Fox News has signed Mike Pompeo, former U.S. secretary of state, as its latest network contributor. Pompeo joins a growing list of ex-officials who have been recruited to the network since former President Donald Trump left office, further cementing Fox’s status as not so much a news organization but a sort of Republican administration-in-exile, working to promote the party’s agenda in future campaigns.
On the one hand, Fox’s press release attempted to elevate Pompeo as “one of America’s most recognized and respected voices on foreign policy and national security issues.” But his own included quote took an outwardly partisan tone, setting him up to be a champion of the Trump administration: “As a now former diplomat and member of Congress, and in this new role at Fox News Media, I intend to give viewers a candid, no-nonsense look at geopolitics, international relations and the America First policies that helped chart the course for unprecedented American prosperity and security.”
And so it is clear that Pompeo’s hiring by the network is an avowedly partisan move, with an eye on promoting a political agenda going forward. This isn’t new for Pompeo or Fox, but it also presents a serious ethical concern for somebody who is obviously angling to run for president in 2024 — and could use the network’s broadcasts as a launchpad.
As for what we will see going forward, it’s likely to be a continuation of Pompeo’s long record of right-wing extremism and dishonest political spin, all with an eye toward the next election.
Pompeo’s record: Partisanship in foreign policy, and supporting Trump’s election sabotage at home
Pompeo rose to prominence in Congress as one of the leaders of the multiple investigations aimed at the Obama administration over the 2012 assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. In 2016, for example, he co-authored a report targeting former Secretary of State and then-Democratic presidential Hillary Clinton.
But while Pompeo’s report accused the Obama administration of “preserving a political narrative” to the detriment of national security, in another investigation years later — once Pompeo was in Trump’s cabinet — he accused congressional investigators of having “harassed and abused State Department employees” in the investigation of Trump’s effort to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden by withholding military aid. And documents revealed that he had communicated multiple times with Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani during the Ukraine pressure campaign.
Furthermore, during his first appointment by Trump, to be CIA director, he distorted the intelligence community’s assessment of Russian interference on Trump’s behalf in the 2016 election, falsely claiming that the agency concluded that it did not affect the result and Trump’s victory. That forced his own agency to publicly correct his statements, by explaining that it did not make such a judgment.
Pompeo also misused the traditionally nonpartisan State Department for domestic politics, speaking to the Republican National Convention in 2020, as well as using department funds for his special “Madison Dinners” attended by Republican donors. He had also arranged for Trump to fire a State Department inspector general who was reportedly investigating Pompeo regarding arms sales to Saudi Arabia. (Pompeo claimed he was not aware that the official he had gotten fired was also investigating him at the time.)
Pompeo also publicly aided Trump’s efforts to defy and overturn the result of the 2020 election. On November 10, days after the national media had called the election for Biden, Pompeo told reporters that there would be “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration” and echoed Trump’s baseless conspiracy theories about the election by saying, “We must make sure that any vote that wasn't lawful ought not be counted.” He also appeared to threaten Biden transition officials with criminal prosecution if they spoke with foreign leaders. (By this point, Biden had substantial leads in the vote counts across multiple swing states.)
Pompeo has promoted anti-LGBTQ extremism and climate science denial
Pompeo has publicly attacked non-Christians and LGBTQ people, such as in a 2015 address in which he declared: “America had worshiped other Gods and called it multiculturalism. We’d endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle,” and when he called the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage “a shocking abuse of power,” declaring that he would “continue to fight to protect our most sacred institutions.”
As secretary of state, he embarked on a campaign against LGBTQ rights, taking steps such as forbidding U.S. embassies from flying pride flags, and opposing expanded human rights efforts by instead setting up his own “Commission on Unalienable Rights” which cast LGBTQ rights as among a list of “divisive social and political controversies.”
Pompeo’s career has also been intricately tied to Koch Industries, having both received investments in his own business and been the top recipient of Koch Industries donations when he was first elected to Congress in 2010. He then emerged as a top spokesman for the Koch agenda of climate denial and inaction.
In 2013, he misleadingly claimed that “there are scientists that think lots of different things about climate change. There’s some who think we’re warming, there’s some who think we’re cooling, there’s some who think that the last 16 years have shown a pretty stable climate environment.”
As secretary of state, Pompeo pulled the United States out from the Paris climate agreement and also suggested that people impacted by climate change could “move to different places,” minimizing the suffering and dislocation involved.
Pompeo was practically a Fox News contributor already
According to analyses by Media Matters, Pompeo has appeared at least 69 times on weekday Fox News programming since August 2017. Such appearances have featured Pompeo promoting the term “Wuhan virus” with the network’s hosts and falsely blaming the Obama administration and its multilateral nuclear deal with Iran for alleged security threats that led to the U.S. military strike in early 2020 against Qassem Soleimani. (The Trump administration had already pulled out from the nuclear deal in 2018.)
And he has also been a frequent guest in the post-Trump era, with five weekday appearances in March. And he’s got an important reason to be doing this, as well.
The revolving door: From the Trump administration to Fox News — to 2024?
Pompeo’s recruitment also adds another example to the revolving door between Fox News and Republican political campaigns. Fox previously hired former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is now running for governor of Arkansas after a continued period of promoting herself on Fox News — and now the network has also brought on Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump, who is publicly considering a run for U.S. Senate from North Carolina.
Pompeo, meanwhile, has been looking even higher, with a recent appearance in Iowa and a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference showing him to be a potential candidate for president in 2024. He has also addressed the topic on Fox itself, declaring himself to be “always up for a good fight” during interviews with news anchor Martha MacCallum and host Sean Hannity last month.