It appears that even the president of Fox News knows when rhetorical attacks have gone too far.
In a wide-ranging interview with Russell Simmons, Fox News's Roger Ailes remarked that he'd told his employees to "shut up, tone it down" and "make your argument intellectually."
You don't have to do it with bombast," he reportedly said.
In spite of the call for moderation, Ailes also defended Fox News employee Sarah Palin and her use of gun terminology in political discourse.
Prior to the 2010 midterms, a post on Sarah Palin's Facebook page placed crosshairs over Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' (D-AZ) congressional district. Palin said supporters should "reload" and use their votes to "aim for" the Democrat's defeat.
Giffords was shot in the head by a gunman Saturday, and remains in critical condition.
When Palin's name was mentioned at a vigil for Giffords later that day, Fox News quickly cut away.
"They're using this thing... apparently there was a map from one of Palin's things that had [Giffords] targeted district," Ailes complained. "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 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," he added.
There is no indication that the man that allegedly shot killed six and wounded 14 others in Arizona Saturday, 22-year-old Jared Loughner, was a fan of Fox News' Glenn Beck but the two definitely had something in common: both had an obsession with returning to gold as a form of currency.
"No! I won't pay debt with a currency that's not backed by gold and silver! No! I won't trust in God!" Loughner declared in a rambling video posted to YouTube.
"If you read some of the stuff that we have, that we know he wrote," comedian Bill Maher told CNN's Anderson Cooper Monday. "I mean, it’s sprinkled with things, anti-government ideas, treason, tyranny, the gold — get back to the gold standard, that kind of stuff that seems like, you know, I don’t know who else but Glenn Beck talks about that stuff."
"I’m not saying he was specifically listening to Mr. Beck or anybody else. But Glenn Beck is also a little nutty. I mean, you know, this Jared guy’s chalkboard in his basement, I’m not sure it would look that different than Glenn Beck’s chalkboard," he added.
An ">image published to Beck's website, of the conspiracy host holding a handgun and posing like a character in a television action-drama, was recently pulled offline.
Former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan called on Palin and others to "tone down the rhetoric."
"I’d give everybody the advice to tone down the rhetoric and to get away from the military or the armed metaphors," he told MSNBC's Joe Scarborough Monday.
"Isn’t this an opportune time for them to apologize -- not saying that it led to anything -- but just saying that they’ve been irresponsible in their rhetoric and they’re going to be more careful moving forward?" Scarborough asked.