The head of Fox News, the prodigiously jowly former Richard Nixon tub-thumper Roger Ailes, gave an interview to Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast earlier this week. It is instructive to read what Ailes said, because his comments are full of lies of every sort–simple untruths, hyperbolic overstatement, nasty misinterpretation. They show what a low, mean, miserable man he is, and they are indicative of the organization he runs.
Ailes said that President Obama‘s trip to the G20 was a failure. “He had to be told by the French and the Germans that his socialism was too far left for them to deal with.” True, Obama’s trip could be called a failure, but Germany and France’s objections had nothing to do with “socialism”; Germany objected to the Fed’s proposed quantitative easement, which is aimed to lower US unemployment by cheapening the dollar and stimulating US exports, which might very well then cause Germany’s large trade surpluses to diminish.
Ailes says Obama “has a different belief system than most Americans.” Of course, this is part of the right’s ongoing offensive to make it seem as though Obama is suspiciously different from most Americans. This is, of course, a strange thing to say about a man who was the choice of most voters as recently as 2008–the choice of many, many more voters than Fox News has viewers, it should be pointed out. Obama may well have different beliefs and policies and positions than most Americans, but a different belief system? Nonsense. Start with the way he conducts his personal life. Look at this marriage and the way he’s raising his children. That is as sure an indication of his values as anything.
Ailes on the pro-Obama sympathies of the media.: “He’s had 3,000 press secretaries since he got into office.” This whole liberal media line of argument is becoming exhausted. It’s true that a lot of reporters and editors have a liberal bias. But the right wing has been harping on this since Spiro Agnew gave his “nattering nabobs of negativism” speech, and the media has made efforts to address the imbalance. Conservatives are well-represented on the Sunday morning talk shows and on the op-ed pages of the newspapers. There are conservative intellectual publications. CNBC is politically conservative. There is no in-house liberal with his own show on Fox that compares to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. This whole canard about the liberal bias of the media has become part of the right wing plutocrat’s perpetual whine of victimization.
Ailes on George W. Bush: “This poor guy, sitting down on his ranch clearing brush, gained a lot of respect for keeping his mouth shut. I literally never heard an Obama speech that didn’t blame Bush.” Literally? If that’s literally the case, then Ailes did not listen to Obama’s race speech, or to his inaugural address.
Ailes on Fox: “We are interested in the truth. We’re interested in two points of view; most networks aren’t.” Fox is interested in the truth the way the Harlem Globetrotters are interested in getting a good game from the Washington Generals.
Ailes on Jon Stewart: “He hates conservative views. He hates conservative thoughts. He hates conservative verbiage. He hates conservatives.” Hate is kind of a strong word. I bet a lot of them don’t do more than make his skin crawl.
Ailes on NPR: “They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view.” The left wing of Nazism? Roger outdoes himself, managed to get two negative code words into the same phrase. (Ailes soon apologized to the Anti-Defamation League for describing NPR brass as “Nazis.” He wrote: “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.” NPR said, “We are disappointed that Mr. Ailes directed his apology only to the ADL.”)
Ironically, in one of his remarks about Stewart, Ailes comes very close to revealing a truth about himself: “He’s crazy. If [the debate] wasn’t polarized, he couldn’t make a living. He makes a living by attacking conservatives and stirring up a liberal base against it. He loves polarization. He depends on it. If liberals and conservatives are all getting along, how good would that show be? It’d be a bomb.”
It’s all just a show. Ailes’ biggest lie is that he calls himself a news executive. He’s really the same guy who once produced The Mike Douglas Show for KYW-TV in Philadelphia back in the sixties, chasing ratings and an audience share.