Why is USAA paying Fox News to kill USAA members?

James Ellman
6 min readAug 3, 2021

Summary: Fox News presents an intentionally distorted view of the world and creates a rising sense of fear and outrage so as to sell advertising space and generate profits. Fox News undermines USAA’s core values of service, loyalty, honesty and integrity among its American viewers. Yet USAA continues to spend its members’ money to advertise on the network as a way to reach current and potential clients of its financial services products.

Fox actively works to make our nation less safe as it stokes racial tension and denies climate change (the latter highlighted by our military as a major threat to the peace and safety of the United States). Not only has Fox News aired recent segments denigrating the Army’s Chief of Staff, the network has worked actively to kill USAA members by convincing them to not receive a COVID-19 vaccine. With so many other ways to advertise to members of the military and their families besides Fox News, what conclusion are we to draw other than one that points to USAA management placing profits and market share above the health of its members and the values they hold dear?

Detail: I have been a loyal member of USAA for more than 30 years. I believe in the organization’s values and always thought that it followed them in its efforts to fulfill its mission to its members. However, USAA continues to advertise on Fox News even in the face of massive documented proof that the network promulgates lies, racism, fear, and denigration of service to others. Fox News not only admits that it is an outlet of lies, it has taken its anti-USAA message to a new level of late as it has allowed its commentators to denigrate the character and intelligence of our military leaders and Democratically elected officials, celebrate those who violently attacked the thin blue line protecting the Capitol on 1/6/21 in DC as “patriots” and “freedom fighters”, and actively work to kill our fellow Americans through the promulgation of anti-vaccination fear-porn.

For more than a year and a half Fox News and its commentators told its audience that COVID-19 is a hoax, that it is no worse than the flu, that vaccines are more dangerous than the disease and wearing a mask is a massive infringement on one’s personal liberties. Thus, it should be no surprise that viewers of the network have been more likely to contract the coronavirus and less likely to be vaccinated than those who get their news elsewhere. One would imagine that Fox would have blood on its hands considering that more than 600,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 to date. But of course it does not, because Fox argues in court that ‘reasonable’ viewers should realize that its programming is “not stating actual facts”, “is engaged in exaggeration” and “non-literal commentary” (such are the words used by Fox’s lawyers in court). So much for the slogan, “Most Watched, Most Trusted”.

Fox News has constantly focused on potential dangers of COVID-19 vaccines, almost never talking about how vaccinations are a form of service to our community — accepting some small level of personal risk so as to protect the greater society, especially those weaker and less fortunate than ourselves. The tenor of Fox programming is completely in contrast with USAA’s core value of service. Spewing false data that getting vaccinated is very dangerous in the absence of proof is completely at odds with USAA’s core value of honesty and integrity. Undermining belief in the validity of the patriotic efforts of BOTH parties in our two-party system undermines the USAA core value of loyalty. Yet USAA continues to advertise on Fox News…as a way to reach current and potential members.

One would think that USAA might finally reconsider spending its members’ money on advertising when Tucker Carlson called Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley a ‘pig’ and ‘stupid’, but you would be wrong. Direct denigration of the character and integrity of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff a problem for USAA management? Apparently not.

As the ‘Delta’ variant spreads across the US and creates an epidemic of hospitalizations and death for the unvaccinated, one would imagine that major US news outlets would cover such a life-or-death issue. Most have and most do — USA Today, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times all have highlighted coverage of this story and highlighted that those being hospitalized and dying of the virus are unvaccinated. Fox News does not. A casual glance at the foxnews.com website on any given day of late shows almost no news on COVID-19 except perhaps a photo of a Democratic Party grandee caught on camera not wearing a mask or wild assertions that China intentionally created and released the virus (the latter may be true, but in no way reduces the current risk of the disease to Americans).

The truth is that every day of the week Fox’s Chairman, the vaccinated Rupert Murdoch, shovels both USAA money into his vault and dirt onto the graves of unvaccinated USAA members who have died of the disease.

As I mentioned in an earlier Medium.com post, I reached out to USAA’s CEO on numerous occasions to ask why the organization continues to advertise on Fox News. I have received answers more appropriate to amoral companies like Purdue Pharma, or Enron rather than a supposedly purpose-driven organization like USAA. I recently cancelled my longstanding homeowner’s insurance policy with USAA. When I did so, I have to admit I was a bit sad. But it also felt good.

Note 1 — sources to back up claims in this essay can be found at the following URLs:

Verification of the falsehoods of Fox News can be found at many sources. Politifact is an excellent source with postings such as -


Fox News’ defense that it can’t be sued for libel due to the fact that no one should believe what is on its network -


Fox News calling the Capitol rioters freedom fighters -


Tucker Carlson on air calling General Milley a pig -


Tucker Carlson on his support of the racist great replacement theory –


Fox News’ impact on those who do…and don’t get the COVID-19 vaccination -



Note 2 — I want to make perfectly clear that I did not serve in the US military. I was able to become a USAA member through my father’s service in the US Navy. My employment with the US Government was as a lowly bank examiner at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.