A recent interview of Fox News chief Roger Ailes by Howard Kurtz suggested that the channel is becoming less conservative by design. The real question, not addressed in the piece, is whether the relentless attacks on the channel by George Soros-funded groups have anything to do with this change in the direction of the popular channel and the demise of the Glenn Beck program in particular.
On Glenn Beck’s new TV program, carried on the Internet, Beck himself seemed to indicate this was the case. Talking about Orson Wells, his career, vision and his “Citizen Kane” movie, Beck said, “One of the biggest things [he taught me was] he picked a lot of ill-advised fights, sometimes risking his entire career against titans of industry. It did occur to me recently maybe I should have considered that little part of his life a little more before I locked horns with George Soros.”1 The implication is that Beck’s battle with Soros left him without a job on Fox News.
If this is the case, then we have reached a point in the United States when a private individual has obtained the power to prevent the most popular cable news channel in the country from subjecting his financial and political influence to scrutiny. It is important to see how this was done.
In fairness, Fox has covered Soros after the end of the Beck program. But Beck was doing so in a systematic manner by devoting whole shows to the topic. The sheer magnitude of organizations financially supported by the billionaire makes such an analysis necessary. That is what America’s Survival, Inc. we are doing through our Sorosfiles.com project.
As someone who had been writing about Soros in depth since 2004 (see The Hidden Soros Agenda: Drugs, Money, the Media, and Political Power), Beck’s interest was welcomed and represented what many conservatives hoped would be a long-overdue effort to cover the activities of what the left would call a “fat cat” in the political process. The left, of course, doesn’t apply that label to Soros because they receive so much of his money. To them, he is a sincere “philanthropist.”
Beck, who had one of the most successful programs on the channel, left Fox News on July 1, 2011, and launched his own Internet TV show, which appears to be a success in terms of paid subscribers. But some are saying that its influence pales in comparison to the perch that Beck had on Fox News. Clearly, the “progressives” who feared Beck were far more concerned about his Fox News Channel program than his Internet venture.
At the recent “Take Back the American Dream Conference,” held October 3-5. 2011, in Washington, D.C., former Obama “Green Jobs Czar” Van Jones claimed that Beck wasn’t on television any more. He said this in the context of admitting that his exit from the Obama Administration, in response to charges made by blogger Trevor Loudon and Beck and others, had been a traumatic time for him.
In fact, of course, Beck is on television, albeit Internet TV. But the point was that Beck was gone from cable television, which was much more of a powerful position in terms of the resources he was able to bring to bear to expose figures like Jones. It is a sign of Beck’s declining influence that Jones was rehabilitated and emerged at the conference as director of the “Take Back the American Dream” movement.
As Howard Kurtz told the story, there has been a “course correction” at Fox News and that the change was “quietly adopted at Fox over the last year” because of the problem posed by the “inflammatory rhetoric” of Glenn Beck, such as “his ranting about Obama being a racist.” Ailes was quoted as saying that this had become a “a bit of a branding issue for us.”
There was no ranting from Beck on this topic. His comments were based in part on Obama’s own statements on racial issues, such as his attack on the police for arresting a black professor, Henry Louis Gates. Obama called the police “stupid,” without knowing the facts about Gates’ obnoxious behavior.
The implication is that Beck was fired – technically a deal was reached in which Fox News said Beck would “transition off” the channel – because of charges that Beck was a racist. But Beck had accused Obama of racism in the summer of 2009 and lost his show over a year later. Something must have happened in the meantime. That “something” was that Beck picked a different target – billionaire George Soros.
It’s true that Beck had been the subject of an advertiser boycott, organized by a group called “Color of Change,” founded by Van Jones, but he still had the number three show in cable news. Howard Kurtz reported Beck still had “monster ratings.”
Beck began his campaign against Soros on November 10, 2010, when he announced that he was “pulling back the structure progressives have worked decades to put in place” and that, “Beneath every layer lies one common thread: George Soros.” Beck called Soros the “Puppet Master” and “one of the most powerful forces in the Progressive Movement.”
But because Soros is Jewish, a line of attack soon emerged against Beck that his criticism of the billionaire speculator was anti-Semitic. Some of this had to with Beck noting the fact that Soros, when he was a 14-year-old boy in Nazi-occupied Hungary, had assisted in confiscating property from Jews, and that he said he had no guilt over it.
Interestingly, these Soros comments were taken from a December 20, 1998, CBS “60 Minutes” interview of Soros conducted by Steve Kroft. It may constitute the last serious interview of Soros conducted by a major media figure. In recent years Soros has gone to more sympathetic talking heads for a platform, such as Fareed Zakaria of CNN, someone Soros thanks in the acknowledgements section of his book, The Bubble of American Supremacy.
The interview included this exchange:
Kroft: I mean, that’s–that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?
Soros: Not–not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don’t–you don’t see the connection. But it was–it created no–no problem at all.
Kroft: No feeling of guilt?
Kroft: For example that, “I’m Jewish and here I am, watching these people go. I could just as easily be there. I should be there.” None of that?
Soros: Well, of course I c–I could be on the other side or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was no sense that I shouldn’t be there, because that was–well, actually, in a funny way, it’s just like in markets–that if I weren’t there–of course, I wasn’t doing it, but somebody else would–would–would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the–whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. So the–I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt.
Michael T. Kaufman’s sympathetic biography of the “messianic billionaire” called the “60 Minutes” story “bizarre” and accused Kroft of interviewing Soros with “prosecutorial gusto.” But the story was nothing of the sort. It was a matter-of-fact treatment of a controversial billionaire who had made most of his money through speculating about the rise and fall of nations’ currencies.
This interview caught Soros off-guard, especially in terms of the reaction. It helped to alert the public — and Jewish people in particular — to one reason why Soros had been decidedly unsympathetic to the Jewish state of Israel. It may have been over the top to suggest that Soros had been a Nazi sympathizer or collaborator. On the other hand, his activities could not be easily dismissed, even though he was young at the time. Most of the damage was caused not by what he did as a boy, but by Soros looking back on that period in his life and rationalizing or excusing what he had done in terms of the operations of markets.
However, it’s precisely those activities that continue to haunt Soros and cry out for media scrutiny and investigation. That was the trail that Beck was on at the time that the rug was pulled out from under him.
It is rare for top public figures, in the media or elsewhere, to publicly challenge Soros. In October 2004, when Soros was spending millions of dollars to defeat President George W. Bush for re-election, Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert charged that Soros was getting money from mysterious foreign sources possibly connected to the illegal drug cartels. Soros, who favors legalization of hard drugs, strongly denied that connection and threatened to sue Hastert for suggesting it. Soros’s defenders in the press said it couldn’t be foreign money because Soros had become, according to a press account, a naturalized American citizen in 1961.
But being an American doesn’t mean you don’t get foreign money. The hedge funds that Soros operates rely on mysterious and secret sources of funds.
Kaufman’s own bio of the billionaire notes that his “somewhat Byzantine money-making operation,” the Quantum Fund, was based in Curacao and consisted of “very rich individuals” whose identities may or may not have been known to Soros himself. One of his other funds, Quantum Partners, was chartered in the Cayman Islands.
In other words, Soros had based his funds off-shore, in order to avoid scrutiny by the U.S. Government and the press.
Hastert’s comments may have been a reference to the fact that Soros was reported to have invested in Colombia when the Drug Enforcement Administration was warning of drug money being laundered in the banks down there. Soros had been convicted of insider trading in France.
In October 2011, at a time when several “progressive” groups were cooperating with “Occupy Wall Street” protests, it seemed strange that Soros was avoiding similar scrutiny. Perhaps his bankrolling of the progressive movement that Beck was beginning to uncover had something to do with it.
However, before the controversy developed over what Beck was saying about Soros, Simon Greer, President and CEO of a group called Jewish Funds for Justice, said that he and other Jewish leaders had a July 2010 meeting with Fox News President Roger Ailes and the producer of Glenn Beck’s television show, Joel Cheatwood, and “spoke for almost an hour about the concerns held by many Jews about Glenn Beck’s constant and often inappropriate invocation of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany on the air.” Beck had made those comments in reference to what he perceived to be a totalitarian future for the U.S. if certain ominous trends were not reversed.
Greer said that, “We were assured by Ailes and Cheatwood that they understand our concerns and would explain them to Beck. Two days later, I received a hand-written note from Beck, which stated: ‘Simon, Joel shared the details of your meeting yesterday. Please know that I understand the sensitivity and sacred nature of this dark chapter in Human History. Thank you for your candor and helpful thoughts.’”
However, Cheatwood was quoted as saying about the meeting that, “We absolutely stood behind Glenn Beck 1000 percent.” and that his references to such matter as the Holocaust were appropriate.
Greer re-entered the picture when Soros came under attack, saying that Beck’s account of Soros escaping the Nazis was “a form of Holocaust revisionism” and “false.” He wrote a column on November 11, 2010, saying that Beck’s words “have consequences” and “advance a world view that ultimately places Jews like Soros in the crosshairs.” He added that he would be sending a letter with other Jewish leaders to Glenn Beck, Roger Ailes, and Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News parent company News Corporation, expressing concern over this.
Whether Beck’s depictions were accurate or not, it seems apparent that the Soros controversy had much more impact on Fox News than Beck’s old comments about Obama’s alleged racism.
On top of Greer’s article, hundreds of rabbis signed an open letter to Murdoch, published on January 27, 2011, in the Wall Street Journal and the Jewish newspaper the Forward, requesting that Beck be “sanctioned by Fox News” and that Ailes apologize for saying that the complaints over Beck were made by “left wing rabbis who basically don’t think that anybody can ever use the word ‘Holocaust’ on the air.”
Joel Cheatwood responded that, “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 Soros-funded organization was the aforementioned Jewish Funds for Justice, headed by Greer.
In response to the accusation that they were defending Soros because they received money from him, an anti-Fox news site called “News Hounds” quoted the organization’s Chief Strategic Officer Mik Moore as saying, “OSI [the Soros-funded Open Society Institute] has given money to Jewish Funds for Justice for one of our managed projects, called the Funders Collaborative for Youth Organizing. We serve to essentially pass that money through to FCYO, which engages youth in civic participation work. Here is the listing on the OSI website. We do not receive any other funding from Soros or his philanthropies, although we would be proud to be supported by OSI and Soros.”
Despite the comments from Cheatwood and Ailes, these attacks took their toll and it was announced that Beck would leave Fox News. Since Murdoch had received a “National Human Relations Award” from the American Jewish Committee in 2009, it is not unreasonable to speculate that the charge that he had employed an anti-Semite, however false, was particularly hurtful. It makes sense to conclude that a decision was made in the higher echelons of News Corporation that Beck had to go. Beck’s comments quoted earlier, in regard to following the example of Orson Wells and taking on powerful business figures, add to this perception.
Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Caroline Glick blamed Beck’s departure from the channel on “the liberal American Jewish establishment” which rejected his “outspoken attacks on George Soros,” the “extremist leftist anti-American and anti-Zionist global financier who has given more than $100 million to radical leftist groups.”
The Left’s attacks on Beck are fueled by the fact that he is a Christian Zionist. The Left’s default mode is to accuse Christian Zionists of a hidden agenda to convert Jews and a secret desire to see us killed in an Armageddon.
But in truth the media’s embrace of Israel’s enemies, their rejection of Beck, and most important Beck’s refusal to bow to their conventional wisdom that Israel’s enemies should be praised and its friends should be condemned all reveal the reason that Christian Zionists can be trusted and embraced by Israelis.
Christian Zionists – like Jewish religious Zionists – are unmoved by the media’s intimidation because of their faith in God, and their reliance on scripture. Their faith provides them with a means of judging reality that is independent of the largely post-religious intellectual commissariat that runs the media and the cultural elite in the Western world. They don’t seek or care about receiving the accolades of the New York Times or other post-religious totems for their actions. And Beck’s message to Israelis is that we shouldn’t care either.
For most Israelis, this message rings powerful and true. But for the media, in Israel and throughout the West, it is dangerous sedition that must be marginalized and destroyed.
If Beck is a Christian Zionist committed to Israel and someone who sees the role of the Jewish state in Biblical prophecy, it is just as certain that Soros is a figure who does not believe in any of that. Indeed, an avowed atheist, he stated in his book, Soros on Soros, that Zionism “just doesn’t appeal to me” and that he is in support of “reconciliation” between Israel and the Palestinians, including Hamas, which he conceded is an unsavory group.
His mentor, the philosopher Karl Popper (1902-1994), was equally opposed to the state of Israel and maintained “his outright rejection of Jewish statehood” until his death. 2
But it would be a mistake to say that the Jewish attacks on Beck were alone the deciding factor in his ouster from Fox. Beck began naming a series of groups getting Soros money and they all responded with their own attacks on the Fox News host. This serves as an example of how Soros performs as the “puppet master,” whether deliberately or not. The Soros-funded groups know that they are expected to support and defend their sponsor.
For example, the American Constitution Society (ACS) complained about Beck’s reference to the organization working “in the shadows” and cited another Soros-funded group, Media Matters, as debunking that claim.
For its part, Media Matters announced on October 20, 2010, that it had received $1 million from Soros. The group issued a statement from the billionaire saying:
Despite repeated assertions to the contrary by various Fox News commentators, I have not to date been a funder of Media Matters. However, in view of recent evidence suggesting that the incendiary rhetoric of Fox News hosts may incite violence, I have now decided to support the organization. Media Matters is one of the few groups that attempts to hold Fox News accountable for the false and misleading information they so often broadcast. I am supporting Media Matters in an effort to more widely publicize the challenge Fox News poses to civil and informed discourse in our democracy.
Although Soros had not personally donated to Media Matters before that time, it was “developed” with help from the Center for American Progress (CAP), funded by Soros. CAP gave Media Matters some office space when it was being formed. What’s more, Media Matters received funding from the so-called Democracy Alliance, which is funded by George Soros.
The connections of Media Matters to the Democratic Party are substantial, suggesting that the organization functions largely as a Democratic Party front. The group’s “senior adviser,” Dennis Yedwab, served as the director of strategic resources at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and research director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Other staffers have come from the Al Gore campaign, the Clinton-Gore 1996 Committee, the ACLU, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, and the Soros-funded Center for American Progress.
Katie Barge, the former director of research for Media Matters, became research director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), only to resign under fire when she was alleged to have participated in an effort to fraudulently obtain a credit report on Maryland’s Republican Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, who was running for the U.S. Senate. Her subordinate at the DSCC, Lauren B. Weiner, was charged with a crime in the case but there was no explanation of why Barge was not.
At the 2011 Campaign for America’s Future conference, Ilyse Hogue, a senior adviser to Media Matters, was a speaker. She had been the Director of Political Advocacy and Communications for the Soros-funded MoveOn.org.
Media Matters is run for former conservative David Brock, who abandoned the conservative cause and announced he was a homosexual.
Brock’s 2002 book, Blinded by the Right, is quite extraordinary in that it begins with a prologue admitting that the author was responsible for telling “lies” and ruining reputations. Assuming some parts of the book are true, at least those concerning Brock personally, it describes a young man struggling with an immoral lifestyle. Writing about college, for example, he says, “With some hesitation, during my freshman year, I went on uneasy dates and had hurried sexual encounters with other guys in neighboring dorms.” Later, he writes that he would go “out to bars looking for one-night hookups with some frequency, always by myself, very late at night, with few knowing, and no one caring, who I was.”
In two Esquire articles, Brock repudiated his Clinton muckraking and apologized to the president. His flip-flop appears to have been related to the close relationship that Brock, a closeted homosexual, established with Hillary Clinton’s openly gay press secretary, Neal Lattimore.
My only encounter with Brock came when he was a conservative and wanted help with an article he was writing about the left-wing Christic Institute. I had researched the organization extensively and had debated its leader on C-SPAN. I provided much of his research to Brock, who came into my office on the condition that he credit me in his piece. He did not.
Years later, when he became an ex-conservative, his Media Matters group published an item falsely implying that I had fabricated a letter from the Afghan Ambassador. The Brock group rushed into print with this defamatory item without checking the facts beforehand. Then it refused to retract or apologize after being caught. Like Brock, the organization can’t be trusted to say or do what is right.
But when Glenn Beck made minor errors, such as saying that the American Constitution Society operated “in the shadows,” the Soros-funded media network went crazy. Beck’s charge was sensational but misleading. It is a fact, however, that Soros himself has operated “in the shadows” and this is an area that the liberal media, except for some notable exceptions, have not examined.
Another factor was the backlash caused by Beck’s exposure of Obama official Van Jones’ communist background. The attack on Jones had preceded the exposing of Soros.
In fact, blogger Trevor Loudon of New Zealand had broken the story about Van Jones on April 6, 2009. Beck ran with the story, forcing Jones from the Obama Administration.
On June 20, 2011, attorneys acting on behalf of Jones — Sandler, Reiff, Young & Lamb — had sent a letter to Fox News demanding that the network immediately cease using six characterizations about Jones and demanding a retraction from Glenn Beck. There is no evidence that such a retraction was made, but the letter was a form of intimidation that must have had some effect.
One thing is certain: Soros money is controversial, even scandalous.
Marvin Olasky wrote an article for World magazine mentioning that Jim Wallis’s organization, Sojourners, received $200,000 from Soro’s OSI and had a printout of a page from the website of the Open Society Institute showing this to be the case. When asked about this, Wallis exploded: “It’s not hyperbole or overstatement to say that Glenn Beck lies for a living. I’m sad to see Marvin Olasky doing the same thing. No, we don’t receive money from Soros.” Wallis went on, “We don’t receive money from George Soros. Our books are totally open, always have been. Our money comes from Christians who support us and who read Sojourners. That’s where it comes from.”
Soon, however, the listing of the grant disappeared from the OSI website. Nevertheless, Olasky still found it on one of the OIS tax returns, showing the $200,000 grant. Wallis was forced to admit making a mistake.
Jay Richards of National Review covered the controversy in two important articles. One was titled, “Why Is Jim Wallis Denying that He Receives Grants from Deep-Pocketed Leftists like George Soros?,” and the other,
Wallis claimed to have forgotten the fact of his funding from Soros, but it is certainly true that it is controversial, to say the least, for a self-described Christian activist to take money from a foundation associated with the atheist billionaire. So the denial of funding may have stemmed from embarrassment over the source of the funds.
As the Jewish Funds for Justice accelerated its attack on Beck, other Soros-funded groups, including Media Matters and the Center for American Progress, joined in. CAP writer Eric Alterman wrote a piece, “Think Again: Glenn Beck and the Uses of Anti-Semitic Propaganda,” in which he felt compelled to justify his own financial association with the billionaire:
I often see my name linked to Soros as a member of the “Soros-funded” this or that. But the fact is, I have met the man only two or three times in my life and have never engaged in a substantive conversation with him. Since we care about many of the same things and share certain perspectives on issues—though we disagree strongly on others—my work as a historian and a journalist often appears consistent with his as a funder. Since I’ve had many institutional affiliations during my career, a few of them, including the Center for American Progress, are among the causes Soros funds. But at no time have I ever had a talk with anyone representing Soros or anyone receiving funding from Soros that focused on his money in relationship to my writing.
He went on to say that he didn’t have the time or interest to rebut Beck’s accusations but that “Media Matters has addressed all of them,” adding, “How ironic that the only place in the media to go for a thorough airing of the issues raised by these attacks must be undertaken by an organization that has recently become a Soros beneficiary.”
It is more than ironic. Alterman apparently didn’t connect the Media Matters attacks on Beck with its subsequent receipt of funding from him.
Alterman asked, “Is this kind of ugly slander not a story worthy of significant investigation anywhere else in the mainstream media?” In fact, however, Beck’s investigations, while sloppy in parts, were greatly needed, at a time when “progressives” themselves claim to be concerned about the influence of big money in the political process.
This is the kind of attack that serves an obvious purpose for Soros. Alterman called on the media to investigate attacks on Soros, rather than Soros himself.
The sacking of Beck was a major victory for Soros and his network.
1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDdXMZ3oDM4 BGTV premier show.