WASHINGTON — An Army watchdog report has found a top general broke social media protocol by taking on Fox News host Tucker Carlson and other right-wingers on Twitter last year.
An investigation by the Army’s Office of the Inspector General found Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe, the former commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Ga., brought “negative publicity” to the Army for engaging in social media arguments over the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for troops and criticizing Carlson’s critique of gender-based military reforms, according to the Washington Post and Task & Purpose.
Donahoe first clashed with Carlson in March 2021 after the top-rated TV personality criticized the Pentagon for making a “mockery of the US military” by introducing new hairstyles for women and flight suits for pregnant service members.
“While China’s military becomes more masculine as it has assembled the world’s largest navy, our military needs to become as, Joe Biden says, more feminine — whatever feminine means anymore,” Carlson said at the time.
In response, Donahoe posted a video of himself re-enlisting a female staff sergeant with the caption: “Just a reminder that @TuckerCarlson couldn’t be more wrong.” Several other Army leaders tweeted in agreement, leading Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to write Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin regarding Donahoe and other military leaders’ public criticism of Carlson.
“This spectacle risks politicizing the military after several centuries of efforts to keep military officials out of domestic affairs, undermining civil-military relations by having the military take a side in a contentious cultural dispute and the perception that military leaders are happily weaponizing the institution against political critics of the sitting administration,” Cruz said in the letter.
During the Army investigation, Donahoe told investigators he did not believe his response to Carlson was “partisan activity,” instead calling it an “attempt to defend” female soldiers, according to Task & Purpose.
Four months later, Donahoe called out Josiah Lippincott, a veteran studying at Hillsdale College in Michigan, where the general was giving a lecture. Lippincott had criticized Donahoe’s support for mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for troops. In response, the general tagged Lippincott in a tweet to the college saying, “come get your boy.”
That tweet made national news, and was included in segments fronted by Carlson and fellow Fox News host Laura Ingraham.
“He doesn’t seem as interested in keeping the country safe as he does in promoting a very specific political point of view,” Carlson said of Donahoe during a segment that aired July 27, 2021. “He spends most of his time apparently online harassing political opponents of the Biden administration.”
The Army OIG called the exchange with Lippincott “unwise,” finding it “had the potential to bring discredit on the Army,” according to the Washington Post.
“[Donahoe’s] use of sarcasm and ‘snarky’ tweets to private citizens was in poor taste, clearly displayed poor judgment, and ran counter to Army values,” the report added, according to the newspaper.
The investigation ultimately found Donahoe’s tweets “exhibited poor judgment” and prompted “subsequent media coverage … [that] cast the Army in a negative light,” according to Task & Purpose.
It remains unclear how the report’s findings will affect Donahoe’s expected retirement this year. His departure from the service was paused while the internal investigation was carried out.
The Army did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning.