ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And I'm Melissa Block.
Fox News and NPR have once again found themselves in the news, this time because of comments from Fox News chief Roger Ailes. In published remarks yesterday, he referred to NPR executives as Nazis for terminating the contract of news analyst Juan Williams.
As NPR's media correspondent David Folkenflik reports, references to Nazis and the Holocaust have become commonplace on Fox News.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK: Ailes offered an apology of sorts, but his remarks were hardly out of character for the network.
On his TV and radio shows, here's how Glenn Beck has attacked the Obama administration and its liberal allies.
Mr. GLENN BECK (Host, "The Glenn Beck Program"): You have to think like a German Jew in 1934.
Well, some believe that the idea of eugenics got ugly before they started gassing Jews and homosexuals.
This is what Nazi Joseph Goebbels said about the Hitler Youth.
FOLKENFLIK: Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank has followed the rhetorical blasts and footage on the Glenn Beck show closely. He's the author of a new book on Beck, called "Tears of a Clown."
Mr. DANA MILBANK (Columnist, The Washington Post; Author, "Tears of a Clown"): A lot of it is the imagery, the - you know, the Nazi banners, the Nazi parades. You know, we've seen this movie before, and the Nazis march across the screen.
FOLKENFLIK: But Beck often pivots, warning viewers as well about a shadow government in a way that some of his critics say evoke classic elements of anti-Semitic slurs.
The piece de resistance - by far - came just last week about the liberal billionaire financier George Soros, who is a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust. Beck called him the Puppet Master.
Mr. BECK: He is known as the man who broke the Bank of England. The prime minister of Malaysia called Soros an unscrupulous profiteer. In Thailand, he was branded the economic war criminal. They also said that he sucks the blood from people.
Professor DEBORAH LIPSTADT (Holocaust Studies, Emory University): For Glenn Beck to entitle his show "The Puppet Master," to talk about Soros as sucking the blood of nations, is just to use traditional anti-Semitic imagery.
FOLKENFLIK: Deborah Lipstadt is professor of Holocaust studies at Emory University. She notes that the Malaysian prime minister cited by Beck had also ranted that Jews were behind his economy's instability - and that Beck even claimed Soros, as a young teen, collaborated with the Nazis in his native Hungary.
Prof. LIPSTADT: I haven't heard anything like this on television or radio, and I've been following this kind of stuff. And I've been in the sewers of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial more often than I've wanted.
FOLKENFLIK: Beck tied Soros to a variety of foundations and media groups, including NPR, which has received a $1.8 million grant for local reporting from Soros' foundation.
Beck and Ailes are by no means the first to call others Nazis. But Fox News does stand out amid mainstream media outlets, for its ferocity and frequency in doing so. Milbank found Beck had referred to Hitler or Nazis on his Fox News program several hundred times.
Fox News did not comment for this story. However, back in February 2009, Beck told me he had been promised free rein by Roger Ailes when he joined Fox.
Mr. BECK: He said, I look at this place as the Alamo. And I said, how do you mean? And he said, just nobody going to shut anybody up here. This is where the truth will take its last stand. You say it as you believe it.
FOLKENFLIK: That very month, Beck dipped into his treasure trove of Nazi allusions to assail former Vice President Al Gore's appeal for environmental awareness.
Mr. BECK: The government and its friends are indoctrinating our children for the control of their minds, your freedom, and our choice and our future. This is what Nazi Joseph Goebbels said about the Hitler Youth.
FOLKENFLIK: I asked Beck back then why he would say that.
Mr. BECK: The Hitler Youth - well, I don't think Al Gore is going to, you know, put anybody in gas chambers. I don't think we're actually going down that road. But when I heard him say, well, you know, your parents don't understand the things that you just instinctively know - you've got to be kidding me, right? Next, why don't you just have them report on me if I'm not recycling as well?
FOLKENFLIK: In remarks published in the Daily Beast Thursday, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes railed against NPR executives, saying quote: They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism.
Yesterday, I happened to be interviewing former Fox News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett on a completely different story. Garrett, now at the National Journal, has only positive things to say about Ailes. But here is Garrett's reaction as he first hears Ailes' words about NPR.
Mr. MAJOR GARRETT: I don't even know what - I don't even know where that comes from. It's - wow.
FOLKENFLIK: I can't think of somebody else who's a media executive, who would talk in those terms.
Mr. GARRETT: No, I can't either. I don't even know how to begin to just react to that.
FOLKENFLIK: Ailes apologized - not to NPR, but in a letter to a Jewish advocacy group, saying he should have said quote: nasty, inflexible bigot - not Nazi.
NPR officials say he's missing the point, and that his rhetoric is an insult to NPR's journalists and listeners.
David Folkenflik, NPR News, New York.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.