On Thursday night, Fox News prime-time host and leading network voice Tucker Carlson delivered a tirade against Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, following the general’s comments to the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday on the importance of understanding the historical and ongoing issues of racism in America, as well as the “white rage” that led to the January 6 attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.
“Mark Milley is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He didn't get that job because he’s brilliant or because he’s brave or because the people who know him respect him. He is not, and they definitely don't,” Carlson said, going on to describe Milley as “obsequious,” a “pig,” and “stupid.”
And while Carlson’s tirade has attracted a lot of condemnation, he has also received public support from a number of far-right commentators and online outlets, including Gateway Pundit, The Post-Millennial, Jack Posobiec, and John Cardillo.
But Carlson’s remarks are not an isolated incident for Fox News. Instead, they are just the latest in a building crescendo of attacks against Milley’s comments that began ever since he first said them on Wednesday.
Furthermore, the roots of this attack are part of Fox’s ongoing attack against the U.S. military’s diversity and anti-racism efforts. This in turn is part of the network’s scare campaign against “critical race theory” — actually a discipline within higher academia that seeks to explore how the history of racism in America still has an effect on modern life and society, but which the right wing has deliberately rebranded as an umbrella term for any number of “culture war” grievances and opposition to civil rights.
Fox’s initial reaction to Milley’s comments came via the purported “straight news” side, with anchor Martha MacCallum intoning Wednesday afternoon: “So, we've seen the impact of wokeness teaching in schools and in corporate training. But now, is it becoming woven into our military as well, where there is, of course, only one clear mission: a united front to defend the nation.”
MacCallum later kicked off the next segment with a discussion of a raucous school board meeting in Loudoun County, Virginia, as part of Fox’s efforts to influence that state’s gubernatorial election this year. (Fox has been depicting many of these people as simply “concerned parents” getting involved at the local level, when many of them are also longtime right-wing activists.)
“So, the chaos that we saw last night in Loudoun County at the school board may be one of those moments that we look back on when the tide began to turn on critical race theory and the woke movement in our schools,” MacCallum said, in a seamless transition that helped to demonstrate the fully unified and deliberate manner in which Fox is conducting a political propaganda campaign.
Fox’s coverage then proceeded to go further downhill from there. On the panel show The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld claimed that he had “never seen kind of a cult-like thinking spread so fast, in so many different areas of the world. You have the Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley defending critical race theory. So it's gotten to the military.” Gutfeld appeared again on Fox News Primetime and claimed that the U.S. military was adopting “pretty much a racist theology, it's a cult.”
In addition, Fox News host Mark Levin commented on his radio show, “If we fight a war, it's going to be amazing that we win with the kinds of generals that are leading our military.” Levin also called both Milley and Austin “a joke.”
Prime-time host Laura Ingraham attacked Milley’s integrity in multiple ways, suggesting that he would have been speaking more respectfully to Chinese generals. “The fact is Milley has made his choice, and he has chosen to indulge the radical whims of Democrats,” Ingraham said. “He'll do everything they tell him as long as they keep the military industrial complex flush with cash.”
Then on Thursday, in the timeslot right before Carlson’s show, Fox News Primetime rotating host Will Cain warned that critical race theory “could now be infiltrating the United States military,” using a word traditionally associated with espionage. “You only have to listen to the words of the Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley describe, quote, ‘white rage’ as the reason for the January 6 protests.”
Ingraham also returned to attacking Milley, accusing him of not paying attention to America’s security threats but instead “worrying about what he thinks is wrong with the United States” and “sounding more like a commentator on MSNBC than a military leader.”
Ironically enough, though, Ingraham then aired a clip of Milley asking rhetorically: “So what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building, and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? So it is important that the leaders now and in the future do understand it.”