The Nazi Talk On Fox News Starts At The Top

If you have ever wondered where Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity et al, get their propensity for accusing every liberal or Democrat of being a Nazi, the mystery is solved.

Roger Ailes is the chairman and CEO of Fox News. As such he can be considered the role model for his staff and the authority on the network’s journalistic doctrine. In an interview this week with The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz (Part 1, Part 2), Ailes demonstrated precisely the sort of example he hopes to set for his team. In response to a question about Juan Williams’ departure from NPR, Ailes said:

“They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view. They don’t even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive.”

That’s right. The folks at NPR are synonymous with a genocidal regime that murdered millions and sought to create a vast tyrannical empire for a “master race.” I always suspected that Lake Woebegone’s predominately white, Christian residents were secretly fascists.

This wasn’t a slip of the tongue. He said it three times. And if this is what he says in public to a reporter for The Daily Beast and CNN, just imagine what he says privately to direct the activities of his news producers, correspondents, and anchors. And what must Mara Liasson, an NPR correspondent and Fox News contributor, think of Ailes trashing her primary employer this way?

Ailes is guilty of a typical anti-Semitic tactic of trivializing the Holocaust in an attempt to dampen its historical impact and ultimately deny its existence. This is illustrated further when Ailes defended Glenn Beck’s atrocious smear of George Soros as a Nazi collaborator. Ailes dismissed the criticism directed at Beck by disparaging an imagined cabal of…

“…left-wing rabbis who basically don’t think that anybody can ever use word, Holocaust, on the air.”

Of course, there is no support for that statement. The Jewish organizations that condemned Beck’s programs are not averse to using the word, they merely object to it being used to slander actual Holocaust survivors, and to turning it into a colloquial insult. However, Ailes apparently believes the word should be used more frequently, no matter the context, and aimed at any progressive individual or institution that he doesn’t like. And his network is evidence of that belief. (See Lewis Black’s Nazi Tourettes)

The interview revealed several other examples of the inherent bias of a network that calls itself “fair and balanced.” On President Obama, Ailes advanced the notion that he is somehow “foreign” saying that…

“He just has a different belief system than most Americans.”

That must be why most Americans voted for him and still prefer him to every potential Republican opponent. They also prefer him to our previous president, George W. Bush, whom Ailes praised saying…

“This poor guy, sitting down on his ranch clearing brush, gained a lot of respect for keeping his mouth shut.”

I may have to give him that one. Keeping his mouth shut may be the only way Bush could ever gain respect. However, Ailes must not be paying attention because Bush hasn’t set foot in Crawford since he left the White House. His faulty attention span also missed some critical facts regarding Rupert Murdoch’s political contributions:

“Rupert Murdoch’s worked for 60 years. He’s the biggest media mogul in the world. I don’t think anyone can tell him what to do with his money. That’s sort of his right.”

Except that the millions of dollars that Murdoch donated to partisan GOP campaigns didn’t come out of his pocket. It was from News Corp, so it was the shareholders who were paying for his electoral largesse.

Finally, Ailes couldn’t help taking a swipe at a perennial foe whom he apparently thinks is another enemy of America: Jon Stewart.

“He openly admits he’s sort of an atheist and a socialist. […] He hates conservative views. He hates conservative thoughts. He hates conservative verbiage. He hates conservatives. He’s crazy.”

OK, let’s just set aside his hyperbolic derision of Stewart’s faith and patriotism. Ailes casts Stewart as crazy and hateful toward conservatives. But he sure gets along well with Bill O’Reilly, Newt Gingrich and many other conservatives who have been guests on his show. But here’s the fun part:

“If it wasn’t polarized, he couldn’t make a living. He makes a living by attacking conservatives and stirring up a liberal base against it. He loves polarization. He depends on it. If liberals and conservatives are all getting along, how good would that show be? It’d be a bomb.”

Couldn’t you make almost the exact same comment about Fox News? Just switch liberals and conservatives as the objects of attack and you have the Fox business model. And he’s right. Without the constant liberal bashing and polarization Fox would bomb. That’s because they don’t have any actual news to support their network.

Ailes exhibits a stunningly dense appreciation for reality. He is oblivious to what every objective analyst sees with crystal clarity. But the worst part remains his personal affinity for the sort of rhetoric that divides our nation. His embrace of Nazi and socialist slurs is a crucial part of the broadcast philosophy of Fox News, and now no one can wonder who set that repulsive and hostile tone that the rest of the network emulates.

Update: Roger Ailes has issued an apology of sorts. He sent a letter to Abe Foxman of the ADL saying that he regretted his use of the term “Nazi attitudes.” However the rest of the letter was a surreal justification for his language.

First he blamed it on his anger at NPR for having fired Juan Williams. Then he shifted gears and blamed it on a couple of rabbis with whom he had met to discuss Glenn Beck’s frequent comparisons of Nazis to Democrats, progressives and other Beck targets. He also defended Beck’s Smear-laden programs on George Soros by saying that his “Brainroom” had found the programs valid. For an apology he sure had a lot of other people to fault for his wrongdoing.

But the real flaw in the so-called apology is that Ailes sent it to the ADL. But it wasn’t the ADL whom he had called Nazis. It was the folks at NPR. I don’t think you can call it an apology if you don’t address it to the people you actually offended. It was more of a cowardly PR gesture.

Juan Williams Postscript: Fox News Keeps Fear Alive

A number of interesting developments have transpired since Juan Williams blurted out his repugnant feelings on the O’Reilly Factor.

First, Williams was rewarded for his bigotry by Fox News who signed him to a new $2 million contract. That is, in effect, an affirmation of intolerance and a continuation of Fox’s familiar brand of bigotry. Keep hate alive, Fox.

Second, the conversation has completely switched to NPR’s decision to fire Williams, from the more relevant discussion of his prejudice and anxiety at the sight of peaceful Muslims in an airport. The conduct of NPR’s Human Resources department is far less important than the open hostility expressed by Williams. Of course, Fox would rather talk about a fake controversy than actual hate speech.

And third, Mara Liasson continues to appear on Fox News, even as they bash her primary employer (NPR) and seek to destroy it by advocating its defunding. How can Liasson appear on Fox News while they are actively trying to harm NPR? It’s kind of like Pau Gasol switching jerseys and playing for the Celtics when the Lakers have him on the bench. How can NPR permit Liasson to appear on a network that has initiated a campaign to smear them and to take them off the air?

Conversely, do you think that Fox would continue to employ Liasson if she went on NPR and told people that Fox is not a news network (which would be the truth) and that they should not watch Fox or patronize its advertisers? Roger Ailes would fire her before she finished the sentence. If Liasson had any loyalty or integrity she would voluntarily cease to work for Fox until they repudiated the smear campaign against NPR. Either that or quit NPR and stop pretending that she is a neutral, unbiased reporter.

From Media Matters: FOX Keeps Fear Alive. Restore Sanity, Drop FOX.

Each day, Fox News “keeps fear alive” with a steady stream of false and misleading attacks on President Obama, progressive members of Congress, and policy initiatives such as reforming health care, fixing the economy, and fighting global warming. Fox News is not a news organization, it is a right-wing political operation.

And that is why you should join the fight to “restore sanity.” Click the link above to sign the petition to hold Fox News accountable.

NPR Asks Mara Liasson To Reconsider Fox News

Now that it has been established that Fox News is not a legitimate news network, the question arises as to whether reporters from other news enterprises who appear on Fox are merely pawns in Fox’s game of alleged balance. I have long argued that such appearances serve no purpose other than to validate Fox’s brand of propaganda. Lately, there have been others who share that view, as illustrated in this article at Politico:

According to a source, [NPR’s Mara] Liasson was summoned in early October by NPR’s executive editor for news, Dick Meyer, and the networks supervising senior Washington editor, Ron Elving. The NPR executives said they had concerns that Fox’s programming had grown more partisan, and they asked Liasson to spend 30 days watching the network.

At a follow-up meeting last month, Liasson reported that she’d seen no significant change in Fox’s programming and planned to continue appearing on the network, the source said.

Liasson’s assertion that she doesn’t see any significant change in Fox’s programming is a bit of a dodge. It could easily be argued that Fox’s programming has not changed – it has always been partisan, dishonest, and factually challenged. In which case, she should never have agreed to appear on the network in the first place. However, Fox’s rightist slant has become noticeably steeper. So much so that it has even been noticed by people associated with Fox.

Just in the past couple of months, longtime Fox News contributor Jane Hall left the network citing the extremism of Glenn Beck as part of her reason. Also, former Fox anchor Eric Burns emerged to declare that he is grateful that he no longer has to “face the ethical problem of sharing an employer with Glenn Beck.”

While Fox News has indeed been solidly right-wing since its inception, recent changes have cemented their already hard-core partisanship. They hired Mike Huckabee and Glenn Beck. They parted ways with Alan Colmes. In fact every recent announcement from their editorial management took them farther to the right.

If Liasson can’t see this and admit that her ties with Fox are damaging her reputation and that of NPR, then perhaps her NPR handlers should take it upon themselves to cut ties with her. They previously had a similar situation with Juan Williams, an NPR contributor who also appears on Fox and sometimes fills in for Bill O’Reilly. Williams was ordered to stop identifying himself as an NPR reporter when he appeared on Fox’s opinion programs (which is most of them). NPR could go no further than that as Williams is not a full time employee.

As for Liasson, her blindness ought to yield some sort of consequences. NPR is not commenting, but Fox took the opportunity to demonstrate what a bunch of sanctimonious jerks they are by releasing this statement:

“With the ratings we have, NPR should be paying us to even be mentioned on our air.”

Any journalist who works with Fox News must be held accountable for that decision. It should follow them throughout their career and tag them as the disreputable hacks that they are. They should be regarded professionally as being in the same category as reporters from the National Enquirer. If Liasson wants the attention she gets from the Fox family, she will have to live with the scorn she receives from everyone else.