This week’s BCC Interview is with Fox and Friends Weekend co-host Pete Hegseth. Hegseth is also the author of the new book, “Modern Warriors, Real Stories from Real Heroes,” and is hosting this year’s Patriot Awards, which originated on FOX Nation and re-airs on Fox News at 10pmET.
We emailed about Trump, the 2020 election, and where things stand now, the media coverage over the past four years, veterans and the military and more. And then, with all BCC Interviews, I published it in full, below. Check out past BCC Interviews with Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld or Ben Smith of the New York Times, and subscribe to Fourth Watch here. Read the full interview below…
From: Steve Krakauer
To: Pete Hegseth
Thanks so much for doing this. There’s a lot I want to talk about, particularly your new book “Modern Warriors” and the Patriot Awards airing Sunday night. We’ll get to that in our next email, but I want to start with some big news this week, about the announced drawdown of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan coming early next year. As a veteran of both wars, I’m curious your thoughts on this – and in general, on President Trump and his administration, which has been somewhat more dove-ish than perhaps was expected and certainly when compared to recent past GOP presidents.
Staying on President Trump, you’ve gotten a chance to interview you several times – in fact you were at one point rumored to be considered for a role in the administration. Assuming there is not some massive voter fraud uncovered between now and December 14 and Trump leaves office January 20 (another topic for a later email!), what do you think will be remembered about this administration? And as someone who knows Donald Trump better than most, what do you think most people – particularly people in a media that has been fighting him as if he’s an existential threat for 4 years now – miss about the person he is?
Thanks for doing this, feel free to throw any questions my way…
From: Pete Hegseth
To: Steve Krakauer
On the troop drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq, I am a veteran of both wars and I think it’s the right time. I’ve been an advocate of successfully finishing both wars. In 2007, I led an effort and 2007, 2008, 2009 to fight for the surge in Iraq, believing we could have a successful outcome there. I went to Afghanistan in 2011, serving very optimistic, ultimately in both cases 20 years later, I think it’s time to revisit the entire mission set and whether it’s worth a long term commitment to those places. They’ve had two decades of being trained by the best military in the world and ultimately, if they’re not ready to stand on their own two feet, it says more about them than it does about the United States mission. So I’m honored, I appreciate the legacy completely. All the blood and treasure we spilled in the sands and streets of Iraq and Afghanistan. But I think it’s time to make sure we reorient toward threats around the globe that are growing by the day to include the Chinese military. So it’s not an easy decision to make but what you will hear a lot of is, we have to follow the conditions on the ground. I talked about conditions on the ground a lot when I was an advocate for these wars. And sometimes the condition is they’re never going to meet the condition and ultimately you have to make your own decision in advance of your own strategic interests. The irony is that the bad war that they told us was so bad, the Iraq war was the one that was so much more capable of a fertile outcome, educated citizenry, history of a bureaucracy and a central government, an economy. But ultimately, Iran filled the vacuum that it made especially clear with the rise of ISIS after the abandonment. Afghanistan is biblical times with AK47s and cell phones and just doesn’t have the seeds for the kind of central government we wanted to set up. I hope the peace with the Taliban works, I am very skeptical that it won’t. And ultimately, this is the right move by President Trump, he said he would do it and he’s doing it.
That he says what he’s going to do, he’s one of the first politicians, it’s not ironic that he wasn’t a politician, to say this is what I’m going to do and then got elected and stayed committed to doing it. And you can go over the list of things that he’s done from the tax cuts to deregulation to removing us from the terrible Iran deal and the Paris climate accord, which did not put America first, considering what other nations were able to do. Building the wall, rebuilding the wall, which he did, rebuilding our military, crushing ISIS, moving the embassy, you could go on and on about the successes of this administration simply because he did what he said he would do. I think the thing that we will miss is someone who’s willing to speak the truth and be blunt about it. Political correctness is a poison to our society and Donald Trump upended that, forcing us to have an honest conversation. What will I miss about the person he is? His willingness to take on the media, take on the total left wing spin and when he calls it the enemy of the people, he’s not wrong. When you deceive people intentionally, they reject that and he was a breath of fresh air. I think for conservatives he was willing to fight, take on his opponents in a way that Republicans usually wouldn’t. And I think that’s a legacy hopefully that lives well beyond him, whether he wins or runs again or whatever, that the deck is stacked against patriots and conservatives in a way that if you don’t fight, your backed into a corner and unable to advance the kind of things you believe in for this country. That America is a good place, that capitalism is good, that we shouldn’t be socialists, things like that, that are quite basic. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, all of that. Donald Trump is the same person in private that he is in public and I think that’s what people value in him is the authenticity across the board.
From: Steve Krakauer
To: Pete Hegseth
I want to stick with your military background because I think, frankly, we need more veterans in the media across the board, and you’ve done such an admirable job in your position of profile to shine a light on veterans. I’ve seen a lot of subpar reporting and coverage in the media of the military and military issues. If not outright antipathy toward the military, at least some clear degree of ignorance. Do you think this is a concerning blindspot among a lot of the media, particularly the legacy media based largely in NYC and DC?
On that point, two other things I wanted to ask you about. First, you hosted Fox Nation’s Patriot Awards, which is airing again this weekend on Fox News, honoring military veterans, first responders and others. Why was this important to you? What do you think it brings to the Fox audience? And on that point, your book “Modern Warriors: Real Stories from Real Heroes” comes out next week. What brought you to put this together? And what did you learn reporting this out?
From: Pete Hegseth
To: Steve Krakauer
Absolutely. It’s a blind spot. It is, I think, an unintentional one. It’s the people who have been in the journalist class for generations are not necessarily people joining the military. East Coast, journalism schools, Ivy League schools and that’s not the same crop usually as you get in the military, which is unfortunate. And as a result, you get a lot of people in the media who have not only no experience, but very little connection or understanding or even family history in the media. Does it lead to antipathy? Maybe. More significantly, I think it leads to a lack of understanding of the complexity, of the depth of commitment, of the really difficult decisions made in real time, you know, triggers pulled in a half second based on incomplete information. It’s the middle of the night. You haven’t slept. Who’s the enemy? Who’s the friendly? Where are you? And that translates into how much I’ve been committed to war fighters who have come back and get accused of things. But it also feeds into my understanding on law enforcement who face a lot of the same challenges. If you haven’t walked in the shoes of a police officer, it’s hard to bring the kind of condemnation so many in the legacy media and left wing media bring on these heroes is to criticize them immediately and say, well, why didn’t you do this? Or why didn’t you use non-lethal? Why didn’t you use Taser? Why didn’t you tackle them? Or why didn’t you shoot him in the leg? All these things you hear that have no translation or connection to the real training or the real understanding of how difficult those jobs really are. So I do take very seriously that role as someone who’s been in the military to try to give voice to the real experiences of people. And I get texts and calls all the time from guys I serve with saying, ‘Hey Pete, you missed this or you should have been looking at this, or what about this angle or this is what we’re seeing right now in the teams or what we’re facing.’ And I try to bring that out in my commentary so that it is truly connected and tethered to those still serving and what they’re actually facing, as opposed to some detached sort of elitist view of the perfect way in which things are always done. So, yes, I try to shine a light on vets in the military without making it about me, but also to give the granularity to situations that so few in the media have.
Obviously I am proud of the book Modern Warriors. It’s an extension of the show on Fox Nation, it tells the real story and takes you behind the scenes. It’s raw, it’s blunt, it’s not politically correct, it’s the real experience of combat, the real experience of brotherhood, service, sacrifice, and transitioning back home. And ultimately, it came from the program on Fox Nation Modern Warriors, which came from an idea that three minute segments do not do justice to what these warriors do. I wanted to get them in a comfortable setting where they really told the real story a that’s why the Fox Nation shows have been so successful and why this book will as well. I am honored that it’s the first Fox News book and I think it’ll really resonate with our audience. The Patriot Awards are the most patriotic night in America. I am beyond honored to host that again this year. Award shows are usually self-important actors giving trophies to other self-important actors, who don’t actually do anything heroic, they just play heroic people or other people on TV. These are the real heroes, the people who never expected to be recognized, let alone receive an award and just did it for all the right reasons, for love of country and love of their fellow man. The Unsung Hero Award, the Everyday Patriot Award, Most Valuable Patriot Award, Young Patriot Award. It is just cool to watch them get recognized and it’s heartening to watch. You’re going to cry, you’re going to well up and you’re going to be proud. It’s a night to showcase what Fox Nation stands for, what America stands for and that we elevate the right kind of stories. What you honor is a reflection of what you value and we’re honoring what we should and ought value. Support for our flag, support for our law enforcement, support for our military, support for freedom, support for patriotism. That’s what the Patriot Awards is all about. And it’s going to be a fantastic event like it was last year, even if it looks a little bit differently.
From: Steve Krakauer
To: Pete Hegseth
Yeah, I do think there are a lot of the blindspots you describe with so much of the media – and a lot of it comes from this uniformity of thought but that comes from a geographic bias, and other general sameness in background. But it also makes me think about the media specifically of the Trump Era. So before I ask you about that – are we… done with the Trump Era? There were a couple viral clips of you recently I saw over at my old home Mediaite wrestling with this odd moment we’re in right now, at least in terms of modern American politics. We know the bulk of the media is thrilled that Biden appears to be victorious and just wants Trump to concede. And then there is Trump who not only refuses to and is fighting it in court, but is actively saying he won. I guess the question is – where are we at here? Is it fair to say Joe Biden is the president-elect?
And then going back to the media – assuming Trump doesn’t uncover massive voter fraud, and Joe Biden is the president, how do you think the media that has spent four years obsessed with Donald Trump adjusts to this new situation? Will there be any lessons learned?
Ok last thing – let’s end on a positive note. Who are one or two non-Fox media members you find are essential in 2020?
Thanks for doing this, and for your work with the vets.
From: Pete Hegseth
To: Steve Krakauer
No, not at all. If anything, it’s only just beginning, because what he did more than anything is expose the depth of leftist take over in all of our institutions. It is the left that wants to talk about you being woke but it is actually conservatives and Republicans that have been woke by Trump to what we are up against. A military analogy I like to use is the most dangerous thing as an infantry officer I could faces is an L shaped near ambush, meaning the enemy’s surrounding us and we’re in the kill zone on the X and the worst thing you can do is sit on the X. The only thing you can do to survive a near ambush is to quickly find cover, throw whatever grenades you have at the enemy and then charge at the enemy. And the only hope you have in that moment is that the enemy reveals itself, exposes itself, and now you can engage with them. For years, Republicans sat on the X, sat in the kill zone, playing by the games of the left, the media rigged system and tried to shoot back but it was on the left’s terms. Donald Trump showed up and said, it’s time to charge and when you charge at them and fight harder than they’ve ever fought, they are forced to expose themselves. So the bias turned into an agenda, they exposed themselves for who they are and now we know. They can pretend like they’re unbiased, but we know. So I actually think we’re at the beginning of the Trump era, not the end, whether or not he is certified as the president at the end of all this.
We are still counting. I personally do not believe we have a President-elect Biden, yet. I am waiting for all the legal counsel to be voted, all the challenges to come to fruition, all the information to come to light, and at which point that happens, then there will be a president-elect in one way or another and there will be a peaceful transfer of power. But to have gone through what we went through for the last four years with the left never accepting the legitimacy, resisting, boycotting the inauguration, investigating, impeaching President Trump for four years, it is more than reasonable, especially in a year where you saw unprecedented amount of mail out and mail in ballots which are more prone to fraud. The signature declinations normally at three percent in some of these states, now it is down to point .05 percent and then stopping the count in the middle of the night. Things like that give enough reason for a pause that we can wait weeks, four weeks, six weeks to let it come to fruition. Joe Biden will do what he’s doing, talking about who he would appoint. That is all fine. But I don’t think it’s imperative on the president at all at this point to concede or give in on his attempt to make sure he exposes any fraud that does exist. It’s just patience and being learned to put up with the tantrum of the traditional legacy and left wing media.
No, of course not. They’re going to take a four year nap and they’re going to, just as they were a tool used effectively by the Obama administration to amplify his views. They will continue to do that, especially because Donald Trump is not going to go anywhere, he will be a part of the public conversation. You’ve seen at the press conferences, you see the way they treated him on the campaign, these are fellow travelers, these are fellow leftists, these are Democrats in these newsrooms who are going to try to find every reason to make it look like Joe Biden is succeeding and try to find every reason to discredit President Trump’s significant legacy. I have no faith in the media. I think the media is harmful to our republic in large part because it is so agenda driven on the left. Obviously, I’m not talking about Fox in that context, who I think gets it right.
I like the guys at Outkick that are taking sort of a conservative approach to sports media and media in general. I think there is a huge gap there with all of the politicization of sports. I think they are doing an indispensable thing in giving people a platform to provide that point of view, it’s actually interesting because it cuts against the grain of everything else you see in sports. Then I would say Parler, whether or not there’s a social media company that’s able to fill the free speech void left behind by Twitter, which is clearly in a suppressed and unfriendly place to supporters of the president and conservatives. So I think the president should switch over to Parler and if he did, it would make a huge change because people would have to listen to him.
I appreciate you taking the time to do this interview. Certainly interesting times, but the bulk of the fight is definitely still ahead. Thanks.