Trump reportedly taps frequent Fox guest for top Pentagon post

Anthony Tata has made 51 appearances on Fox weekday programs in recent years

Macgregor and Tata

Citation Audrey Bowler/Media Matters

Update (4/23/20): Anthony Tata, a retired brigadier general who has made 51 appearances on Fox's weekday programs since August 2017, will be nominated for the position of undersecretary of defense for policy, according to multiple reports.

The two leading candidates reportedly under consideration for a top Defense Department position have combined for more than 90 Fox News appearances in recent years. One of them has used appearances to parrot white nationalist propaganda and promoted a conspiracy theory about progressive donor George Soros, while the other offered praise for President Donald Trump, who live-tweeted about the comments.

Trump is obsessed with Fox’s propagandistic coverage and has stocked his administration with familiar faces from the network. At least 19 former Fox employees have worked for the Trump administration, including multiple Cabinet secretaries and several senior White House officials.

Now the White House is choosing between “2 Fox News regulars,” retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor and retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, to fill the currently vacant post of undersecretary of defense for policy, Politico reported Friday.

Macgregor has made at least 42 weekday appearances on Fox since August 2017 -- 36 of which came on Tucker Carlson Tonight -- according to a review of Media Matters’ internal guest database. Tata has appeared at least 51 times on Fox’s weekday programming over the same period.

Politico reports that Macgregor would be a “controversial choice” for the post because he “is a lightning rod in military circles” with “an army of detractors,” in part because he “enjoys being a contrarian.” On Fox, he has used his appearances to push racist conspiracy theories.

During a June 2019 appearance on Carlson’s show, Macgregor pushed the white nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy theory that white Americans are being systematically replaced by people of color for political purposes. After claiming that it is impossible for Republicans to be elected statewide in California because immigration from Mexico has made it “no longer a majority English-speaking white state,” he concluded that Democrats have decided that “the more of these people that can be brought in illegally, as well as legally, the better it is for the Democratic Party.”  He concluded that “their goal is to transform the United States into a facsimile of California.”

The “great replacement” theory is a frequent topic of discussion on Carlson’s show, elsewhere on Fox, and in white nationalist circles. A couple months after Macgregor’s appearance, a gunman killed 20 people and injured dozens in El Paso, TX, after posting online a document laying out the narrative.

Macgregor also pushed a conspiracy theory about Soros during a December 2019 appearance on Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight. He argued that Soros “has funded or helped fund these massive migrations out of Central America” and thus bears partial “responsibility for the massive criminality pouring into the United States from Mexico.”

Fox repeatedly promoted the evidence-free claim that Soros was behind various caravans of Central American migrants seeking asylum in the United States in 2018. After an anti-Semite who had accused Jewish people of “bringing in an invasion of nonwhite immigrants” killed 11 at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the network permanently banned a Dobbs guest who had accused the “Soros-occupied State Department” of funding the caravans.

While Macgregor is known for his controversial opinions, Tata is an “avid Trump defender” based on his Fox appearances and op-eds for its website, according to Politico.

Trump, who regularly live-tweets Fox segments that capture his attention, has twice highlighted Tata’s on-air praise after watching him on Fox. Trump quoted Tata describing him as a “man of his word” who had made “the right move” on the U.S.-Mexico border and praising him for making “the exact right move in Syria.”

Fox remains the best way for would-be administration officials to interview directly with the president.