Commentary: Newsletter Peddlers Offended by Real Journalism Quit

Stephen Hayes and Jonah Goldberg
by Julie Kelly


An 82-second movie trailer was supposedly all it took for two of the most perpetually outraged—and chronically wrong—political pundits to quit their gigs at Fox News.

“The trailer for Tucker Carlson’s special about the Jan. 6 mob at the Capitol landed online on Oct. 27, and that night Jonah Goldberg sent a text to his business partner, Stephen Hayes: ‘I’m tempted just to quit Fox over this,’” New York Times media columnist Ben Smith revealed in an unnecessarily lengthy article on November 21 to explain why the pair resigned before they were let go by the network, as a Fox executive later confirmed to the Washington Post. “‘I’m game,’ Mr. Hayes replied. ‘Totally outrageous. It will lead to violence. Not sure how we can stay.’”

Carlson’s documentary, “Patriot Purge,” aired in three separate segments on the network’s streaming service, Fox Nation, a few days later. It’s unclear whether Goldberg or Hayes watched the film in its entirety but additional commentary—given to Smith over Zoom while “clad in athleisure,” a word intended to lend muscularity to two of the laziest commentators in the business—suggests that neither did.

Their beef with Carlson, aside from obvious jealousy over his success and influence, is with the notion there is a domestic war on terror. Hayes told the Times it’s “not true” the Biden regime is launching a “domestic war on terror and it’s coming for half of the country.” In a follow-up post published on The Dispatch, the $6 million blog Hayes and Goldberg founded in 2019, the indolent duo continued to attack Carlson for suggesting a domestic war on terror is underway: “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.”


Set aside the irony that the former editor-in-chief of the first war on terror’s biggest propaganda organ, the now-shuttered Weekly Standard—which Hayes, consumed by contempt for Donald Trump and his supporters, ran into the ground in 2018—is now dismissing evidence of a domestic war on terror; Hayes and Goldberg, fulfilling their role as useful idiots for the Left, are wrong once again.

In fact, their quibble shouldn’t be with Carlson but with Joe Biden and his apparatchiks in the federal government and in Congress because they are boasting about using the pretext of January 6 to launch a domestic war on terror aimed at the political Right.

On his first day in office, Biden directed his national security team to conduct an evaluation on how to “address domestic terrorism, which has evolved into the most urgent terrorism threat the United States faces today.” In June, Attorney General Merrick Garland released a 32-page report outlining how the federal government can tackle the imaginary threat of domestic terrorists, code for Americans on the Right.

The report gives intelligence, national security, and law enforcement agencies the green light to utilize any and all authority in their powerful arsenal to track suspected domestic terrorists. Part of the plan recommends a screening process allowing supervisors to fire suspected domestic terrorists who are “employed within our military or law enforcement ranks.” Private sector “partners” of the U.S. government would be trained to prevent individuals who “pose domestic terrorism threats from being placed in positions of trust.”

Now, the document does not define exactly what qualifies a citizen as a “domestic terrorist” nor does it need to do so. A “domestic terrorist” is in the eye of the beholder, and right now, that all-seeing eye is in the hands of a dangerous, reckless, and vengeful regime targeting Capitol trespassers and protesting parents with impunity.

If Hayes and Goldberg scoff at the notion of a domestic war on terror, perhaps they should confront FBI Director Christopher Wray to argue that January 6 should not have been designated an “act of domestic terror,” as Wray did during his March 2 congressional testimony. They should publicly object to Wray’s use of geofence warrants, FBI informants and undercover agents, and subpoenas issued to Big Tech companies to collect private information from users’ social media accounts for evidence in government charging and sentencing documents.

They should object also to Garland’s office referring to nonviolent Capitol protesters as “domestic terrorists” and asking federal judges to impose harsh prison sentences in order to “deter” future domestic terrorists and adding “terrorism enhancements” to sentencing guidelines.

Hayes and Goldberg might also want a word with Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, the Biden appointee managing 17 intelligence agencies purportedly responsible for tracking foreign terror threats, who published a flimsy bulletin earlier this year warning that Americans with political wrongthink pose a heightened threat to the homeland. This includes people who believe “narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the US Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories,” Haines wrote. Anyone who buys into “perceived government overreach” also might be motivated to commit violence, according to Haines.

That vagueness acts as Haines’ official imprimatur to permit every agency under her control to deploy intelligence tools against Americans clearly aligned with the political Right. Now, maybe Hayes and Goldberg honestly believe Haines’ description does not apply to half the country. Therefore, they should quantify in a future blog post what percentage of the country disputes the outcome of the 2020 election, lockdown, vaccine, and mask mandates, and other random “conspiracy theories.” I’m sure their keen, precise minds will produce a more accurate figure. (Eye-roll.)

Hayes and Goldberg are outraged at imagery in Carlson’s documentary that shows someone being waterboarded and Carlson’s reference to “a Guantanamo Bay for American citizens.” No wonder they seem confused.

A quick internet search for any column authored by either man related to the D.C. jail specifically used to incarcerate January 6 defendants under pre-trial orders demanded by Biden’s Justice Department came up empty. So, too, did any condemnation of the documented harsh conditions of the jail, which includes reports of abuse by prison guards, extended periods of solitary confinement, lack of access to defense attorneys, humiliating strip searches, and such poor medical treatment that a federal judge recently released a Stage 3 cancer patient after prison officials refused to give him the necessary care to treat his disease.

Keep in mind, the January 6 detainees now behind bars have been denied release not because they pose a legitimate threat to the community, but because they protested the incoming Biden regime and doubt the outcome of the 2020 election. This is all evidenced in charging documents, court hearings, and FBI interviews.

None of which, of course, either Hayes or Goldberg has deigned to cover.

Hayes and Goldberg might technically be correct that no one yet has been waterboarded, but surely the nearly 700 January 6 defendants will be eager to share their accounts of enduring pre-dawn, armed FBI raids where agents terrorized families and neighborhoods in a deliberate show of force; handcuffed and physically dragged suspects including at least one disabled veteran; often refused to present warrants as homes were ransacked; interrogated citizens about their political beliefs; and seized electronic devices including those belonging to their children.

Numerous January 6 defendants, even those accused of no violent crimes, can tell Hayes and Goldberg about their inclusion on restrictive TSA lists that result in hours-long delays at airports, invasive pat-downs, and nonstop following by TSA agents in a very public attempt to further humiliate them.

As someone who has covered this abusive prosecution and associated issues, I could go on and on.

But Hayes and Goldberg, despite their promise to provide “fact-based reporting and commentary . . . informed by conservative principles,” are not interested in the truth. (Interesting to note The Dispatch also is a paid Facebook fact-checker, a tidbit most outlets ignored.)

They are invertebrate frauds who got ahead of their imminent firings by swindling an all-too-eager corporate media system into believing they, not Tucker Carlson, hold the moral high ground and fealty to facts.

Hayes and Goldberg now end their careers at Fox as washed-up has-beens, slinking off into a political Siberia where their only future relevance will be to serve as a cautionary tale on how to squander what little talent or connections one ever had to take a parting shot at a far more influential rival while giving cover to an abusive regime hellbent on destroying the audience that helped elevate them to fame.

Good riddance.

– – –

Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―And Failed―To Take Down the President. Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. She is the co-host of ‘Happy Hour podcast with Julie and Liz.’ She is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University and lives in suburban Chicago with her husband and two daughters.
Photo “Steve Hayes” by Fox News and photo “Jonah Goldberg” by Jonah Goldberg.








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