It’s unprecedented territory for the Pentagon to go after a private citizen and opinion journalist for being critical of the current administration. However, that’s just what happened when Tucker Carlson of Fox News made comments critical of President Joe Biden’s Defense Department wokeness campaign.
On the Tuesday edition of his show, Carlson criticized the president after comments during a Monday media briefing in which he talked about changing the culture of the military in ways like “designing body armor that fits women properly, tailoring combat uniforms for women, creating maternity flight suits, updating requirements for their hairstyles.”
Meanwhile, he noted that China, America’s most pressing adversary, was going in the opposite direction.
“China’s military becomes more masculine as it’s assembled the world’s largest navy, our military needs to become, as Joe Biden says, more feminine,” Carlson said.
He added that “identity politics is Joe Biden’s priority. It’s all that matters” and noted that “the U.S. military exists to fight and win wars. That is its only purpose. The U.S. military is not an NGO [nongovernmental organization]. It is not a vehicle for achieving equity. It is not a social experiment. It’s definitely not an employment agency.”
This led to plenty of pushback, including an official news release in which the Department of Defense bragged that a “Press Secretary Smites Fox Host That Dissed Diversity in U.S. Military.” Good use of time there.
But perhaps no one person became more emblematic of the strange reaction of the Pentagon than Master Gunnery Sgt. Scott Stalker.
Stalker, the senior enlisted leader of U.S. Space Command, took to his official Twitter account in uniform to excoriate Carlson.
— U.S. Space Command, Command Senior Enlisted Leader (@US_SpaceComCSEL) March 11, 2021
Stalker said the Fox News host’s “opinion, which he has a right to, is based off of actually zero days of service in the armed forces.”
Well, thank heavens he was willing to vouchsafe Carlson the right to his opinion. Apparently, though, to have any opinion about Biden’s wokeness initiative in the armed forces, you have to have served. (Carlson would later mock this line of criticism, which wasn’t specific to Stalker, by asking, “Can only cops talk about police brutality? If you haven’t been elected to office, can you criticize Congress?”)
Stalker called it “drama TV” — which was also an ironic descriptor, given that he was participating in drama social media video, and in his uniform at that.
“The bottom line is that we value women in our armed forces, we value those that have served in the past and we value those that have served today. We value our families in the military,” he said.
“Let’s remember that those opinions were made by an individual who has never served a day in his life.”
This quickly got a lot of pushback:
This video is a disgrace. You’re wearing the uniform and attacking a civilian for expressing his opinion. Disgusting. You should be removed from command.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) March 13, 2021
This guy is supposed to be the role model for our Space Command enlisted troops.
Fact check: he’s not and should be relieved of his position.
Who’s running “this outfit?”@usspacecom
— Buzz Patterson (@BuzzPatterson) March 13, 2021
But you didn’t actually make any sort of argument or rebuttal here. I am not even sure what was said.
— Allie Beth Stuckey (@conservmillen) March 13, 2021
The fact that Tucker served or not in the military is utterly irrelevant to the issue. This is like arguing that your oncologist is ill-equipped to comment about your cancer because bruh she never suffered from cancer. [I’ll retweet.]
— Gad Saad (@GadSaad) March 13, 2021
On Friday, Stalker issued a follow-up in which he sounded a bit desperate to defuse the controversy.
After saying that “the last 24 hours have been pretty intense for me,” he said he wouldn’t “engage in a personal attack with Mr. Carlson or anybody,” despite making the follow-up video specifically because he did that in the first place.
“I was making a nonpolitical statement about my service members and teammates in the United States armed forces,” Stalker continued. “I don’t make political comments, and I certainly don’t attack our media. I think they have a right, and it’s a necessity of this nation to have a fair and free press.”
However, he said his comments “were based on 28 years of service” and Carlson “doesn’t have any service.”
But don’t get the wrong idea! “That does not mean his points aren’t valid, and so I think everyone has a right to their opinion,” Stalker said.
My response to your responses. Thank you, be kind and have a nice weekend. pic.twitter.com/zPvSmBWeiX
— U.S. Space Command, Command Senior Enlisted Leader (@US_SpaceComCSEL) March 12, 2021
Pretty much everything he had to say here was either contradictory (in one instance) or demonstrably false (in the rest).
As for contradictory: Carlson’s points can still be valid but Stalker has served in the military for 28 years. (You know, just saying.)
And then there were the lies.
He engaged in a personal attack on Carlson specifically because he made it clear that Carlson’s opinion was “drama TV” that included “opinions … made by an individual who has never served a day in his life.”
He made a political statement inasmuch as he was inserting himself into an argument about the wisdom of using the military as a laboratory of identity politics.
As for not attacking our media? That’s what his first video was about. Simply saying that you’re not doing something at the same time as you’re doing it doesn’t excuse the behavior.
There is one point of truth in the video, however: I have no doubt that 24 hours was indeed intense for him, at least on social media.
Things didn’t get much better after his second video, even though he wasn’t in uniform.
— Jessie Jane Duff (@JessieJaneDuff) March 15, 2021
You are using an Official. Military. Site. to attack an American citizen for his opinion.
There are no excuses. Stop!
— Code of Vets ™ (@codeofvets) March 14, 2021
Good God, brother. You continue to use an official account to voice your personal opinions. That’s not your job, Marine.
Someone needs to be called into the commander’s office at 0600 tomorrow in his dress blues.@USMC
— Buzz Patterson (@BuzzPatterson) March 14, 2021
Here’s the problem: If he’s in the commander’s office at 0600 in his dress blues, getting ready to be read the riot act, it likely would be for apologizing, not for saying this in the first place.
Welcome to our new woke military.
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