Fox News Guest Indicted on Fraud Charges
Wayne Simmons, a Fox News guest, was just indicted after it was discovered that he was lying about his qualifications. Despite repeatedly appearing as a guest on Fox News programs and proclaiming to be a former CIA agent, it turns out he never worked for the CIA.
— Media Matters (@mmfa) October 15, 2015
While Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti has emphasized that Simmons was never paid, he has appeared as a guest commentator on various Fox News programs, including “Fox & Friends,” and has been interviewed by Sean Hannity and Neil Cavuto. It’s unclear how many times he appeared on the network; his website lists dozens of appearances on various programs. While he technically portrayed himself to Fox as an “outside paramilitary special operations officer” with 23 years of experience, the title he was often given on various shows was “former CIA operative,” most likely for the sake of brevity.
A grand jury just indicted Simmons on a number of different charges, including major fraud against the United States, wire fraud, making false statements to the government, and the fact that he used those fake claims in order to gain security clearances and confidential information. Bizarrely, the indictment also included charges that he was involved in a real estate scheme that scammed an unnamed individual out of $125,000. According to the indictment, he used his fake CIA credentials to bolster his credibility to conduct that endeavor. Federal prosecutors claim that this indictment didn’t come out of the blue, as he allegedly has a:
Significant criminal history, including convictions for a crime of violence and firearms offenses, and is believed to have had an ongoing association with firearms notwithstanding those felony convictions.
It was also noted that he “has a history of acting in an aggressive manner, and is likely aware of the imminent nature of the charges in this case.”
During his varied appearances, Simmons said some pretty incendiary thing–here’s an example of an appearance he made on “Fox and Friends,” in which he was listed as a “former CIA operative”:
In that particular appearance he called Obama “the boy king.” This January he claimed that there were “at least 19 paramilitary Muslim training facilities in the United States.” He also at one point claimed that waterboarding was not torture.
Despite the fact that Fox News apparently never paid the commenter, and he wasn’t officially sanctioned by the network in any way, this still doesn’t look very good. By having him on the show, the network tacitly said that he did have something worth hearing. Just because he wasn’t paid doesn’t mean that his microphone was any less real.