Fox News senior strategic analyst Jack Keane

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Fox continues longstanding push for war against Iran

As Iranian proxy forces attack US bases in the Middle East, Fox figures demand escalated retaliation

Multiple Fox News and Fox Business hosts, contributors, and guests have been pushing for increased military action against Iranian-backed militia forces in the Middle East and even for striking targets inside Iran in response to dozens of attacks on U.S. forces in the region by Iran’s proxy forces.

This weekslong campaign by Fox to attack Iran, including commentary from people who have worked in the defense industry, follows more than a decade of calls by Fox personalities to go to war with Iran.

  • The U.S. has retaliated against attacks by Iranian-backed forces

    • Reuters reported that as of November 9, there have been “at least 40 separate drone and rocket attacks that have been launched at U.S. forces by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria over the past three weeks in response to American support for Israel in the Gaza war.” So far, Reuters reported, “the bombardment has only caused a few dozen minor injuries” with “many of the rockets and one-way attack drones intercepted by U.S. air defenses in Iraq and Syria.” [Reuters, 11/9/23]
    • The New York Times reported that the U.S. has retaliated with three sets of “airstrikes against facilities used by Iran and its proxies in eastern Syria.” According to the Times, “President Biden had in recent weeks rejected more aggressive bombing options proposed by the Pentagon out of fear of provoking a wider conflict with Iran.” [The New York Times, 11/12/23]
  • Fox News is demanding further escalation, including a possible war with Iran

    • Fox News anchor John Roberts pointed to strikes against Iranian targets under former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump, and asked: “Why not slap them back really hard so that they don't even think about it?” [Fox News, America Reports, 11/13/23]
    • Fox contributor Marc Thiessen: “Go back to what Donald Trump was doing when he was president of the United States. … He said, if Iran or its proxies kills a single American citizen, we will not hold the proxies responsible, we will hold Iran responsible, and we will militarily strike Iran.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 11/13/23]
    • On Fox, Heritage Foundation’s Brent Sadler said the Biden administration’s airstrikes were not enough and “you have to hit more widespread, and you have to go after the leadership.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 11/13/23]
    • Fox senior strategic analyst Jack Keane encouraged President Joe Biden to emulate Trump and Reagan by striking Iranian targets. Keane also called for a comprehensive strike on Iranian proxy forces in the region: “Do it all at once in one night.” Keane, a retired Army general, was formerly a member of the board of directors at General Dynamics, served on the board of Cyalume Technologies Inc., and was executive chairperson of AM General, which manufactures military vehicles. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 11/13/23; Media Matters, 8/31/17, 8/30/21; The Intercept, 8/19/21]
    • After Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt asked of Iran, “Are we hitting back enough, Brian?” Co-host Brian Kilmeade said, “Absolutely not.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/13/23]
    • Fox & Friends guest Darin Gaub: “The message that has to be that we are actually responding from a position of strength and that Iran is going to pay a heavy price, much heavier price than anticipated for anything they do against us.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/13/23]
    • Fox contributor Keith Kellogg: “You have to … super escalate” against Iran. Kellogg formerly worked for defense contractors Cubic Defense and CACI International. [Fox News, Special Report, 11/10/23; Guardian, 2/14/17; NextGov, 1/24/05]
    • Fox guest Michael Allen said Biden is “too obsessed with escalation control at the expense of effective deterrence.” Allen is a senior fellow at the National Defense Industrial Association. [Fox News, America Reports, 11/10/23; National Defense Industrial Association, accessed 11/15/23]
    • Keane encouraged direct strikes against Iranian targets and dismissed concerns that “it will lead to war with Iran.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/10/23]
    • Keane: “We should tell” Iran that we’ll take out Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps buildings inside Iran “if you don’t stop.” He again denied that striking Iran will lead to war. [Fox Business, Kudlow, 11/9/23]
    • On Fox, former Trump Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Biden needs to “increase the frequency and the scale of the bombings, the counter strikes we impose upon them, and at some point they will stop.” Esper also downplayed concerns about striking Iran directly, saying, “It would not lead to World War III.” Prior to serving as Trump’s last defense secretary, Esper was a top lobbyist for defense contractor Raytheon. [Fox News, Your World, 11/9/23; Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington, 1/13/20]
    • Kellogg: Biden will “have to apply much greater force, get a reaction. … They need to respond much heavier.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 11/9/23]
    • Fox Business host Larry Kudlow: The U.S. “should have bombed” Iranian targets in Iraq. [Fox Business, Kudlow, 10/30/23]
    • On Hannity, former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cited a U.S. strike on Iran’s navy during the Iraq-Iran war and said: “We have to communicate to the Islamic Republic of Iran that if you open another front, the cost isn't imposed on somebody sitting in Syria or some knucklehead sitting in the desert in Iraq. It’s going to be imposed on the Iranian leadership.” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/27/23]
    • Fox guest Brett Velicovich: “Why aren't Iran’s oil fields on fire right now after their recent strike on our U.S. soldiers?” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 10/27/23]
    • Keane called for “extensive, multiple strikes” against Iranian proxy forces, then “if that doesn’t work … go after the IGRC [IRGC] training center in Iran.” Keane added: “Also, take down the IRGC headquarters in Iran, which directs and coordinates, funds, and supports all this activity.” [Fox News, Special Report, 10/27/23]
    • Fox guest Robert Spalding: “You’re going to have to go after Iran if you want to deescalate the situation.” Spalding added: “Quite frankly, I cannot fathom why we wouldn't go after Iran, you know, particularly as a message to say stop.” [Fox News, Your World, 10/27/23]
    • On Fox, Kellogg said the Biden administration needed to threaten to kill Iran’s leader and foreign minister. Kellogg said: “They need to nip this in the bud and we need to tell the supreme leader, and very clearly, you're on the docket, dude. We're coming after you if necessary. And we’re going after your infrastructure. And we’re going to go after the people as well, to include the leader of the Quds Force which is Esmail Qaani right now. And you also tell their foreign minister who’s at the UN … that you're going to be next.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 10/27/23]
    • Fox contributor Ari Fleischer: “We need to militarily strike Iran.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 10/25/23]
  • Fox personalities have repeatedly called for war against Iran at least as far back as 2010

    • Fox personalities called for military strikes on Iran in 2010. Then-Fox News contributor Bill Kristol called for then-President Barack Obama to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities in April 2010, saying that “it would be destabilizing if there were an attack on Iran's nuclear weapons program, but Iran wouldn't have nuclear weapons.” He added that he would “prefer an unstable Middle East without an Iranian nuclear weapon, than an unstable Middle East with an Iranian nuclear weapon.” On a separate Fox show in early April, Kristol said: “I think we have to have a credible threat of force and the preparation to use force against Iran.” Fox host Sean Hannity also advocated for military strikes on Iran, saying: “I'd knock out every darn military site they have. You're asking what I would do? I would not let the world risk a madman, like Ahmadinejad, have nuclear weapons with multiple threats to wipe Israel off the map. I would take out those nuclear sites.” [Media Matters, 11/23/10]
    • Fox figures again urged the U.S. to attack Iran in early 2012. On February 7, 2012, Hannity said Obama “ought to be dropping bunker buster bombs on Iran's nuclear sites.” Rudy Giuliani also urged Obama on Fox to attack Iran, saying: “I think we're going to have to be prepared to use military force.” [Media Matters, 2/13/12]
    • Fox personalities encouraged war with Iran over its nuclear program. In a segment on Iran increasing its enrichment of uranium that was posted to social media by then-President Donald Trump, Fox anchor Julie Banderas said: “History will tell you Iran only responds to strength. Strength in numbers, strength in military action, is needed, according to Mike Pompeo, who says that the president would back that.” She then asked her guest, Fox contributor Daniel Hoffman, whether “military action is needed,” and he replied that he agreed with Pompeo. Banderas also went on to air a clip of Keane pushing back against warnings from critics by arguing that military action would not result in a war and that the U.S. has “got to have enough resolve to stand up to” Iran. [Media Matters, 6/17/19]
    • Fox personalities also pushed for military strikes against Iran after it reportedly downed an unmanned American surveillance drone. Then-President Donald Trump had reportedly ordered a military strike in retaliation but aborted it before it took place. Brian Kilmeade harshly criticized Trump for abandoning the military strike, saying: “When they blow up our drone that costs $130 million and we do nothing, we know it's not going to end there. So at some point, in the Middle East, no action looks like weakness, and weakness begets more attacks.” Fox & Friends co-host Pete Hegseth said that “you got to strike back” over the reported downing of the drone. Fox host Laura Ingraham said that she supported “a targeted show of force” against Iran but opposed a long-term war. Hannity also went on an unhinged rant warning that Trump could “bomb the hell” out of Iran. Separately, a Fox & Friends guest claimed that “it would be a pretty quick and easy war” with Iran. [Media Matters, 6/21/19; Fox News, Hannity, 6/20/19; Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/21/19]
    • In 2019, Keane called for “a military retaliatory strike” on Iran in response to an attack on a Saudi oil field. Keane claimed that “a limited attack” on Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps targets and economic targets such as oil production and storage wouldn’t mean “an all-out war.” [Fox News, The Daily Briefing, 9/18/19]
    • Fox personalities pushed for war with Iran after it retaliated against the U.S. assassination of one of its military commanders, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Former Fox contributor Sebastian Gorka celebrated Iran’s retaliation because it might lead to war, saying: “We should welcome what they have decided to do. … This president will unleash holy hell.” Ex-Fox host Dan Bongino said, “The mullahs only understand one language, and that’s the language of death.” Fox guest Bryan Dean Wright called to “leave that nation in tatters” and also to give Iran its own “9/11.” Hannity endorsed Oliver North’s call to strike Iranian oil production and nuclear energy facilities. Fox contributor Newt Gingrich said, “I don’t think you should assume that Iran is too big to have regime change.” Hegseth suggested giving Iran an ultimatum before destroying its “energy production facilities,” “key infrastructure,” “missile sites,” and more. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 1/7/20; Media Matters, 1/8/20]