Sebastian Gorka: Swamp Thing

Lacking any real experience or qualification, Sebastian Gorka has moved quickly to cash in on his brief White House tenure

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Some big congratulations are in order for Sebastian Gorka. A couple of months after “resigning” from his well-compensated White House job, which consisted mainly of going on TV to propagandize on behalf of President Trump and spin fanciful nightmares about Shariah law, he’s landed a new gig as a “national security strategist” for Fox News. I can’t pretend to know what that job title is supposed to mean, but in practice Gorka has been doing more of the same -- he’s paid to go on TV and lionize his former boss while whipping up panic about dangerous Muslims.

This is quite a success story for Gorka, a self-styled national security “expert” who doesn’t really know much about national security. He’s such a flagrant poser that actual national security experts practically trip over themselves to go on record calling him an ignorant charlatan. Lesser frauds might have had their ambitions derailed by their transparent ignorance and links to Hungarian neo-Nazi groups --but not Gorka. He faked it until he made it all the way to an office in the West Wing (from which he was ignominiously booted after just seven months).

What strikes me about Gorka’s new job at Fox is its audacious swampiness. There isn’t really any good reason to give Sebastian Gorka a job as a “national security strategist,” whatever that is. By some accounts, Gorka had no actual “national security” role in the White House and was essentially a glorified spokesman. But for Fox News, a recently departed White House staffer who still has strong ties to the political machine of the president the network supports is a valuable commodity, so carving out some bullshit patronage for him makes sense.

As for Gorka, he’s quite shamelessly moving as quickly as he can to cash in on his brief, ridiculous tenure in the Trump administration. Before landing at Fox, he was briefly employed by the MAGA Coalition, a pro-Trump super PAC founded by conspiratorial whackos. The Daily Beast reported this week that Gorka has also been working as a paid lecturer for the Heritage Foundation. The cushy gig at Fox is the third sinecure he’s locked down since being ejected from the Trump administration. For someone who spends a lot of time inveighing against the corruption of “the swamp,” Gorka clearly has no problem monetizing the paltry 200-plus days he spent as a government official.

So what has Gorka been doing to earn his Fox News paycheck? His primary responsibility to date has been to go on Hannity and Fox & Friends (two of the network’s more toxically dishonest programs) to conspiratorially gibber about political news and launch acidic broadsides against any critic of Donald Trump. What the network is not getting from its new “national security strategist” is much in the way of national security strategy.

In the past couple of weeks, Gorka appeared on the network numerous times to discuss reports of sexual misconduct by prominent Democrats -- a topic that has nothing to do with national defense, but is tailor-made for someone whose only real talent is attacking Donald Trump’s political enemies. “The left as a whole has no vision and no morals, they are spiritually and politically bankrupt,” Gorka barked during a November 21 Hannity segment on a sexual misconduct report against Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).

That segment never once came within striking distance of anything even tangentially related to national security, nor did his November 27 spot on Hannity reacting to Donald Trump’s racist attack on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as “Pocahontas.” As Gorka saw it, the real villain was Sen. Warren. “This is a woman who had a no-show job, or a job where she taught one course and then picked up $400,000 from Harvard a year,” sneered Gorka, who earns his living via 10-minute cable news hits and speaking fees from a right-wing think tank.

Gorka has also logged several segments on the Uranium One “scandal.” If one were inclined to be extremely generous, one could categorize those segments as being related to “national security,” given that Uranium One involves a former high-level national security official (Hillary Clinton) and fuel for nuclear weapons. But I can’t be that generous because the Uranium One scandal is a complete fabrication.

And Gorka’s interest in the Uranium One “scandal” has less to do with its nonexistent national security aspect than its similarly vacant promise of legal consequences for Clinton. “Your slides yesterday were magnificent,” Gorka told Sean Hannity on November 15, referring to a conspiratorial Uranium One flowchart Hannity slapped together. “Those should be used in the court of law to prosecute everybody involved with Uranium One who undermined the American national security.”

But I want to be careful here and give Sebastian Gorka the credit he is due -- he has brought some national security strategizing to Fox News’ airwaves. For example, on the November 9 edition of Hannity, Gorka reminded viewers that “the first rule of war is that the initial report from the battlefield is almost always wrong.” That’s sound military advice, though I have to point out that he said it in the context of questioning the credibility of the women reporting Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore for sexual assault. “Let's stop, find what the facts are. Is this person credible?”

On the November 18 edition of Watters’ World, Gorka observed that “Steve has read his Sun Tzu, he knows how to do this.” Sun Tzu, of course, was the Chinese general credited with writing The Art of War, a book that has inspired countless military leaders and vanity license plates. The “Steve” in this sentence, however, is not a military leader but, rather, Steve Bannon, whom Gorka was praising for trying to goad Hillary Clinton into running for president again in 2020.

These two quips nicely encapsulate the essence of Gorka: an otherwise unremarkable pundit who wraps himself in a millimeter-thick patina of “national security” gravitas. His shallow insights and analysis are identical to the dreck emanating from fringe think tanks and lesser-known far-right Islamophobes. But he’s clever enough to seek out people and institutions who will give him money and important-sounding positions despite his lack of qualification: the Trump White House, Fox News, the Heritage Foundation, etc. Gorka is a creature of the swamp.