Watching the FOX News Channel current affairs show The Five, so named due to its five co-hosts and that it airs at 5 p.m. weeknights, is a constant in my home. If we can't watch it live, we record it to watch later.
There are myriad reasons for our loyalty but prime among them is the fact that my wife, who is not a political junkie by any means, has long been impressed by the knowledge, strength and delivery of Dana Perino, one of the show's co-hosts. Her admiration for Perino goes back to the days when Perino was White House Press Secretary under George W. Bush.
Added to Perino's charisma are the equal but different strengths of Kimberly Guilfoyle and Andrea Tantaros. Basically my wife believes these women – well educated, experienced in national and world matters, and possessing high levels of common sense – are good role models and she makes it a point to keep informed on issues of the day by listening to them on The Five.
Personally I also have noticed that these women, who rotate their appearances, are strikingly beautiful, but hey, that could just be me. Male co-host Greg Gutfeld brings another dose of much needed common sense, often with an infusion of righteous indignation, and Eric Bolling comes across as a father figure with an extensive knowledge of finance and business.
Then there is Bob Beckel, the lone, self-described, long-suffering liberal, who occasionally is spelled by Juan Williams. Beckel refers often to his early, hands-on involvement alongside his father in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Beckel does and should take great pride in his personal history in that tumultuous time, sometimes going on tirades if he thinks the issue is being disrespected or taken lightly.
However, Beckel also has a annoying habit of shooting from the hip, making comments on issues in which he has an emotional interest, but little in the way of direct knowledge. That in turn gets him a lot of whacks in the social media, some of which come from me when he goes off on issues related to the Vietnam War.
Such was the case on Friday's show when the panel was discussing the case of Army Private Bowe Bergdahl, who disappeared from his unit in Afghanistan, and later turned up in the company of the Taliban. His fellow soldiers say he is a deserter and traitor but President Obama traded the solider for five General-level international terrorists, promoting him to Sergeant as well.
The debate was whether we should engage in prisoner swaps, and whether that has been our history as a country. After virtually the entire panel repeated the inaccurate mantra that the US leaves no soldiers behind, the issue of POWs left in Korea arose, followed by Beckel speaking of prisoners left behind in Vietnam after the American involvement ended. Beckel made the unforgivable, reprehensible comment that those left behind were "deserters" and then mumbled something about the US attempting to rescue them.
This is a total crock on both counts. I have researched this issue both personally and as an investigative reporter for three decades and even though the Internet of late has been inundated with false "research" attempting to debunk the POW issue, there has been a ton of solid research which maintains that American POWs were left behind in Laos after the Paris Peace Accords of 1973.
Substantial research indicates that then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and others in the Nixon administration refused to negotiate directly with the Laotian communists, the Pathet Lao, who held the American prisoners. Since there were no direct negotiations with the Pathet Lao and subsequently no payment of billions in reparations allegedly promised by the Nixon administration, the Pathet Lao kept somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 US POWs, mostly airmen shot down over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the final years of the war.
They were honorable American troops serving the country they believed in; and they were deserted by their government. How many is not relevant. That they existed is relevant. They were not deserters and many Americans believe with good reason that the US government worked over decades – both parties – to hide their existence, not rescue them.
This is not new; Americans were left behind after WWI, WWII (Bill O'Reilly touches on this in his book Killing Patton), Korea and Vietnam.
Bob Beckel owes Vietnam veterans, Fox viewers, the American military and the families of those who were left behind by the government a sincere apology. And FOX should sit down with Mr. Beckel and impress on him the importance of speaking the truth, or staying quiet.
To be fair, there are times when I completely agree with Bob Beckel, and I hope that doesn't give anyone a heart attack. But it wouldn't hurt if someone at FOX reminded him of the saying that at times "It's better to keep your mouth closed and have people think you a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt."