The Pentagon attacked Fox News on Thursday, falsely claiming that host Tucker Carlson had “dissed diversity” when he criticized the military’s efforts to help women in the armed forces.
The Pentagon’s official website published a news update titled: “Press Secretary Smites Fox Host That Dissed Diversity in U.S. Military.”
It quoted Press Secretary John Kirby saying that “the diversity of our military is one of our greatest strengths.” It did not provide Tucker’s allegedly offensive comment.
Carlson did not say anything at all about “diversity” in the military. Rather, he was responding to President Joe Biden’s comments on Monday about women, describing efforts to ensure they could “feel safe and respected in our military.”
Biden said (emphasis added):
I’m incredibly proud that in 2015, under the Obama-Biden administration, we took the final steps to open up all positions in the military to anyone qualified to serve in them. The women who join today’s military aren’t told “no” when they apply to fly fighter jets or attack helicopters just because of their gender. They aren’t told “no” when they want to apply to Ranger School or infantry officer basic training.
But they all know that there’s much, much more work to be done to ensure that women’s leadership is recognized and we have more diverse leaders; we reach the top echelons of command for all who are qualified, including all women — all women; and that all women feel safe and respected in our military — period.
You know, some of — some of it is relatively straightforward work where we’re making good progress designing body armor that fits women properly; tailoring combat uniforms for women; creating maternity flight suits; updating — updating requirements for their hairstyles.
Carlson seized on the latter comment, nothing that while China is trying to make male adolescents more “masculine,” while rapidly developing a naval force to rival that of the U.S., Biden is focused on making the U.S. military more open to women.
So we’ve got new hairstyles and maternity flight suits. Pregnant women are going to fight our wars. It’s a mockery of the U.S. military. While China’s military becomes more masculine, as it’s assembled the world’s largest navy, our military needs to become more feminine — whatever feminine means anymore, because men and women no longer exist. The bottom line is it’s out of control. The Pentagon is going along with it. This is a mockery of the U.S. military and its core mission, which is winning wars.
Carlson was a bit strident in two respects. First, pregnant women are not fighting our wars. The U.S. military does not send pregnant women into combat; pregnant women are often taken out of roles that would be physically difficult or dangerous.
Second, efforts to help pregnant women in the armed forces are not unique to the Biden administration. Under President Donald Trump, the military launched a new policy aimed at preventing discrimination against pregnant service members.
However, Carlson’s broader argument is a philosophical one: a military that is focused on gender inclusion may not be as focused on winning wars.
America’s rivals, notably China, are focused on building the size and strength of their militaries rather than on making sure women “feel safe and respected.” The two are not always mutually exclusive — but perhaps they can be.
The issue is more salient when it comes to the issue of transgender soldiers, who may have to be taken off active duty for gender reassignment surgery. There, a desire to include transgender soldiers can have a direct impact on military readiness.
Regardless, the use of the Pentagon to attack a news network and a host crosses a new boundary. The Pentagon website attacked “a Fox cable host”; the senior enlisted leader in the U.S. Space Command attacked Carlson by name, claiming that his opinion was less valid because Carlson himself had not served in the military.
(For the record, I have not served, but my wife, now pregnant with our third child, has been a Navy reservist for ten years.)
The idea that civilians lack authority to criticize military policy is hostile to the principle of civilian control of the armed forces. The fact that the Pentagon is willing to violate that principle to attack a conservative critic suggests the military is becoming dangerously politicized.
The Pentagon’s attack on Fox News and Tucker Carlson suggests that the Biden administration is willing to use the military as a political weapon — and that some of its leaders are eager to lead the charge.
The issue of pregnant women in the military is largely moot. The military is not about to send pregnant women to the front lines in the name of “diversity.” But the Pentagon is using a cheap shot at Carlson and Fox to send a warning to potential critics — especially if they are civilians. It is an inappropriate abuse of power, and a violation of the public trust.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is How Not to Be a Sh!thole Country: Lessons from South Africa. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.