Concerned About Foxification of UK News, British MP Says Rupert Murdoch Must Answer for Glenn Beck
During a debate on anti-Semitism at Westminster Hall yesterday, British MP Tom Watson (West Bromwich East) warned his colleagues about the “foxification” of UK news and urged thinking citizens in the UK, US and Australia to stand up to the Murdoch brand of “news” and call out the “Murdochs’ vicious brand of politics that masquerades as publishing.”
This is must see TV, but you should be warned that if you value reasonable debate, it may make you weep for your country. Sadly, this kind of debate would not take place in our current governmental atmosphere. In America, a conservative would have interrupted him before he finished, shrieking hysterically, “you lie!” to the cheers of his frat brothers while instigating rabble-rousers to march outside with armed assault weapons raging about taking up arms against tyranny.
Video courtesy of Media Matters
Transcript courtesy of UK Parliament. British MP Tom Watson speaking:
I have been made aware of recent comments by Glenn Beck …Although the comments were broadcast primarily in the US, it cannot and must not be forgotten that the show is also aired daily, live on Sky TV, in the UK. Glenn Beck singled out Simon Greer, the chief executive officer and president of an organisation in the US called Jewish Funds for Justice, who made comments about “advancing the common good”. Glenn Beck responded by saying that such comments “are what led to the death camps in Germany”, and that Simon Greer,”as a Jew, should know better.”
Fox executives, including Fox News president, Roger Ailes, and the producer of Glenn Beck’s television show, Joel Cheatwood, assured Jewish Funds for Justice and other community representatives that they understood their concerns, that “ultimate sensitivity must be exercised when referencing the Holocaust”, and that they would explain them to Beck. The organisation subsequently received a handwritten note from Beck to that effect.
After the note was sent, in November 2010, Glenn Beck broadcast a three-part programme on prominent Jewish philanthropist and holocaust survivor George Soros. The programme invoked disturbing language that bore a stark resemblance to the imagery and language used by extreme right-wing groups to demonise the Jewish community in the lead-up to world war two. Glenn Beck referred to George Soros as the “puppet master” and attacked him for having escaped the holocaust and for his pro-democracy work, which he compared to Nazism.
Beck has a highly polemical style that frequently employs rhetoric drawing on the holocaust. Most shockingly, he accused Soros of having been “a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps.”
That provoked enormous offence to the Jewish community in the United States. … These are not isolated incidents of intolerance from Beck. Indeed, in response to some of this stuff, Jewish Funds for Justice compiled the 10 most shocking statements made by Beck in his show during 2010….
I shall quote from the top 10 comments, which are not all anti-Semitic; they also attack other groups and individuals.
No. 1: “God will wash this nation with blood if he has to.”
No. 2: putting “the common good first…leads to death camps.”
No. 3. “Women are psychos.”
No. 4 Beck’s election coverage goal was to make George Soros cry, which Beck said was “hard to do,” as Soros “saw people into gas chambers.”
No. 5: Uncle Sam is a “child molester” who is “raping our wallets” and “destroying our families.”
No. 6: Beck mocks President Obama’s daughters for “their level of education.”
No. 7 Beck said that “we have been sold a lie” that “the poor in America” are suffering.
No. 8: “Charles Darwin is the father of the holocaust.”
No. 9: social justice is a “perversion of the Gospel…not what Jesus was saying.”
Beck likened himself to Israeli Nazi hunters, when he said: “To the day I die, I am going to be a progressive hunter.”
That was No. 10.
I think that most colleagues would agree that those comments are highly alarming and absolutely inappropriate for broadcast on any show, let alone one that positions itself as a news show….I hope we all agree that that is a disturbing number of instances to raise those terms, in a way that is both irresponsible and does not provide any educational or beneficial basis for doing so; for instance, labelling President Obama a “Nazi.” The Holocaust Educational Trust has said: “One of the best ways to combat anti-semitism and prejudice of all kinds is to encourage tolerance and respect twinned with advocacy of engagement with civil society and the democratic process.”
The Glenn Beck show in no way achieves those vitally important aims. That type of journalism is dangerous and can have wide-ranging negative effects on society. …. It is vital that that kind of “news” is not made or broadcast in the UK. However, the proposed acquisition of BSkyB by News Corp means that there is an increased threat of its becoming a reality.
Although the Ofcom code exists to prevent that kind of anti-Semitic language from being broadcast as news, there is still the danger of “foxification” in the UK….I am pleased and extremely encouraged that companies in the UK feel strongly enough about the issue to withhold advertising. It demonstrates that the anti-Semitic and generally divisive, incendiary and prejudicial language that has been broadcast in the UK will not be tolerated in this country. However, it is important that these issues continue to be raised and that TV executives are challenged on such matters.
If Glenn Beck were here today I would say to him: “Glenn Beck, you are a bigot. You bring shame to your country, not because you lack balance, but because you are an unthinking buffoon. Rupert Murdoch tolerates you because you are his useful idiot. He uses you to get a foothold in the doors of the powerful. Like his phone-hacking journalists and his pugnacious leader-writers in Australia, you are expendable. Let us hope he disposes of your nasty brand of intolerance sooner rather than later.”
It is Rupert and James Murdoch who should answer for bigots such as Glenn Beck and phone hackers such as Clive Goodman and Glen Mulcaire. They employ them. They promote them. They are responsible for them. It is time for thinking citizens in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia to unite against the “Murdochs’ vicious brand of politics that masquerades as publishing”.
The honor with which the MP made his points about Fox News and integrity of the debate was startling. In America, reasonable voices expressing concern about the hate emanating from Fox News have been drowned out by the screeching poutrage of the Right. This same poutrage forced the Department of Homeland Security to tamp down a report that warned of domestic terrorism on the rise in America by right wing extremists. When a country refuses to deal with facts and instead cowers to the squeakiest wheels, the integrity of debate and indeed, the entire political machine suffers.
We should be able to have serious debates about the dangers of Fox News’ vicious politics. We should be able to point to Glenn Beck calling for the hunting of progressives and he should be shunned for it, especially after the various incidents of violence his rhetoric has inspired the mentally and emotionally vulnerable to enact. Instead, he is still on the air and he still has a few straggling advertisers. And he is still in defense mode, busy blaming progressives and liberals for his own rhetoric, as does his cohort in violent rhetoric Sarah Palin. Just what will it take before Americans will demand honest debate and stand firm in intellectual integrity against attempts to intimidate citizens and government from holding perpetrators of violent rhetoric accountable for their actions.
Tom Watson is right. We need to hold Murdoch accountable for Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin.
*Slight modification to transcript to make list of examples easier to read.