WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Fox News chief Roger Ailes apologized to the Anti-Defamation League for calling National Public Radio executives "Nazis."
Ailes made the comment in an interview with the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz, who was canvassing recent controversies about the right-leaning news channel. Ailes hired Juan Williams, a commentator, full time after NPR fired Williams for saying on a Fox News report that he feared seeing Muslims on airplanes. In the interview, Ailes also said said "left-wing rabbis" make it difficult to use the term "Holocaust" on air.
On Thursday, Ailes issued an apology to the ADL -- the organization from which offending American public figures typically seek mea culpas after making anti-Jewish remarks. Ailes wrote he was sorry for using the term Nazi. "I was of course ad-libbing and should not have chosen that word,” he wrote, “but I was angry at the time because of NPR’s willingness to censor Juan Williams for not being liberal enough.”
The ADL's national director, Abraham Foxman, accepted the apology.“I welcome Roger Ailes apology, which is as sincere as it is heartfelt,” Foxman said in a statement. “While I wish Roger had never invoked that terminology, I appreciate his efforts to immediately reach out and to retract his words before they did any further harm.”
Just prior to ADL's publication of the apology, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) went to the U.S. House of Representatives floor to denounce Ailes.
"Mr. Ailes should apologize for these despicable statements of total insensitivity which should not be connected to a president of a major news organization," Engel said.
Williams and NPR long had feuded over Williams' work on Fox, where he worked as a commentator and tended to express opinions rather than the analytical voice NPR says it expects from its employees.
"They are, of course, Nazis," Ailes said of NPR executives. "They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view. They don’t even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda."
Ailes also commented on the recent controversy involving Fox News commentator Glenn Beck and liberal billionaire George Soros. Beck, citing Soros' writings and interviews, said several days earlier that Soros as a teenager in Nazi-occupied Hungary had helped send Jews to death camps and had confiscated their properties.
A number of Jewish groups complained in Soros' defense, saying that Beck was using a survivor's experience of Nazi oppression to incriminate him in Nazi crimes. But Fox has stood by Beck.
In his writings, Soros has described living as a Christian in order to save his life. In one case, he accompanied his Christian protector to a Jewish-owned property to catalog goods; the owner already had fled. In another, he delivered summonses from the local Jewish council to local Jewish lawyers, but on his father's advice warned the lawyers to flee as the summonses likely indicated deportation.
Ailes also complained to Kurtz that there are "left-wing rabbis who basically don’t think that anybody can ever use the word 'Holocaust' on the air.”
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