Fox News' Roger Ailes Calls NPR Execs "Nazis"

Producer Roger Ailes attend a cocktail party hosted by Harvey and Bob Weinstein and Miramax Books to celebrate Peter Bart's new book ''BOFFO'' on June 26, 2006 in New York City. Getty Images/Peter Kramer

Producer Roger Ailes
Roger Ailes
Getty Images/Peter Kramer

Updated 5:01 p.m. Eastern Time

Fox News chairman Roger Ailes is characterizing executives at NPR as Nazis.

"They are, of course, Nazis," Ailes told the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz. "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. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive."

Putting aside the Nazis comment, the claim that NPR (previously known as National Public Radio) uses government funding to "keep them alive" is questionable at best: Even when indirect funding is included, less than one tenth of NPR's budget comes from taxpayer dollars. It receives no direct federal funding for operations.

NPR reemerged as a lightning rod for conservative criticism thanks to the decision to fire contributor Juan Williams in part for his comments that he gets "nervous" when he sees Muslims on his airplane flights.

The firing prompted Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin, among others, to call for NPR to be stripped of federal funding.

Ailes later semi-apologized for his comment in a letter to the Anti Defamation League.

"I was of course ad-libbing and should not have chosen that word, but I was angry at the time because of NPR's willingness to censor Juan Williams for not being liberal enough," he wrote, as TV Newser reports.

"I'm writing this just to let you know some background but also to apologize for using 'Nazi' when in my now considered opinion, 'nasty, inflexible bigot' would have worked better," he added.

House Republicans announced Wednesday that they planned to force a vote on cutting funding to NPR in response to the Williams firing.

"When NPR executives made the decision to unfairly terminate Juan Williams and to then disparage him afterwards, the bias of their organization was exposed," House GOP Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (Colo.) said in a statement, as The Hill reports. "Make no mistake, it is not the role of government to tell news organizations how to operate. What is avoidable, however, is providing taxpayer funds to news organizations that promote a partisan point of view. Eliminating taxpayer funding for NPR is precisely the kind of commonsense cut that we have to begin making if we want to fundamentally alter the way business is conducted in Washington." (UPDATE: House Democrats today shot down the effort.)

Conservative Republican Senator Jim DeMint announced plans last month to put forth a similar bill in the Senate

NPR wasn't Ailes' only target in his interview with Kurtz: He called Comedy Central's Jon Stewart "crazy" if "really smart" and said Stewart "openly admits he's sort of an atheist and a socialist."

He also said President Obama "had to be told by the French and the Germans that his socialism was too far left for them to deal with" and said the president "just has a different belief system than most Americans."

In response to the Nazi comments, left-leaning media watchdog group Media Matters sent reporters a list of instances in which Fox News hosts have used Nazi imagery to criticize opponents. The list includes more than eleven instances of Glenn Beck using such imagery as well as multiple examples from Bill O'Reilly.


Brian Montopoli is senior political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of his posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.

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