In a fascinating, must-read article about the downfall of Wayne Simmons, Fox’s fraudulent “ex-CIA” terrorism expert, whose only expertise now seems to be spewing purple-prosed right-wing rhetoric, reporter Alex French reveals that questions were raised to Fox about Simmons’ background long before he was arrested.
Despite the article’s title, “The Plot To Take Down A Fox News Analyst,” Simmons was never a paid contributor to Fox, which the article makes clear. However, Simmons was such an esteemed guest that Fox host Brian Kilmeade mistook him for one.
The article provides a good description of Simmons’ appearances on Fox News
By the time of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Simmons was a regular on the network, talking primarily about terrorism. His tidy gray mustache and smoky-lensed glasses lent him an air of mystery. Everything else about his appearance — the fullback’s neck, razor-sharp jawline and power suits — amplified his message of American supremacy through force. His opinions were cartoonishly belligerent. He defended the enhanced-interrogation techniques employed by the Bush-era C.I.A. In 2005, after Al Jazeera broadcast footage of Ayman al-Zawahri calling for jihad on the West, Simmons suggested one way to contain the terrorist’s message was to ‘‘locate Al Jazeera and blow them off the map.’’ He urged lawmakers to consider a moratorium on the construction of mosques in the United States. After The Times exposed the Bush administration’s covert terrorist-finance-tracking program in 2006, he suggested the paper’s sources ought to be imprisoned and maybe even face a firing squad.
… Simmons continued to appear on Fox, often pushing a message of wounded honor about [President Obama’s] national-security agenda. Shortly after the ‘‘underwear bomber’’ attack in Detroit, Simmons called Obama a ‘‘boy king’’ who emboldened terrorists and third-world despots. In 2009, after Nancy Pelosi claimed the C.I.A. misled her about waterboarding, Simmons called her a ‘‘pathological liar’’ who had made the agency soft, weakening national security.
In January, 2015, shortly after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Simmons said on Fox:
"(W)e’ve got at least 19 paramilitary Muslim training facilities in the United States. …They’re using paramilitary exercises to plan and execute these types of operations all over the United States, and when it happens, it’ll just be you and I saying we told you so."
But as early as 2011, doubts about Simmons had been raised. Reporter Alex French writes about the efforts of former CIA officer Ken Clizbe and his former boss, only identified as “M.,” to expose Simmons.
M. alerted Paul Vallely, the retired two-star general who founded Stand Up America, an organization that promotes a conservative foreign-policy agenda through analysis on cable-news networks and talk radio. Vallely met Simmons through Fox News and invited him to serve on the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, a collection of military brass, C.I.A. officers and politicians determined to uncover the truth about the September 2012 embassy attack in Libya. M. remained suspicious when Vallely failed to respond after a month. (Vallely declined to comment for this article, citing Simmons’s coming trial.)
Not mentioned is that Vallely was a military analyst for Fox, from 2000-2007, according to his Stand Up America bio.
M. also contacted Gary Berntsen, a decorated former C.I.A. counterterrorism officer and onetime Republican Senate candidate from New York. Berntsen made occasional appearances on Fox News and wasn’t surprised by M.’s message. ‘‘When I started doing television, senior agency guys were calling me on the phone and telling me: ‘That guy’s on television, he goes on the network you are on, he’s a fraud. Please tell them,’ ’’ Berntsen says. While waiting in the greenroom one day before going on Judge Jeanine’s show, Berntsen was approached by Col. David Hunt, a retired officer who had done special-operations work.
‘‘ ‘Can I ask you something?’ ’’ Berntsen recalls Hunt saying. ‘‘ ‘This guy Wayne Simmons, is he a fraud?’
‘‘Of course he’s a fraud,’’ Berntsen said he replied. ‘‘He’s a blithering idiot.’’
According to Berntsen, Hunt said that he too had been suspicious of Simmons and intended to inform Bill Shine, a senior programming executive at the network. He suspected Fox would heed Hunt’s warning. (Hunt did not respond to requests for comment.) But then, one morning, Berntsen was at the network’s studios to make an appearance on a radio show, and he bumped into Simmons. He asked Simmons what division of the C.I.A. he had served in. ‘‘If you’re an agency officer, you know exactly what to say,’’ Berntsen told me. But Simmons’s response was, he said, ‘‘bloody [expletive] gibberish.’’
[M.] began to alert Simmons’s media colleagues about his and Clizbe’s suspicion. One of them, a high-ranking military officer who worked as a paid contributor to Fox News, wrote: ‘‘I’ve had reservations for years. In my experience, some of the ‘programs’ he claims to have been a part of simply never existed. While he may have somehow been on the periphery of something, I’ve seen and heard nothing to convince me he was a NOC.’’ M. also notified Shine, the Fox senior programming executive; the Fox legal chief Dianne Brandi; and Neil Cavuto. Nobody wrote back to him. (These emails were obtained by The Times. Fox says Shine, Brandi and Cavuto have no record of receiving the emails.)
I think the networks owe it to their viewers, don’t you?
I’m not sure it matters. When I press hardcore right-wingers with various lies they’re fed quite frankly they don’t care. I’m serious.
Some friends used to include me on a list of right-wing chain mail they regularly – pretty much daily – forwarded around. After me debunking each and every one as a fraud – usually as simple as visiting Snopes – their solution was to remove me from their lists. Many times they replied to me simply it was too late to correct their bulls**t, the email was already out. They didn’t care if it was a lie as long as it was attractive and easily sellable.
Welcome to Right-wing Land. Home to millions of hypocrites who gripe liberals are ‘low-information voters.’ ;^)