Fox News is leading a charge to fire Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel after the Republican-led government shutdown Fox helped orchestrate actually shut down the government and led to the suspension of military death benefits to families of fallen soldiers.
On October 8, the Defense Department issued a release confirming that it had suspended military death benefits to the families of at least five deceased soldiers because of the shutdown. “The department does not currently have the authority to pay death gratuities for the survivors of service members killed in action,” the release explained.
Fox quickly seized on the news to assail Hagel and call for his firing. During the October 9 edition of The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, Bill O'Reilly said that Hagel “should resign immediately” because “it's his fault” that the shutdown delayed death benefits. The following day, on his Fox News show, O'Reilly said that Hagel “should be fired immediately. He has no right to be there. He's lost all credibility with the military.” And on the October 11 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox contributor Katie Pavlich said, “I would hope in a moment of leadership that President Obama would ask [Hagel] to submit his resignation. This is something you do not violate.”
Fox's attempt to scapegoat Hagel is lacking considering the Pentagon warned Congress prior to the shutdown -- which Fox repeatedly cheered -- that it wouldn't have the authority to pay these benefits in the event of a shutdown. NBC News reported:
Lawmakers and the White House have voiced outrage over the shutdown fiasco that has deprived military families of death benefits, but the Pentagon warned of the situation days before the shutdown began.
Under Secretary of Defense Robert Hale advised of the effects a shutdown would have on military personnel and their families during a news conference on Sept. 27.
“We would also be required to do some other bad things to our people. Just some examples - we couldn't immediately pay death gratuities to those who die on active duty during the lapse,” Hale said.
Although the Republican-led shutdown prevented the Pentagon from paying military death benefits, the Pentagon struck a deal with a charity to ensure that the benefits are provided to the affected families. CNN reported that “the government will reimburse the Maryland-based Fisher House Foundation once the shutdown is over, Hagel said in a written statement.” Obama has since signed a bill providing military death benefits during the shutdown.
Of course, the best way to have avoided this situation would have been to not shut down the government in the first place. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) made that point on America's Newsroom, saying the problem with military death benefits “wouldn't have happened” if Republicans “had not shut down the government on a fool's errand that we were not going to accomplish.” McCain concluded: “This is not reason for [Hagel] to resign. Everybody should be held accountable for it, but shouldn't the people who created this situation where we shut down the government where they were able to take advantage -- shouldn't they be held accountable too?”