in the pages of the Huffington Post.
  •  “Daniel Savage, U.S. Army” has “served on the staff of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel” — President Obama’s former White House chief of staff.
  •  “Matt Pelak, U.S. Army” is seen here at this White House website meeting with President Obama about a project called Team Rubicon.
  •  “LaRue Robinson, U.S. Army” served as “National Democratic Law Students Council, Vice President, 2008-2009.”
  •  “Anthony Woods, U.S. Army” was a Democratic candidate for Congress in a California primary. He lost to John Garamendi but received considerable favorable press attention, as here in the Daily Beast where he was lauded for having “the best political résumé ever” as “a gay, black Iraq veteran with a Harvard degree.”
  •  “Matt Zeller, U.S. Army” was “the Democrat candidate for Congress in 2010 in NY’s 29th Congressional District.”

The Truman Project has quite deliberately and deceptively made this “Open Letter to Fox News” appear to the media and the wider public as if its signers are nothing more than outraged veterans. Nothing to see here more than that…just look, report it and move on. Which, in fact, is what all those “news” outlets above not to mention the wider social media did. Not a one of them published the backgrounds of the signers. 

But in reality this snarky letter is filled with signers who have either worked directly in the Obama White House, have served in or have run for state or federal office as Democrats, or have worked as activists for various liberal causes.

What we have here in fact is a classic example of a left-wing hit job. No one, beginning with Eric Bolling and Greg Gutfeld, believes their off-the-cuff remarks on a live TV show were appropriate. Both men have apologized, Bolling twice. But this isn’t really about Eric Bolling or Greg Gutfeld. What this is really all about is a hardcore and on-going political effort to smear Fox News. This time as part of that “war on women” business liberals need to survive politically.

If in fact their partisan connections were listed, the letter would lose its news value. It would have been just another dog-bites-man, ho-hum press release, its rewritten title: Liberal Activists Attack Fox News. No news there.

This kind of partisan hackery has Americans fed up. Worse yet, the Truman Project used the American military as a pawn for its hackery. Too bad the rest of us are watching.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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