Fox News president Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., the parent company of Fox News, have both been confronted by journalists about Glenn Beck's inflammatory and often racially charged attacks on progressives and President Obama. Ailes and Murdoch have defended, rewritten, or falsely denied the existence of Beck's claims in an attempt to downplay his reckless rhetoric.
Ailes revises Beck's claim that progressives "are taking you to a place to be slaughtered" to assert that Beck "was probably accurate"
Beck asserted that progressives "are taking you to a place to be slaughtered." After naming SEIU president Andy Stern, George Soros, "anyone else around this White House," and "progressives," Beck stated on the November 3, 2009, edition of his Fox News program, "You are going to see this economy come up -- we're already seeing it - - and now it's going to start coming back down again. And when you see the effects of what they're doing to the economy, remember these words: we will survive. We know we'll do better than survive. We will thrive -- as long as these people are not in control. They are taking you to a place to be slaughtered."
Ailes falsely claimed Beck "was talking about Hitler and Stalin slaughtering people. So I think he was probably accurate." From the January 31 edition of ABC's This Week:
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (Huffington Post co-founder and editor-in-chief): Well, Roger, it's not a question of picking a fight. And aren't you concerned about the language that Glenn Beck is using, which is, after all, inciting the American people? There is a lot of suffering out there, as you know, and when he talks about people being slaughtered, about who is going to be the next in the killing spree ...
AILES: Well, he was talking about Hitler and Stalin slaughtering people. So I think he was probably accurate. Also, I'm a little....
HUFFINGTON: No, no, he was talking about this administration.
February 1: Beck misrepresented his "slaughtered" comment. On the February 1 edition of his radio show, Beck claimed that his comments were either in the "context of Mao, Stalin, or Hitler," or "the idea that the truth is being slaughtered by this administration":
BECK: I don't even know if I've ever used the word "slaughtered." And if I used the word "slaughtered," if it wasn't in a context of Mao, Stalin, or Hitler, it was in the idea that the truth is being slaughtered by this administration, not saying that this administration is going to slaughter anyone. [...] I have said that progressives, this ideology has lead to the slaughtering of millions. It has, it has. In particular: eugenics.
February 2: Beck claims he "was talking about Andy Stern." Responding to Huffington's criticism of his remarks, Beck claimed during his February 2 radio program that in his original comments, he "was talking about Andy Stern."
Murdoch on Beck's claim that Obama is "racist": "[H]e was right"
Beck: Obama a "racist" who has "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." On the July 28, 2009, broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Beck discussed remarks Obama had made about the controversial arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates and declared that in his response to the arrest, Obama "exposed himself as a guy" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." Beck added that Obama is a "racist." Fox News senior vice president of programming Bill Shine stated later that day that Beck "expressed a personal opinion which represented his own views, not those of the Fox News Channel. And as with all commentators in the cable news arena, he is given the freedom to express his opinions."
Murdoch on Beck's claim that Obama is "racist": "[H]e was right." In a November 6, 2009, interview with Sky News Australia political editor David Speers, Murdoch declared that while Beck "perhaps shouldn't have" said it, Beck was "right." From the interview:
SPEERS: Glenn Beck, who you mentioned, has called Barack Obama a racist, and he helped organize a protest against him. Others on Fox have likened him --
SPEERS: -- to Stalin. Is that defensible?
MURDOCH: No, no, no, not Stalin, I don't think. I don't know who that -- not one of our people. On the racist thing, that caused a [unintelligible]. But he did make a very racist comment, about, you know, blacks and whites and so on, and which he said in his campaign he would be completely above. And, you know, that was something which perhaps shouldn't have been said about the president, but if you actually assess what he was talking about, he was right.
News Corp. spokesman Gary Ginsberg subsequently stated that Murdoch "does not at all, for a minute, think the president is a racist." Politico's Michael Calderone reported that Ginsberg said it's "not the case" that Murdoch shares Beck's view, "but did not comment further."
After questioned by Media Matters, Murdoch appeared to deny claiming that Obama made a "racist" comment. On November 19, 2009, Media Matters for America staff member Ben Fishel asked Murdoch if he "could be more clear about what racist comments the president allegedly made." Murdoch said: "I denied that absolutely. ... I don't believe he's a racist." Murdoch did not respond when further pressed to explain his remarks.
Ailes: Beck "did say one unfortunate thing, which he apologized for"
Ailes: Beck said "one unfortunate thing," and "he apologized for" it. From the January 31 edition of ABC's This Week:
AILES: I don't -- I think he speaks English. I don't know, but I mean, I don't misinterpret any of his words. He did say one unfortunate thing, which he apologized for, but that happens in live television. So I don't think it's -- I think if we start going around as the word police in this business, it will be ...
HUFFINGTON: It's not about the word police. It's about something deeper. It's about the fact that there is a tradition as the historian Richard Hofstetter said, in American politics, of the paranoid style. And the paranoid style is dangerous when there is real pain out there.
Beck apologized only for how "racist" accusation "was phrased," asserted that "it is a serious question that I think needs serious discussion." Ailes did not specify to which of Beck's assertions he was referring when he said on This Week that Beck "did say one unfortunate thing, which he apologized for, but that happens in live television." Assuming that Ailes is referring to Beck's claim that Obama is "a racist," the claim that Beck "apologized" for the remark is false. In fact, Beck asserted that "it is a serious question" and apologized only for "the way it was phrased," noting that "living in a soundbite world is really a nasty place to live." From the September 22, 2009, edition of @KatieCouric:
COURIC: You stand behind your assertion that in your view, President Obama is a racist?
BECK: I believe that Americans should ask themselves tough questions.
BECK [video clip]: This guy is, I believe, a racist.
COURIC: Are you sorry you said that at all?
BECK: I'm sorry the way it was phrased, because I think everybody has to -- living in a soundbite world -- really a nasty place to live. And it is a serious question that I think needs serious discussion.
Murdoch falsely claims none of his "people" have "likened" Obama to Stalin
Murdoch: "[N]ot one of our people" at Fox has "likened [Obama] to Stalin." During Murdoch's November 2009 interview with Australia's Sky News, which -- like Fox News -- Murdoch owns, David Speers stated, "Glenn Beck, who you mentioned, has called Barack Obama a racist, and he helped organize a protest against him. Others on Fox have likened him to Stalin. Is that defensible?" Murdoch responded, "No, no, not Stalin, I don't think. I don't know who that -- not one of our people."
In fact, Beck and other Fox News personalities have repeatedly compared Obama and his administration to Stalin. Beck and others employed by Fox News have indeed compared Obama's administration to Stalin. For instance, on the April 2, 2009, edition of his Fox News program, Beck aired video of Obama interspersed with historical footage that included images of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Vladimir Lenin and asked, "Is this where we're headed?" As recently as January 28, Beck likened Obama's purported "enemies list" to those made by Stalin. Beck also frequently invokes Hitler and Nazi Germany while discussing the Obama administration.