Fox News responds to rabbis calling for sanctions on Glenn Beck

Joe Pompeo
Media Reporter
The Cutline

Fox News has issued a statement on the full-page ad that a coalition of several hundred rabbis took out in Thursday's Wall Street Journal.

The letter, addressed to News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch (see image here), requests that host Glenn Beck "be sanctioned by Fox News for his completely unacceptable attacks on a survivor of the Holocaust" -- philanthropist and financier George Soros -- and that Fox News chief executive "Roger Ailes apologize for his dismissive remarks about rabbis' sensitivity to how the Holocaust is used on the air." (News Corp. owns both Fox News and the Journal.)

In a statement provided to The Cutline, Joel Cheatwood, senior vice president of development for Fox News, said: "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."

The rabbi coalition's letter refers in part to Beck's Nov. 10, 2010 broadcast, part of a three-day series about the liberal billionaire. In that broadcast, Beck said that Soros, who lived apart from his parents in his early teens to avoid being apprehended by the Nazis, "used to go around with this anti-Semite and deliver papers to the Jews and confiscate their property and then ship them off. … It was frightening. Here's a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps." Soros, a Hungarian Jew, has spoken publicly about escaping the death camps by posing as a member of a Christian family. His protector's job was to confiscate property from Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary.

The letter also states that Beck has made "literally hundreds of on-air references to the Holocaust and Nazis when characterizing people with whom [Beck] disagree[s]," and that he "routinely compares American leaders to Nazis."

Back in August, this blog reported that Cheatwood and Ailes met privately with three Jewish leaders over Beck's comments. At the time, Simon Greer, chief executive of the liberal Jewish Funds for Justice, told us that Ailes and Cheatwood acknowledged Beck had crossed a line. He also praised both executives, saying that "they took things very seriously, and I have a lot of respect for that."

The letter's mention of Ailes is a reference to comments the Fox News chief made to Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast last November. He described complaints as coming from "left-wing rabbis who basically don't think that anybody can ever use the word, Holocaust, on the air."

In the same interview, Ailes called NPR executives Nazis for firing Juan Williams, who also works for Fox News. He subsequently apologized to the Anti-Defamation League for the remark, 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."

The signatories of Thursday's letter conclude: "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. 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."

Beck declined to comment through a spokesman.

(Photo of Beck: AP/Jose Luis Magana)