Fox News’ “The Five” Are Bad On National Security
According to Wikipedia, “The Five is an American panel talk show on Fox News Channel in which five commentators discuss current stories, political issues, and pop culture”. Meanwhile, Fox News’s website states that “ “The Five” finished October as the most-watched cable news program[ in the USA], averaging 3.1 million viewers”. Yet for all their conservative credentials and the responsibility laid upon them, the panellists do not always take a clear enough stance for the defence of their country.
Just look at this segment, uploaded to YouTube on 19 November.
The trouble starts when panellist Greg Gutfeld opines:
You know, Kennedy, I’m seeing, in this weird world, a very positive trend where the strongest voices on the left, starting with Dave Rubin, Bill Maher, Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, they’re all[…] understanding that there’s something bad going on. And I’m also seeing it on the right, where the right are actually changing their views on spying and foreign policy and drug legalisation. There seems to be a switch going on, and it’s very healthy.
Does Glenn Greenwald really belong on that list of “the strongest voices on the left”? Or is he a crank and purveyor of misleading commentary who panders to paranoia in his promotion of anti-interventionism in foreign policy? I suspect that Gutfeld’s ringing endorsement of Greenwald has something to do with the latter’s appearances on Fox News, but, chillingly, it seems likely that he agrees with many of the man’s more controversial opinions. And why is it “very healthy” for the right to be more averse to the collection of intelligence and to change its principles regarding foreign policy? Elsewhere (just don’t ask me where exactly), Gutfeld has claimed to have become sceptical of the Patriot Act, despite his original support for it. But the Patriot Act is useful to U.S. national security. It is also legal. As to foreign policy, Donald Trump certainly strayed from more traditional right-of-centre ideas in this area — but in my estimation, all his successes in it were due to his pursuit of assertive action in a rather traditionally conservative, and even neoconservative, vein. John Bolton maintains in his book “The Room Where It Happened” that Trump told him early on that they agreed on most things, and Bolton’s Oxford Union talk further substantiates the notion that the Trump administration abided, to great success, by a traditionally hawkish foreign-policy philosophy propounded by people like Bolton. In contrast, Trump’s flops came when he diverged from those principles (as when he opened talks with Kim Jong-Un).
If by his reference to “drug legalisation” Gutfeld means that marijuana should be legalised, he is wrong there as well. However, that is neither here nor there.
“The Five” contributor Geraldo Rivera then says about centre-left comedian Bill Maher:
I admire the fact that he is an activist. […] He had the show “Politically Incorrect” on ABC network. A couple of weeks after 9/11, when everyone was saying: “Those cowards attacked us[…]”, Bill Maher said: “Wait a second. They’re not cowards. They’re the ones who flew the planes and died. You know, maybe the generals who launch missiles from 3000 miles away are the cowards”. So it was very shocking. In that climate, he was very courageous, so I’ve always been a fan of his.
A highly relevant fact which none of the panellists adds to this account is that, apparently, most of the 9/11 attackers were unaware that they would not survive their hijacking. So they were not sacrificing their lives — but they were using force against unprepared civilians. Is that not cowardly? Bill Maher probably could not have known that. The article hyperlinked above is from 14 October 2001, whereas Maher’s comment had been delivered on 17 September. Still, in hindsight, to leave this information out verges on misleading. Greg Gutfeld remarks on the riskiness of Maher’s statement given its timing, so someone could have offered the context I outlined above. It is not as though “The Five” were so pressed for time that they had to speak in bullet points.
Incidentally, the American soldiers who killed Bin Laden showed far greated heroism than those 9/11 terrorists. In the runup to the attack on Bin Laden’s hideout, there seemed to be a strong possibility that Bin Laden was not even there, and the American warriors sent to kill him believed they would die in the attempt.
Also, as you may have noticed, Rivera misstated the date of Maher’s remark, which in actuality had come not “a few weeks”, but less than a week, after 9/11. This inaccuracy also makes the outrage that ensued over Maher’s statement seem all the more unreasonable (the panellists claim that he lost his show because of it).
All of this leaves an unpleasant aftertaste only compounded by Kennedy’s remark that the “healthy” development noted by Gutfeld “is healthy when you look at it from a Libertarian perspective”. What a shame. For crying out loud, even Objectivists think Libertarians are too soft on national security. I can only hope that she used the term here in the same partial sense as, say, Ben Shapiro does.
Now, all this grousing is not meant to disparage “The Five” entirely. I consider it a fairly good programme — at least when the panel includes someone like Geraldo Rivera to chime in with a less right-wing perspective now and again. Yet, again, when one is watched by millions on television, I think one should not allow oneself to get sloppy — as much as the show’s casual, homey style adds to its charm.