On November 5, 1997, Ted Koppel interviewed Soros for an episode of ABC's Nightline, "The World According to George Soros." It included interviews with other scholars and journalists, like Richard Morais of Forbes who said of Soros: "He's largely treated like a saint in most of the media, and I think that's a very dangerous situation." And Michael Lewis, author of "Liar's Poker," who said: "He will use his money very aggressively to attack what he thinks is bad."
These themes persisted in coverage of Soros throughout the 1990s, but at the time it seemed to resonate more on the left, according to Jesse Walker, author of "The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory" and book editor of Reason magazine. "I first started encountering anti-Soros invective in the 1990s," Walker told Vocativ. "Interestingly, it was coming from the left — people were worried that he was buying up the movement (or, in a less conspiratorial vein, that the possibility of chasing Soros dollars would distort the independent left's activities)."
Walker also noticed that resentment toward Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch followed a similar pattern. The Koch brothers operate Koch Industries, the second-largest privately owned company in the nation, and have used their wealth to fund and influence libertarian and conservative causes. "The first place anti-Koch talk took hold was in certain sectors of the libertarian movement. It was a libertarian activist, Sam Konkin, who coined the word 'Kochtopus.' This was in the late '70s or early '80s, decades before the Koch brothers became designated villains for the left."
Conservatives and Republicans became more wary of Soros in the the late 2000s, thanks in large part to Fox News. In April 2007, Bill O'Reilly opened his show "The O'Reilly Factor" with a nearly 10-minute segment (video here, transcript here) on George Soros, who he describes as "off-the-charts dangerous" and "an extremist who wants open borders, a one-world foreign policy, legalized drugs, euthanasia, and on and on."
"'The Factor' has been investigating far left billionaire George Soros, a man who wants to impose a radical left agenda on America. And under the radar, he is making great progress," O'Reilly opened, before presenting a chart and explaining the complex web of foundations that Soros uses to influence politics. This flow begins with the Open Society Foundation which donates to the Tides Foundation, which funds "a variety of radical hatchet men" like those involved with "vile propaganda outfit Media Matters, which specializes in distorting comments made by politicians, pundits, and media people." O'Reilly explained that Media Matters hands over propaganda to mainstream media, including NBC News, The New York Times, Newsweek, and PBS. Soros also gives money to the Democracy Alliance Group and the Center of American Progress, run by John Podesta, and Move On, which "organizes demonstrations promoting left-wing causes."
"So you can see how powerful this guy Soros has become," O'Reilly said. "He can smear anyone he wants in a variety of ways. His organizations can raise millions for politicians, who will do his bidding. Thus, he can demand that politicians running for office do what he tells them to do."
This segment from a decade ago includes many of the same dog-whistles that make conservative ears perk up today: mainstream media, organized liberal demonstrations, open borders, and Podesta.
O'Reilly then brought on two commenters, radio host Monica Crowley and Phil Kent, a PR consultant and author of the book "Foundations of Betrayal: How the Liberal Super Rich Undermine America."
Kent takes the scary story up a notch. "George Soros is really the Dr. Evil of the whole world of left-wing foundations," Kent said. "In fact, one of his most chilling quotes a few years ago was that the main obstacle to a stable and just world is the United States. He really hates this country."
The quote Kent referenced was from Soros' 2006 book "The Age of Fallibility," and it was a critique of George W. Bush's nationalistic foreign policies. Here's the full quote (emphasis ours):
The main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States. This is a harsh — indeed, for me, painful — thing to say, but unfortunately I am convinced it is true. The United States continues to set the agenda for the world in spite of its loss of influence since 9/11, and the Bush administration is setting the wrong agenda.
You should never mention "world order" if you're a politically influential public figure and you don't want to be connected to globalist conspiracy theories. At the heart of many paranoiac ideologies is the firm belief that a small group of elites is trying to build a New World Order, a global governance that could enslave most of humanity. Any time a powerful person mentions a "world order," fringe journalists seize on the comment as proof of the existence of a secretive cabal that wants to rule the planet. In "The Age of Fallibility," Soros mentions "world order" several times. One chapter is even called "What's Wrong with the World Order." It's two chapters after "What's Wrong with America?"
Less than two years later, Glenn Beck joined Fox News and made Soros one of his main targets. In November of 2010, Beck dedicated two episodes to exposing the "puppet master" George Soros. With the aid of three giant chalkboards, a wooden pointer, props, literal marionette puppets, and his signature condescending professorial tone, he explained the twisted web of corruption and deceit that George Soros' "shadow party" (does that sound familiar?) has wound around the American political system. Soros' ultimate goal, Beck explains, is to build "one world government" and then take power.