The White House and the Anti-Defamation League joined a chorus of voices Tuesday to condemn Fox News and Greg Gutfeld for comments in which he defended the notion there were benefits to slavery by saying “utility” had kept some Jews alive during the Holocaust.
Gutfeld, appearing Monday on “The Five,” was discussing with the show’s roundtable of co-hosts recent guidelines Florida’s Department of Education had instituted in which public middle schools were told to teach students there were personal benefits to slavery such as work skills.
Gutfeld delivered the remarks as a counterpoint after host Jessica Tarlov asked, “Would someone say about the Holocaust, for instance, that there were some benefits for Jews?”
“Did you ever read ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’?” Gutfeld quickly asked. “Vik Frankl talks about how you had to survive in a concentration camp by having skills. You had to be useful. Utility, utility kept you alive!”
The White House reacted Tuesday in a statement to CNN.
“What Fox News allowed to be said on their air yesterday — and has so far failed to condemn — is an obscenity,” Andrew Bates, deputy White House press secretary, said in a statement to the network. “In defending a horrid, dangerous, extreme lie that insults the memory of the millions of Americans who suffered from the evil of enslavement, a Fox News host told another horrid, dangerous and extreme lie that insults the memory of the millions of people who suffered from the evils of the Holocaust.
“Let’s get something straight that the American people understand full well and that is not complicated: there was nothing good about slavery; there was nothing good about the Holocaust. Full stop,” Bates continued. “Americans deserve to be brought together, not torn apart with poison. And they deserve the truth and the freedom to learn, not book bans and lies.”
The Anti-Defamation League, a leading Jewish civil rights group, said Gutfeld’s remarks seemed like “nonsense” in a statement to The Daily Beast.
“It is not clear from Gutfeld’s comments if he is arguing that Jews learned skills in the Holocaust, or that Jews who had skills had a better chance of staying alive,” the ADL said. “The latter is something that is well-documented, while the former is nonsense. That said, many millions of Jews, who, in Gutfeld’s words, had ‘utility,’ were still murdered.”
Fox News staffers who spoke anonymously to The Daily Beast called Gutfeld’s remarks “disgusting,” saying “at any other place, his career would be over.”
The Auschwitz Memorial and Museum was among many others to denounce the remarks.
“We must not overlook the larger picture of the Holocaust,” a lengthy statement said in part (you can read the museum’s entire statement here). “Nazi Germany’s ultimate goal was to exterminate all the people it considered Jews.”
Fox News was not responding Tuesday to requests by media for comment on Gutfeld’s remarks, including from TheWrap.
Watch video of Gutfeld from Monday’s episode of “The Five” below, courtesy Juliet Jeske and @DecodingFoxNews.