Earlier today, Media Matters noted Michael Calderone's report that Fox News executives had told Simon Greer of Jewish Funds for Justice that Glenn Beck "crossed the line" when Beck accused of Greer of advocating a philosophy that "leads to death camps." Calderone reported that Greer met with Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and senior vice president Joel Cheatwood on July 26 and that during the meeting, the two executives "agreed that Beck crossed the line in comparing Greer's worldview to that of the Nazis and promised to speak with Beck about the matter." But this evening, Cheatwood disputed that account, telling TVNewser, "Never did we talk about Glenn 'crossing the line.' " TVNewser further reported:
Cheatwood says that during the meeting, he and Ailes explained Beck's perspective that the holocaust is one of the worst events in history and should be handled with a tremendous amount of sympathy. They reinforced that everyone in the media needs to be sensitive around this topic.
Cheatwood said he felt it was an "honest, open, dignified meeting," and that Greer's account as it appeared in the Yahoo! article "didn't bear any resemblance to the truth." "The story basically -- as I read it -- indicated that Roger Ailes and myself had agreed with Greer," he told us.
"We absolutely stood behind Glenn Beck 1000%," he said.
Just so everyone's clear about what Fox News is standing behind, it's worth noting what Beck originally said about Greer on his May 28 radio show.
Beck began by reading from a Washington Post piece that Greer had written about Beck and his attacks on social justice: "Here's what we do for each other as Americans: We grow food, we create jobs, we build homes, pave roads, teach our children, care for our grandparents, secure our neighborhoods. Government makes our country function. To put God first is to put humankind first. To put humankind first is to put the common good first."
After quoting that statement about Americans' shared responsibilities to each other, Beck immediately pounced: "This leads to death camps. A Jew, of all people, should know that. This is exactly the kind of talk that led to the death camps in Germany. Put humankind and the common good first."
Greer himself best explained why those comments are so repulsive when he responded to Beck in a statement the same day:
Glenn Beck has a history recklessly invoking Nazi Germany and the Holocaust in order to advance his political agenda. But never before has Beck accused Jews - including survivors of the Holocaust and their children and grandchildren - of paving the way for fascism. Through his comments, Beck has demonstrated that he has no idea what leads to fascism. Jews and others, who were victims of the Holocaust, do not have the luxury of his ignorance.
It's especially dangerous for Fox News to defend these sorts of outrageous comments by Beck. As Media Matters documented, Fox News figures have consistently stuck up for Beck's infamous statement that President Obama is a "racist" who has "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture" -- both executives like Ailes and Rupert Murdoch and on-air personalities like Sean Hannity.
Fox's defense of this rhetoric has the effect of mainstreaming it, of proving that there are no real consequences for media figures who push the discourse beyond acceptable boundaries. Despite the fact that Beck's accusation that Obama is a racist has led to at least 100 advertisers dropping their ads from his Fox News show, right-wing media figures now routinely call Obama and others in his administration "racist.'
You can be sure that Beck imitators in the media will take note of the fact that Fox is standing "1000%" behind a statement that concern for the common good leads to death camps.