Kristol: Fox is part of 'toxic environment'

Bill Kristol calls out a guest on Fox Business for repeating a "very familiar anti-Semitic trope." He says some right-wing media outlets are part of a "toxic environment" in America. And he says it's past time for people to speak up about "appalling" content.

Posted: Oct 29, 2018 11:47 AM
Updated: Oct 29, 2018 12:05 PM

The Fox Business Network has a Lou Dobbs problem.

On Sunday, the network's senior vice president for programming, Gary Schreier, released a statement denouncing what many people called an anti-Semitic trope used by a guest on Dobbs' show earlier in the week.

The remark drew widespread condemnation when the episode in which it was made was rebroadcast Saturday, hours after a gunman walked into a Pittsburgh synagogue and murdered 11 people in what the Anti-Defamation League called the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in US history.

"We condemn the rhetoric by the guest on Lou Dobbs Tonight," Schreier said in a short statement. "This episode was a repeat which has now been pulled from all future airings."

The comment in question was made by Chris Farrell, a board member of the right-wing organization Judicial Watch, during Thursday night's episode of Dobbs' show. During a segment about the caravan of migrants moving toward the US' southern border, Farrell called the State Department "Soros-occupied" territory, referring to billionaire and liberal philanthropist George Soros, one of the targets of mail bombs discovered earlier this week.

Critics on Saturday were quick to point out that this language echoes a popular anti-Semitic trope. When reached by phone on Sunday, Farrell told CNN he had no comment and hung up.

It wasn't the first time that Farrell had used this language on Dobbs' show. Farrell, a regular guest on the network, called the State Department "Soros-occupied territory" during a May 21 episode.

A Fox spokesperson told CNN Business by email that Farrell will no longer be booked for appearances on the Fox Business Network or its sister channel Fox News.

But the Fox spokesperson did not respond when asked whether Dobbs, who did not condemn or even push back on what Farrell said, was culpable for the comment his guest made on his air.

The Fox spokesperson also did not respond to questions about Dobbs' own rhetoric on Soros. Dobbs is Fox Business Network's highest-rated host.

In the past, Dobbs has referred to Soros as an "evil SOB" and "insidious." Dobbs has also peddled various conspiracy theories about Soros.

This isn't the first time this week that Dobbs has faced widespread criticism. On Thursday, he sent multiple conspiratorial tweets about the bombs mailed to high-profile Democrats, Soros, and the New York offices of CNN.

Dobbs asserted, without evidence, that such reports were "fake news." He called the explosive devices, which the FBI said appeared to be pipe bombs, "fake bombs" in a now-deleted tweet. In a follow-up tweet, which he also deleted, Dobbs said the "fake news has just successfully changed the narrative" with coverage of the mail bombs. Dobbs never apologized.

Dobbs' comments about the mail bombs, however, irked some of his Fox colleagues. One senior Fox News employee told CNN on Thursday, "It's people like Dobbs who really ruin it for all the hard working journalists at Fox."

A Fox Business Network spokesperson declined at the time to comment on Dobbs' tweets, and wouldn't say whether they violated the network's standards.

Hope Hicks, chief communications officer for Fox -- the soon-to-be parent company of the Fox Business Network and Fox News -- referred CNN back to the Fox Business Network spokesperson when asked earlier this week whether the Murdoch family had any comment about Dobbs' rhetoric. Hicks did not respond to an email on Sunday about the latest controversy involving Dobbs.

The Washington Speakers Bureau, where Dobbs is billed as a "financial news legend" and a speaker available for booking, has also ignored repeated requests for comment from CNN Business on whether Dobb's rhetoric is in line with its company's values.

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