As Media Matters has been detailing for the last week, the silence emanating from Fox News has been deafening regarding the fact that on-air personality Andrew Napolitano has recently expressed support for the 9/11 truther conspiracy, suggesting the United States government is hiding facts about the terrorist attack.
Not only have Fox News flaks refused to comment to Media Matters about Napolitano's controversial 9/11 conspiracy views, but they also refused comment to CNN, which reported on the development. Perhaps even more bizarre has been the fact that since Napolitano endorsed the dark conspiratorial view of the 9/11 attacks, he's subsequently been popping up on scores of different Fox News programs where nobody (nobody) dares to ask him the obvious question: So what's the deal with the truther stuff?
It's so bizarre because I probably don't have to mention what the collective reaction would be from the Fox News team if an on-air personality at MSNBC or CNN, for example, had so publicly endorsed the notion that the government lied to us about what really happened on Sept. 11 at Ground Zero. What would the reaction be? If you took today's "deafening silence" that hovers over Fox News and the Napolitano 9/11 situation and replaced that with "cataclysmic howls," you wouldn't be far off form the truth.
So the nagging question has been, why the wall of silence?
A November 19 National Public Radio article titled "Fox News 'Nazi' Rhetoric Starts At The Top," reported on Fox News President Roger Ailes' recent comment that NPR executives "are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism." The article pointed out that "Ailes offered an apology of sorts, but his remarks were hardly out of character for [Fox News]," noting that "On his TV and radio shows, Glenn Beck has attacked the Obama administration and its liberal allies as Nazis several times." From NPR:
Fox News and NPR once again found themselves in the news Thursday, this time driven by the comments of Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who in published remarks referred to NPR executives as "Nazis" for terminating the contract of news analyst Juan Williams.
Ailes offered an apology of sorts, but his remarks were hardly out of character for the network.
On his TV and radio shows, Glenn Beck has attacked the Obama administration and its liberal allies as Nazis several times.
Beck and Ailes are by no means the first to call others Nazis. But Fox News does stand out amid mainstream media outlets for its ferocity and frequency in doing so. [Washington Post columnist Dana] Milbank found Beck had referred to Hitler or Nazis on his Fox News program several hundred times.
In remarks published in the Daily Beast on Thursday, Ailes said this of NPR executives: "They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism."
Former Fox News Chief White House correspondent Major Garrett, who is now at the National Journal, has only positive things to say about Ailes. But when he first heard about Ailes' comments about NPR, he said: "I don't even know -- I don't even know where that comes from. It's um. Wow."
Ailes apologized, not to NPR, but in a letter to a Jewish advocacy group, saying he should have said "nasty inflexible bigot" -- not Nazi.
NPR officials say he's missing the point -- and that his rhetoric off the air, too, is an insult to NPR's journalists and listeners.
From the November 21 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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This is getting to be ridiculous.
Why NPR continues to allow one of its most high-profile political correspondents to maintain an on-going, on-air professional bond with Fox News simply makes no sense. It hasn't made much sense for years, since that kind of relationship with Fox News clearly seems to runs counter to the guidelines established for the NPR newsroom. But it makes absolutely zero sense in the wake of Fox News chief Roger Ailes' unhinged and bitter remarks, painting NPR executives as "Nazis" and NPR journalists as government-funded hacks.
That's who NPR wants to continue a relationship with by having Mara Liasson constantly appear on Fox News program? It just makes no sense to me and if somebody at NPR could explain what logic would allow Liasson to keep using her NPR alliance while appearing on Fox News, I'd sure like to hear it.
And keep in mind this nugget from NPR's laudable ethics code and what it has to say about staffers making outside media appearances [emphasis added]:
Permission for such appearances may be revoked if NPR determines such appearances are harmful to the reputation of NPR or the NPR participant.
Again, Ailes just lashed out at NPR and called it a haven for Nazis. Ailes apologized for his Third Reich rhetoric, although not to NPR, and then inserted a new round of insults ("nasty, inflexible bigot") replace the "Nazi" slur.
So in light of Ailes' mad rants and the complete public train wreck they represent, this simple question remains: How is maintaining a public alliance with Fox News not "harmful to the reputation of NPR"?
In a November 18 blog post, Los Angeles Times media writer James Rainey reported that Fox News head Roger Ailes referred to NPR executives as "Nazis," and noted that "[t]he left-leaning media watchdog group, Media Matters, was first to note how Ailes seemed to be echoing Beck, or vice versa."
From the LA Times:
Anyone who has watched Fox News personality Glenn Beck with any regularity has heard warnings of an end of life in America as we know it, specifically a Nazi-style takeover of the government. That could be the eventual end-game, according to Beck, if the big-government policies of the Obama administration go unchecked.
But in an interview this week, it was Beck's Fox News boss, Roger Ailes, embracing the Nazi rhetoric. And this time the target was National Public Radio. Speaking to the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz, Ailes said NPR's bosses revealed their fascist stripes when they dismissed commentator Juan Williams.
The left-leaning media watchdog group, Media Matters, was first to note how Ailes seemed to be echoing Beck, or vice versa. Media Matters charged: "Fox's 'Nazi' rhetoric also comes straight from the top."
The group's online critique went on to cite the many times Beck has invoked the Nazis in taking on his liberal foes. In one instance last year, the report noted, Beck compared Obama's call for the expansion of the foreign service via a "civilian national security force" to Hitler's SS and brownshirts.
In a November 19 article, NPR reports that while Fox News chief Roger Ailes has apologized to the head of the American Defamation League for calling NPR executives "Nazis," he "has not apologized to NPR executives for calling them Nazis." Ailes has since said that he should have called NPR executives "nasty inflexible bigot[s]," rather than "Nazis." From NPR:
But in the piece published Thursday, Ailes spoke of NPR executives: "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."
In a letter Thursday to a top official of the Anti-Defamation League, Ailes apologized. He said he should have instead said "nasty inflexible bigot."
But Ailes also wrote he was upset at two rabbis who complained about Fox host Glenn Beck for repeatedly comparing his own rhetorical targets to Nazis.
Both NPR and Fox News say Ailes has not apologized to NPR executives for calling them Nazis.
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Yahoo News' Michael Calderone has posted a letter Fox News' Roger Ailes sent to Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League regarding Ailes' smear of NPR executives as "Nazis." In it, Ailes claims that "this all goes back to" the "unscrupulous" treatment he claims he received from Rabbi Steve Gutow and Simon Greer following their meeting with Ailes regarding Glenn Beck's constant invocations of Nazis and the Holocaust [emphasis added]:
This morning you might be receiving calls because I used the word "Nazi attitudes" to describe the NPR officials who fired Juan Williams. I was of course ad-libbing and should not have chosen that word, but I was angry at the time because of NPR's willingness to censor Juan Williams for not being liberal enough. I think this all goes back to the visit we received from Rabbi Steve Gutow and Simon Greer. We had a cordial conversation where they explained the sensitivity of the Jewish people and I said Glenn Beck was very sensitive to Jewish issues and would never intentionally offend them. I agreed to talk with Glenn and was certain once he understood the sensitivity on the use of the word Holocaust would handle it differently on the air. I did speak with Glenn and he responded favorably. I then offered to hold a meeting where they could talk to our editorial staff and enlighten them about that sensitivity.
You know me as a friend and many IDF warriors know me as someone who is consistently strong in the defense of the Jewish people and the state of Israel. However, the rabbis used us in an unscrupulous manner. Instead of quietly working with us to solve the problem internally, they put out a cheap press release to say Glenn Beck was out of line, Fox was out of line and they of course came in and told us what we could do. None of that happened. I was and still am insulted by their behavior. No one knows better than you how easy it is to call someone anti-Semitic and I believe you have been heroic in sorting out those instances. There are others, however, who use racism and anti-Semitism for their own political purposes.
Ailes also explained to Foxman that he doesn't "feel much guilt" over Glenn Beck's many-days long smear of George Soros, because Beck's research was deemed valid by the Fox News "Brainroom":
I wanted to follow up on the Glenn Beck situation with regards to George Soros. I frankly don't feel much guilt because Glenn Beck only used Soros' words and our Brainroom dissected each statement and found them valid.
In reality, Beck falsely accused Soros of being a Holocaust collaborator, distorted several Soros quotes, and made repeated false claims about Soros in order to attack him as an all-powerful and dangerous "puppet master."
Finally, Ailes apologized for using "Nazi," writing that he should have described NPR brass as "nasty, inflexible bigot[s]":
I'm writing this just to let you know some background but also to apologize for using "Nazi" when in my now considered opinion "nasty, inflexible bigot" would have worked better. Juan Williams is a good man and like you a friend. And my friends never have to worry about me sticking up for them -- even if I'm occasionally politically incorrect I never leave any doubts about my loyalty.
During an interview with Howard Kurtz, Fox News exec Roger Ailes lashed out at NPR executives over their firing of Juan Williams, saying they are "Nazis" that have a "Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism."
Politico reports that Ailes has apologized to the Anti Defamation League for his comments, saying he was "ad-libbing and should not have chosen that word":
"I was of course ad-libbing and should not have chosen that word," Ailes wrote in a letter to Abe Foxman, ADL's national director. "but I was angry at the time because of NPR's willingness to censor Juan Williams for not being liberal enough."
Foxman, a Holocaust survivor, replied: "I welcome Roger Ailes apology, which is as sincere as it is heartfelt. Nazi comparisons of this nature are clearly inappropriate and offensive. While I wish Roger had never invoked that terminology, I appreciate his efforts to immediately reach out and to retract his words before they did any further harm."
According to NPR's David Folkenlik, an NPR spokeswoman says that Ailes has not apologized to NPR directly for his comments.
And of course, Ailes' comments are entirely in character Fox News. If he agrees that Nazi comparisons are inappropriate, he should have a word with his employees that regularly use Nazi and Holocaust imagery to smear Democrats and progressives.
Michael Calderone has the text of the full letter Ailes sent to the ADL, as well as Foxman's response. Ailes says he should have called NPR execs "nasty, inflexible bigot[s]" instead, and defends Beck's Soros attacks:
I'm writing this just to let you know some background but also to apologize for using "Nazi" when in my now considered opinion "nasty, inflexible bigot" would have worked better. Juan Williams is a good man and like you a friend. And my friends never have to worry about me sticking up for them--even if I'm occasionally politically incorrect I never leave any doubts about my loyalty.
Roger Ailes: Fox News contributor Juan Williams is "a pure liberal."
The onetime Republican strategist is a man of strong opinions, in case that wasn't clear, and he also puts his money where his mouth is. When Juan Williams was fired by National Public Radio for remarks he made on Fox about fearing airplane passengers in Muslim garb, Ailes rushed to award him a three-year, $2 million contract.
"A guy who gets fired and humiliated in the press can lose a lot of confidence," Ailes says. Calling Williams "a pure liberal," Ailes says he wanted to compensate the pundit for his losses because he was "mad" and "I didn't want him to have to call his wife and say we lost money." [The Daily Beast, 11/17/10]
Fox News contributor Juan Williams: "Fox is one of the few places where people identify me as the liberal, because I'm not that liberal."
In a recent interview, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes referred to National Public Radio executives as "Nazis" with a "Nazi attitude," and claimed "[t]hey are the left wing of Nazism." Ailes' employees at Fox News, particularly Glenn Beck, have also used Nazi and Holocaust imagery to smear President Obama, Democrats, and progressive figures.
Remember, NPR's Mara Liasson thinks Fox News is a legitimate news outlet and doesn't see anything wrong with getting paid to appear on its programs.
Keep that in mind as you read this crazy outburst from Fox News chief, Roger Ailes:
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.
The question for Liasson, an NPR national political correspondent, is a simple one. Yes, she continues to contribute on-air to Fox News despite the fact her appearances seem to run afoul of NPR's ethical standards. But on a more personal level, does Liasson want to continue to be associated with Fox News when its chief is lobbing hateful and demeaning attacks against Liasson's longtime employer?
As I noted last month:
[W]hen the Juan Williams controversy broke, Fox News unleashed a nasty attack campaign against Liasson's employer, spreading all kinds of smears and misinformation about NPR and its staff in an effort to defund and destroy a jewel of public broadcasting. (Fox News' Brit Hume basically called NPR racist for firing Williams.)
Given Fox News' current crusade, I don't see why Liasson, who's been cashing NPR paycheck for two decades, would want to continue to work with a media outlet that now seems bent on discrediting and destroying her employer; and destroying it with a vicious smear campaign. From a professional or personal point of view, why would Liasson want to have anything to do with Fox News and its band of NPR haters who now relentlessly ambush NPR's chief on the street?
With his unhinged interview this week, Ailes has now raised the bar on NPR hating. Will Liasson finally step forward and defend her colleagues from these insane attacks? And if not, should we conclude that Liasson agrees with Ailes' description of NPR as being home to Nazis and government hacks?
In other words, is there anything Fox News can do to demean and destroy NPR that Liasson will publicly object to?
There was never much hope that Fox News -- which has time and again refused to adhere to any standard of propriety -- would make any serious moves to rein in the constant stream of Nazi invocations coming from Glenn Beck. But, as Jewish Funds for Justice CEO Simon Greer wrote in a November 11 op-ed, there was a brief, shining moment back in July when it actually seemed as though Roger Ailes and the rest of the Fox News brass might finally have been forced to take action:
As many of you know, I was the subject of a personal attack by Glenn Beck in May of this year. Responding to an article I wrote supporting a government role to advance the common good, Beck scolded me, declaring that my words "are what led to the death camps in Germany" and that I "as a Jew, should know better." To discuss this and other, similar comments, on July 26, I joined rabbis Steve Gutow and David Ellenson, on behalf of fourteen prominent leaders of national Jewish organizations, in a meeting with Fox News President Roger Ailes and the producer of Glenn Beck's television show, Joel Cheatwood. We spoke for almost an hour about the concerns held by many Jews about Glenn Beck's constant and often inappropriate invocation of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany on the air.
We were assured by Ailes and Cheatwood that they understand our concerns and would explain them to Beck. Two days later, I received a hand-written note from Beck, which stated: "Simon, Joel shared the details of your meeting yesterday. Please know that I understand the sensitivity and sacred nature of this dark chapter in Human History. Thank you for your candor and helpful thoughts."
Of course, we know that Beck broke his promise to respect the sensitivity of the Holocaust and continued on with the Nazi rhetoric unabated. But what of Ailes? He also, as Greer put it, said he was sensitive to the "concerns held by many Jews about Glenn Beck's constant and often inappropriate invocation of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany."
Well, it turns out that was a lie, too:
"A guy who gets fired and humiliated in the press can lose a lot of confidence," Ailes says. Calling [former NPR analyst Juan] Williams "a pure liberal," Ailes says he wanted to compensate the pundit for his losses because he was "mad" and "I didn't want him to have to call his wife and say we lost money."
Then he turned his sights on NPR executives.
"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."
In the second part of his interview with Howard Kurtz, Fox News chief Roger Ailes set his sights on Jon Stewart, attacking him by claiming, "[h]e openly admits he's sort of an atheist and a socialist." Ailes went on to call Stewart "crazy" and claimed he "hates conservatives."* Ailes believes it is "horseshit" that Stewart's criticism of cable news hinges not on "the ideology of cable channels but the tone of the discourse," because Stewart supposedly "loves polarization." He reportedly added, "If Stewart wants to go after cable hosts for the entertainment value, fine, 'but don't give me a social speech on the steps of the Washington Monument. Don't lapse into non-comedy.'"
Is he serious? Jon Stewart hosted his rally after Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" self-aggrandizing religious event, but it's Stewart's rally that's the problem?
Does he even realize what Stewart's rally was about? It was filled with Stewart "go[ing] after cable hosts" and the discourse on cable news. As the Washington Post reported, Stewart "argued that the rally's target was the caustic level of discourse in Washington, and its nasty echoes on cable television's 24-hour news cycle. Stewart said that noisy debate obscured a reality that he perceived: that everyone throughout the country had found a way to work together." If Stewart "loves polarization," he has a funny way of showing it.
In an interview, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes referred to President Obama's policies as "socialism." Ailes' opinion is shared by his Fox News employees, who regularly characterize President Obama and his administration as "socialist."