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Former Fox News Analyst Calls Network a 'Destructive Propaganda Machine'

For 10 years, Ralph Peters regularly appeared on Fox News to offer military analysis and insight as one of the cable network's reliably conservative commenters. But he quit in March in disgust.

Mr. Peters, who announced his departure in a blistering farewell note to his colleagues, followed up on Wednesday with another searing attack, saying that the network was "doing a great, grave disservice to our country."

The retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Army spoke on CNN in his first television interview since his departure. "With the rise of Donald Trump, Fox did become a destructive propaganda machine," Mr. Peters said. "And I don't do propaganda for anyone."

For the decade he worked there, Mr. Peters said he believed that Fox News was a necessary and legitimate conservative bulwark in the news media and an outlet for libertarian opinions. But under President Trump, the network shifted rightward, he said.

Its popular prime time hosts, particularly Sean Hannity, started to echo Mr. Trump's debunked theories of a "deep state" undermining his administration. They joined the president in steadily attacking the Justice Department, the F.B.I. and other democratic institutions, Mr. Peters said.

"I suspect Sean Hannity really believes it," he said. "The others are smarter. They know what they're doing. It's bewildering to me. I mean, I wanted to just cry out and say: 'How can you do this? How can you lie to our country?'"

On Thursday morning, Alisyn Camerota, a former Fox News anchor who now works at CNN, said that Mr. Peters's remarks mirrored her own experience at the network.

"I too was upset about the blurring of the lines between propaganda and journalism," Ms. Camerota said after a clip of his remarks was played. "I don't know whether the viewers know the difference between the prime time hosts and the great reporters there."

Fox News said Thursday that it stood by its statement from when Mr. Peters departed in March. "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 then. "We are extremely proud of our top-rated prime time hosts and all of our opinion programing."

Fox News and Mr. Trump enjoy a symbiotic relationship. He is a loyal viewer of its morning program "Fox & Friends," often tweeting about what the hosts discuss and sometimes calling in for lengthy interviews. At night, a lineup of opinion shows offers a friendly space for Trump supporters. The friendliest might be "Hannity," whose host is also an influential Trump confidant.

Mr. Hannity, as well as reporters and anchors from the network's news division, are traveling to Singapore for Mr. Trump's June 12 summit meeting with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un. "Hannity" will be broadcast live for three nights in Singapore, the network said.

[Source: By Matthew Haag, The New York Times, 07Jun18]

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