by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A feature in the latest Newsweek professes some shock that Fox News reporters and anchors would grill Republican candidates for president during a debate. (What gives? Isn’t Fox the radical right-wing network?)
Fear not, ye haters of the most popular cable television news outlet. Roger Ailes is still around to make your blood boil.
The 71-year-old Ailes ambles toward a conference room, where 15 Fox executives await his arrival. Balding and heavyset, he is not an imposing presence; his voice is a low rumble. But when he takes his seat at the head of the table, there is no doubt about who is in charge.
Told that the network has secured an interview with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Ailes mentions that he’s been chatting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—and insists Abbas should be asked about the extent of the U.S. commitment to Israel.
The talk turns to terrorism. Ailes is angry about an Associated Press report that 29 worshipers were killed by a suicide bomber in Baghdad’s largest Sunni mosque during prayers. “How do we know they were worshiping?” he demands. “I think the AP is so far over the hill, they’ve become left wing, antiwar. Gotta watch their copy.”
The topics bounce from CNBC’s weekend ratings (“They have shows about hookers and stuff, don’t they?”) to Fox’s own security (“Listen, one out of every 25 people in America is a psychopath”). Ailes raises a Fox initiative that he cooked up: “Are our producers on board on this ‘Regulation Nation’ stuff? Are they ginned up and ready to go?” Ailes, who claims to be “hands off” in developing the series, later boasts that “no other network will cover that subject … I think regulations are totally out of control,” he adds, with bureaucrats hiring Ph.D.s to “sit in the basement and draw up regulations to try to ruin your life.” It is a message his troops cannot miss.