Fox News says it has nothing to apologize for after 400 rabbis issued an open letter asking the network to tone down host Glenn Beck’s use of Nazi and Holocaust imagery.
“We haven’t seen the ad, but this group is a George Soros backed left-wing political organization that has been trying to engage Glenn Beck primarily for publicity purposes,” Fox News development VP Joel Cheatwood told Yahoo!News in a statement.
But one of the letter’s signatories, Rabbi Will Berkovitz, told MSNBC’s Cenk Uygur that the letter was signed by rabbis from all over the political spectrum, ranging from far left to orthodox conservatives.
The rabbis, who signed a letter organized by Jewish Funds for Justice, on Thursday took out an ad in the Wall Street Journal — which, like Fox News, is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. — calling on the network to sanction Glenn Beck for what they see as his excessive use of Holocaust and Nazi references.
They also criticized Fox News President Roger Ailes for dismissing Beck’s Jewish critics as “left-wing rabbis.”
The rabbis took particular issue with a series Beck ran on his radio and TV shows in November covering the life of George Soros, a progressive financier that Beck believes to be at the center of a conspiracy to destroy the US.
“It is not appropriate to accuse a 14-year old Jew hiding with a Christian family in Nazi-occupied Hungary of sending his people to death camps,” the rabbis said of the Soros series. “It is not appropriate to call executives of another news agency ‘Nazis.’ And it is not appropriate to make literally hundreds of on-air references to the Holocaust and Nazis when characterizing people with whom you disagree.”
Fox’s response to the letter seemed surprising especially in light of the fact that, as Yahoo!News’ Joe Pompeo reported, the head of Jewish Funds for Justice met with Ailes and Cheatwood last summer, following an earlier controversy over Beck’s use of Nazi metaphors. At that time, JFSJ chief executive Simon Greer reported that Ailes and Cheatwood had agreed that Beck had gone too far.
For his part, Glenn Beck made light of the controversy on his radio show Thursday, mocking an allegation that he had purposely misspelled a name to make it sound “more Jewish.”
In what appeared to be an attempt to burnish his “pro-Jewish” credentials, Beck drew listeners’ attention to a documentary he produced, Rumors of War, which Beck’s website said “will explore the dangers that a nuclear Iran presents to the free world” and which is set for release this week.
“For an anti-Semite, you really are pro-Jew,” co-host Stu Burguiere quipped.
The following audio was broadcast on The Glenn Beck Program, Jan. 27, 2011, and was uploaded to the web by Mediaite.