We joined Fox News as contributors in early 2009. Combined, that’s more than 20 years of experience, relationships, and friendships. For most of that time, we were proud to be associated with the network, if not necessarily with every program, opinion, or scandal that aroused controversy. We believed, sincerely, that the country needed Fox News. Whether you call it liberal media bias or simply a form of groupthink around certain narratives, having a news network that brought different assumptions and asked different questions—while still providing real reporting and insightful conservative analysis and opinion—was good for the country and journalism.
Fox News still does real reporting, and there are still responsible conservatives providing valuable opinion and analysis. But the voices of the responsible are being drowned out by the irresponsible.
A case in point: Patriot Purge, a three-part series hosted by Tucker Carlson.
The special—which ran on Fox’s subscription streaming service earlier this month and was promoted on Fox News—is presented in the style of an exposé, a hard-hitting piece of investigative journalism. In reality, it is a collection of incoherent conspiracy-mongering, riddled with factual inaccuracies, half-truths, deceptive imagery, and damning omissions. And its message is clear: The U.S. government is targeting patriotic Americans in the same manner —and with the same tools—that it used to target al Qaeda.
“The domestic war on terror is here. It’s coming after half of the country,” says one protagonist. “The left is hunting the right, sticking them in Guantanamo Bay for American citizens—leaving them there to rot,” says another, over video of an individual in an orange jumpsuit being waterboarded.
This is not happening. And we think it’s dangerous to pretend it is. If a person with such a platform shares such misinformation loud enough and long enough, there are Americans who will believe—and act upon—it.
This isn’t theoretical. This is what actually happened on January 6, 2021.
Over the past five years, some of Fox’s top opinion hosts amplified the false claims and bizarre narratives of Donald Trump or offered up their own in his service. In this sense, the release of Patriot Purge wasn’t an isolated incident, it was merely the most egregious example of a longstanding trend. Patriot Purge creates an alternative history of January 6, contradicted not just by common sense, not just by the testimony and on-the-record statements of many participants, but by the reporting of the news division of Fox News itself.
Indeed, the news side of Fox routinely does what it is supposed to do: It reports the truth. COVID-19 is deadly, vaccines work, Joe Biden won Arizona, the election was not stolen, January 6 was not a Deep State-orchestrated “false flag” operation but was an assault on the Capitol as part of a broader attempt to steal an election: The people who put the “news” in Fox News have reported all of these things.
This is not the place to expound at any length on the many problems and challenges facing the country. But we sincerely believe that all people of good will and good judgment—regardless of their ideological or partisan commitments—can agree that a cavalier and even contemptuous attitude toward facts, truth-seeking, and truth-telling, lies at the heart of so much that plagues our country.
We started The Dispatch two years ago “to do right as we see it, by providing engaged citizens fact-based reporting and commentary on politics, policy and culture—informed by conservative principles.” We made a promise to our readers and members that we’d challenge our own assumptions as we challenged theirs, and that we wouldn’t pull punches. The tension between doing that work well and remaining loyal to Fox has tested us many times over the past few years. But with the release of Patriot Purge, we felt we could no longer “do right as we see it” and remain at Fox News. So we resigned.
We remain grateful for the opportunities we’ve had at Fox and we continue to admire many of the hard-working journalists who work there. This is our last recourse. We do not regret our decision, even if we find it regrettably necessary.