Last week, Glenn Beck did extensive segments on his radio and television shows targeting his chief boogeyman, liberal philanthropist George Soros. Beck charges that Soros is a “puppet master…notorious for collapsing economies and regimes all around the world.” Beck wants viewers to believe that the United States is next, citing Soros’s views on the value of the dollar: “Not only does he want to bring America to her knees, financially, he wants to reap obscene profits off us as well.” According to Beck, this is all a scheme of Soros’ to form a accused Soros of running a “shadow government.” But Beck took his attacks much further, outrageously claiming that Soros — who is Jewish — “help[ed] send the Jews to the death camps.”
As many commentators have noted, Beck’s attacks have a distinctly anti-Semitic tone. Writing in the Daily Beast, Michelle Goldberg notes Beck’s episodes on Soros have a disturbing echo of historical anti-Semitic narratives of Jews controlling banking institutions in a shadowy plot for world domination:
In classic anti-Semitic narratives, Jews control both the elites and the masses; they’re responsible for the communist revolution and the speculative excesses of capitalism. Their goal is to undermine society so that they can take over. Through the lens of anti-Semitism, social division, runaway inflation, and moral breakdown all make sense because they all have the same cause. Nazi propaganda called Jews drahtzieher—wire-pullers. They constitute a power above and beyond ordinary government authority. “There is a super-government which is allied to no government, which is free from them all, and yet which has its hand in them all,” Henry Ford wrote in The International Jew.
Yesterday, the Anti-Defamation League harshly criticized Beck for his portrayal of Soros’ past in holocaust-era Germany as “completely inappropriate and offensive.” Likewise, Simon Greer, president and CEO of Jewish Funds for Justice, also slammed Beck: “His portrayal of Soros today as the ‘Puppet Master,’ as the special was called, evokes anti-Semitic stereotypes from the ‘devaluer of many currencies’ to ‘advocate for one world government’ from ‘anti-American’ to ‘thinks he’s smarter than the rest of us.'”
Yet despite this condemnation from major Jewish groups, Fox News continues to stand by Beck. A spokesman said yesterday that “information regarding Mr. Soros’s experiences growing up were taken directly from his writings and from interviews given by him to the media, and no negative opinion was offered as to his actions as a child.” In reality, when he was 14, Soros was protected from the Nazis by pretending to be a Christian boy, and was once present when a Jewish family had their possessions taken. Goldberg argues that Beck’s claim about Soros aiding the Nazis is an attempt to “inoculate himself against charges of anti-Semitism.”
This is not the first time Fox News executives have faced unrest among the Jewish community about Beck’s views. Yahoo’s The Upshot reported in August that Fox executives had to meet with three Jewish leaders who were uncomfortable with Beck’s repeated, thematic references to Nazis and the holocaust.
Fox’s defense of Beck now is especially curious considering that in the past, the network has repeatedly touted the ADL’s views on issues convenient to Fox News. Anchor Megyn Kelly did a segment loudly overplaying the ADL’s nuanced opposition to the mosque at Ground Zero, for example.
Of course, it’s possible that Fox News executives are fine with Beck’s cavalier attitude towards the holocaust and other things that might offend Jewish groups. Earlier this year, Beck claims a Fox executive told him he was the “key” to averting an “economic holocaust.”