The media is not “completely” monolithic in what it strongly believes, but it “almost” is. The difference between “almost” and “completely” is FOX NEWS or it was, but FOX now seems to be melding into that ideological middle where history is ignored and relativism is a value. “Fair and Balanced” is fast becoming more slogan than operating system and nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the way they treat Israel and the extent to which they are tolerating antisemitism as part of their network’s conversation.
Here are a few examples:
• For some time, FOX has been using Israelphobic Michael Scheuer as a commentator. Bill O’Reilly is most responsible for this, but Judge Napolitano also made him a regular and this pompous “head of the Bin Laden Desk” at the CIA foams at the mouth whenever he can steer the conversation to Israel. In his book, Marching Toward Hell “Scheuer gives us that nasty bit of antisemitic trope…”the war in Iraq… was instigated by U.S. citizen Israel-firsters and their evangelical Christian allies”. His Walt-Mersheimer subliminal theme is that Israel exerts undue influence on U.S. foreign policy through a network of powerful lobbies, organizations and large political donors. The smarmy Scheuer is ever ready to blame Israel and America’s Jews for all that is wrong in the Middle East and FOX gives him platform to do that.
• Before Scheuer, O’Reilly’s “stand up guy” was Al Sharpton. Al has subsequently gone off to MSNBC where the vile antisemitism that he represents is tolerated more readily. Neither network ever dealt with the man who provoked an anti-Jewish riot in Harlem resulting in several deaths at a Jewish owned store that Sharpton tagged as being run by “outsiders.”
• O’Reilly also harbors Marc Lamont Hill, an offbeat academic who as a regular defends the likes of the execrable Ward Churchill, a faux Indian fired from the University of Colorado because of his characterization of the victims of 9/11 as “little Eichmans” and being deserving of their fate. In defending this guy, Hill also gives hint to where his own feelings are. O’Reilly continues to keep him on.
• Today’s most recent negative trend-setter is Sean Hannity who has given new life to the workmanlike antisemite Pat Buchanan. Buchanan’s encyclopedic compilation of antisemitic remarks are prodigious and in one of his first FOX appearances he was quick to compare Israel’s killing of Iranian nuclear scientists preparing the bomb to eradicate her with the slaughter of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. “Tit for tat” is the cute way he said this. This is the same Buchanan who said that “Hitler was the defender of European Christianity and his only goal was to put to the sword every last Communist.” And the very same Buchanan who, according to Breitbart News, published for years a “repulsive antisemitic publication, ‘The American Conservative,’” run by a self-professed Jew hating editor. It was Buchanan who first coined the term “amen corner” in reference to American Jews who supported Israel and also says that U.S. entry into conflict with Iraq was a Jewish initiative derived solely for Israel’s not America’s benefit. His presence on FOX besmirches the network.
• Then there is the constant ignorance of Geraldo Rivera. One only has to spend a few seconds listening to his reporting from the “Occupied Territories,” as he calls them, to gauge the depth of his ignorance of the facts on the ground. Most recently he had a tete a tete with his “old and dear friend “ Hanan Ashwari, the dependable propagandist for the Palestinian narrative. Geraldo regularly parrots the whole Palestinian narrative.
• And most recently Bob Beckel, on “The Five” referred to a group of Israelis meeting with Mitt Romney as “diamond merchants.” Could those be Arabs, Christians or Jews? Bob and Fox must know that the term used in that way connotes stereotype and prejudice.
None of this is casual stuff. Antisemitism creeps into media environments like FOX NEWS in innocuous doses, but soon becomes ever-present and accepted.
Unlike the courageous William F. Buckley who would not allow the stench of antisemitism in the person of his then editor Joseph Sobran to contaminate his National Review Magazine, there seems to be no such compunction at FOX. And when Buckley also opened the debate on the writings and opinions of Patrick Buchanan in the mid-90’s, who was another editor and contributor to the Review, he came up with the same opinion and took the same action: banning Buchanan from his publication. He said he didn’t know if Buchanan was or was not an antisemite, but he thought his writings showed enough of that hatred to remove him from the masthead of his publication too. In the doing Buckley assured the Republican Party an immediate future free of antisemitic influence.
What Bill Buckley did was exhibit a moral courage that most of the media lacks and FOX is now losing. It takes courage to do the right thing and FOX doesn’t seem to have it as it starts its descent into that cauldron of opinion in the so-called middle where right and wrong are always relative and never absolute. More’s the pity, for courage is the thing that made FOX what it is today. Not ego. Not brashness. Not relativity, but courage. FOX which once led, increasingly becomes a follower. FOX has to realize that the poison that is antisemitism needs be fully removed not merely “balanced.” Pollution, once in the mix, spoils everything.