Retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, a longtime analyst for Fox News, told colleagues he is done with the network he says has become "a propaganda machine" for President Trump.
Peters said in an email first reported Tuesday by BuzzFeed that he chose not to renew his contract as a paid contributor with Fox News on March 1 because he was "ashamed" of the network.
He said the 21st Century Fox-owned cable channel has gone from being a valuable conservative voice to "assaulting our constitutional order and the rule of law, while fostering corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers."
Peters' comments directly targeted the network's opinions hosts — which include Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham — for their consistent attacks on special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation into Russia's interference with the 2016 presidential election. Mueller is also looking into whether Trump obstructed justice when he fired James B. Comey from his post as FBI director.
"When prime-time hosts — who have never served our country in any capacity — dismiss facts and empirical reality to launch profoundly dishonest assaults on the FBI, the Justice Department, the courts, the intelligence community (in which I served) and, not least, a model public servant and genuine war hero such as Robert Mueller — all the while scaremongering with lurid warnings of 'deep-state' machinations — I cannot be part of the same organization, even at a remove," Peters wrote. "To me, Fox News is now wittingly harming our system of government for profit."
Peters' missive is the second time in a week Fox News' top-rated conservative opinion hosts have been subjected to internal criticism. While not nearly as harsh, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said in an interview with Time magazine that some of the network's opinion programming "is there strictly to be entertaining," which led to some blowback from Hannity and Ingraham on social media. (Hannity called Smith "clueless" about the reporting done on his program).
But Peters' remarks are noteworthy because as a Fox News national security analyst for 10 years, he has been a foreign policy hawk who frequently criticized the Obama administration. He was once suspended from the network for a week in 2015 after an appearance on the Fox Business Network in which he used a vulgar term to describe former President Obama's fortitude in combating terrorism by Islamic extremists.
Peters' email notes that his condemnation of Fox News does not include the hard news reporters at the operation whom he called "talented professionals in a poisoned environment." He also excluded the Fox Business Network, "where numerous hosts retain a respect for facts and maintain a measure of integrity."
A Fox News representative did not comment on Peters' contract but defended its on-air talent.
"Ralph Peters is entitled to his opinion despite the fact that he's choosing to use it as a weapon in order to gain attention," the network said in a statement. "We are extremely proud of our top-rated prime-time hosts and all of our opinion programming."