Paging Roger Ailes... Boss Rupert Murdoch's newest pet project -- the tablet-only Daily -- seems to have made digs at Fox News contributor Sarah Palin part of its much-speculated-about editorial voice.
A Saturday rundown of potential Republican presidential nominees said of Palin:
The former vice presidential candidate's strengths -- her cult-like appeal to anti-elitist tea-partiers, her fundraising prowess -- are still vastly outweighed by her countless liabilities. For instance, try to pin her down on an issue of any gravity or complexity (the war in Iraq, say, or health care policy) and, political coaching be damned, you'll still get a meandering rant that sounds like it was cobbled together with some kind of Reagan-themed magnetic poetry set.
Days earlier, Daily op-ed columnist Michael Maiello wrote that Palin "really just doesn't have a grasp of recent history," citing her response to President Obama's Sputnik reference in the State of the Union address:
Former half-term Alaska governor and failed vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is deeply concerned that President Obama has learned the wrong lesson from Russia's successful 1957 launch of Sputnik. It wasn't an advance that in turn motivated the United States, she suggested, but a failure: "Yeah, they won, but they also incurred so much debt at the time that it resulted in the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union." I could suppose she means that Russia flew too high, Icarus-like, and was brought low as its wings were melted by the heat of its outsized ambitions. But I'd be wrong. She really just doesn't have a grasp of recent history.
We're still deciphering what Murdoch meant when he said The Daily's editorial stance would be "very patriotic," though for the moment, it doesn't seem to include knee-jerk support for Palin.
On January 26, The Washington Post ran an article on an open letter from Jewish Funds for Justice, signed by 400 rabbis, calling on News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch to ask "Fox News chief Roger Ailes and conservative host Glenn Beck to cut out all their talk about Nazis and the Holocaust." From the article:
A coalition of rabbis wants Fox News chief Roger Ailes and conservative host Glenn Beck to cut out all their talk about Nazis and the Holocaust, and it's making its views known in an unusual place.
The rabbis have called on Fox News's owner, Rupert Murdoch, to sanction his two famous employees via a full-page ad in Thursday's editions of the Wall Street Journal - one of many other media properties controlled by Murdoch's News Corp.
The ad is signed by the heads of the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements as well as Orthodox rabbis.
"We share a belief that the Holocaust, of course, can and should be discussed appropriately in the media. But that is not what we have seen at Fox News," says the ad, signed by hundreds of rabbis and placed by the Jewish Funds for Justice, a nonprofit advocacy group. Earlier this month, the group organized a letter-writing campaign asking Murdoch to remove Beck from the air.
The rabbis were prompted by Beck's three-part program in November about liberal billionaire philanthropist George Soros, whom Beck described as a "Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps" during World War II.
Soros was a young teenager in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the war and hid with a Christian family to escape the Holocaust. He once described accompanying his surrogate father while he confiscated property from Jews deported by the Nazis.
The Jewish Funds group has received financial support from Soros's Open Society Foundations.
Ailes, in a November interview with the Daily Beast Web site, called NPR executives "Nazis" for their decision to fire Juan Williams, also a Fox commentator. He later apologized to the Anti-Defamation League, but not to NPR, saying, "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."
But Ailes, in the same interview, defended Beck's frequent use of Nazi references to describe his political opponents by attributing outrage over such remarks to "left-wing rabbis who basically don't think that anybody can ever use the word 'Holocaust' on the air." [The Washington Post, 1/26/11]
From Ailes' extended interview with Esquire's Tom Junod, describing the difference between MSNBC and Fox News [emphasis added]:
You have to be able to allow both points of view. Look at MSNBC. They have nobody on that doesn't agree with them. Nobody. I never see anybody who disagrees with them. I don't know whether their egos can't handle it or whether their... I don't get it. They absolutely despise anybody with a different opinion.
Because everyone knows Fox News' lineup is filled with balanced debate, right?
Good one, Roger.
An Esquire blog post sheds light on Fox News President Roger Ailes' response to outrage over Glenn Beck's incessant use of Nazi and Holocaust imagery to smear progressives and Beck's false smear that philanthropist George Soros helped "send the Jews" to "death camps" as a child:
The Roger Ailes Experience is simply the access -- or even the intimacy -- afforded by Roger Ailes when you engage him in argument, and the best example I heard in the interviews I conducted in order to write about him was provided by Simon Greer, who heads an advocacy group called Jews for Justice.
Greer was offended by Glenn Beck's incessant use of Holocaust references and co-signed a letter of complaint to Roger Ailes. "Within a week," Greer says, "we heard from Ailes, saying he'd be willing to meet at our convenience." So began Greer's Roger Ailes Experience: Not only did he wind up meeting Ailes along with a group of rabbis, he also wound up liking Ailes, indeed having a moment with him, in which humanity was revealed and sympathy presumed.
"I said, 'I have a young son. Imagine what it's like to watch this with him. Imagine what it's like to watch 400 Holocaust references from Glenn Beck. What should I say to him?' Roger looked visibly shaken by it. He said, 'This is a problem, this concerns us.' In the end, we agreed that the use of the word 'Nazi' for anything you happen to dislike is offensive. And he said, 'We'll talk to Glenn, and invite you back for a meeting with our producers.' He also said, 'The door is always open and you can always call us back.'"
Ten days later, Greer received a handwritten note of apology from Glenn Beck. He subsequently gave an interview to Yahoo's Upshot blog about the note and about the meeting that prompted it, after which he got an e-mail from Ailes, in which Ailes expressed his regret that Greer hadn't kept the meeting private. "But he said that I had characterized the meeting accurately, and basically said, 'We're good, Simon.'" And for a time Greer noticed a decrease in Beck's appropriation of Jewish suffering for his own purposes.
Then, in short order last fall, Beck devoted three programs to attacking Jewish financier George Soros, in part by implicating him as an agent of the Holocaust. Did Ailes take the resulting uproar seriously? "I think Rupert got a few letters," he told Esquire. "He sent them down to me. I answer them -- I just say, Well have you ever heard of freedom of speech? It's in the Constitution, we do it, and I'm sorry you didn't like, but if Mr. Soros would like to come on our channel and present an alternative view, we would be happy to have him."
Within days, Ailes himself referred to the executives who fired Juan Williams from NPR as Nazis, and in the face-saving apology he wrote to his friend Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation-League, he blamed Greer and the rabbis associated with Jews for Justice for starting the controversy with their "unscrupulous behavior" in publicizing the meeting they had with Ailes. Did Greer have anything to do with Ailes's invocation of Nazism in his description of NPR? No, but by this time Ailes was recasting the entire episode as yet another attempt to destroy him -- in fact, as an outright plot against him, which he survived by guile.
Earlier today Media Matters reported that in an interview with GlobalGrind.com Fox News President Roger Ailes had said that the "Democrat [sic] Party" had put out a map with targets on it as had Palin. He later added: "Both sides are wrong, but they both do it. I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually. You don't have to do it with bombast. I hope the other side does that."
Howard Kurtz reacted on Twitter:
In a recent interview on GlobalGrind.com, Fox News President Roger Ailes said that the "Democrat [sic] Party" had put out a map with targets on it as had Palin. He later added: "Both sides are wrong, but they both do it. I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually. You don't have to do it with bombast. I hope the other side does that." From the interview:
Russell Simmons: One thing I am sick of...I really want to see the people govern this country. And I want to see the people on the Right's voice be respected, and the people on the Left's voice be respected-
Roger Ailes: That's what should happen. You know, they're using this thing...apparently there was a map from one of Palin's things that had her (Congresswoman Giffords) targeted district. So, we looked at the internet and the first thing we found in 2007, the Democrat Party had a targeted map with targets on it for the Palin district. These maps have been used for for years that I know of. I have two pictures of myself with a bull's-eye on my head. This is just bullshit. This goes on... both sides are wrong, but they both do it.
I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually. You don't have to do it with bombast. I hope the other side does that.
Listen, I have a picture of Sarah Palin hanging from the end of a rope. They made a doll up like her and hung her. [GlobalGrind.com,1/10/11]
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.