As much as I disagree with the hosts on Fox News, I have never called for any of them to be fired. I defended Don Imus when he got in trouble with his incendiary comments. That's because I believe a talk show host should have wide berth, even to offend. They are the conversation starters and at the heart of our political discourse.
Of course, as a talk show host I'm very biased on this issue, but I think it helps the national conversation to hear everyone out. That's even if what they're saying is outrageous or not even remotely true. Let there be a battlefield of ideas and I think the truth will win out in the long run (though it loses many battles in the short run).
Now that you know how strongly I feel about that -- I think Glenn Beck should be fired. He has told a lie so grotesque that it goes beyond the pale of even dirty politics. Just when I thought he couldn't shock my conscience anymore, he has done it. Let me explain.
George Soros survived the Holocaust. He is Jewish and when the Nazis caught up with his family his father saved his life by bribing an agricultural official to pretend Soros was his Christian godson. At one point, that man took the fourteen year old Soros to survey and appraise the property that had been confiscated from another Jewish family. Obviously Soros did not have a choice in the matter. Soros eventually survived the Holocaust.
To most this would be an amazing and harrowing story of survival during the Holocaust. To Beck it was an opportunity to paint Soros as an anti-Semite and smear him with one of the worst lies I have ever heard.
First Beck started by horribly warping this story on his Fox News show. He said of Soros:
[When he was] 14 years old, he had to help the government confiscate the land of his fellow Jewish friends and neighbors.
That's not what happened at all as you can see from above. He didn't help confiscate people's land. He didn't actively participate in betraying his Jewish neighbors or friends. The implications are horrible. But what Beck did next is much worse. He twisted the story further until he came out with this inexcusable lie on his radio show:
[H]ere's a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps.
That lie takes my breath away. That is a lie that cannot be told.
The ADL has now condemned Beck's statements as "horrific."
Michelle Goldberg has a terrific article in The Daily Beast explaining how Beck's two part series on Fox News Channel about George Soros was classic anti-Semitism. He even named the series "Puppet Master." Nazi propaganda used to call Jews the "wire pullers."
The Nazis would say in their propaganda pieces that Jews secretly controlled everything and brought down whatever governments they didn't like. Beck's two part series on Soros talked about how he was the secret force behind the progressive agenda and surreptitiously brought down governments he didn't like (Communist governments by the way, but apparently he doesn't get credit for that). And Beck concludes by saying that we might be next. Soros might destroy our country. This is anti-Semitism 101.
One man has already tried to assassinate people who worked for the Tides Foundation because Beck accused them of being tied to George Soros. That man was caught in a shoot-out with cops before he could kill the people who worked there. Beck undeterred by what he is spurring people to do, has put his foot on the gas pedeal to try to stoke the fires more.
Fox News has told and spread many lies, ranging from the absurd (President Obama is going to spend $200 million a day in his trip to India) to the politically devastating (they invited John Kerry's accusers on-air to smear his Vietnam service repeatedly during the 2004 election). I know that's what they do. But even I didn't know it went this far. If Beck doesn't get fired over this, what else can he say? I literally cannot think of anything more outrageous.
They call themselves a "News Channel." Is this the kind of "news" people want to participate in?
This is the kind of thing people should resign in protest over. This is the kind of thing that guests shouldn't go on the channel over. This is the kind of thing that people shouldn't want their names associated with.
If Fox doesn't fire Beck over this, well then you know exactly where they stand. It certainly isn't as a news channel.
Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CenkUygur