Hopefully events from the last couple days, including Fox News' brazen decision to launch a four-minute, anti-Obama campaign attack ad, will convince university administrators that Fox chief Roger Ailes has no business lecturing students and faculty on the finer points of news gathering. And that the Fox chief is perhaps the last person in a position of power who should address students about the craft of journalism as practiced in a thoughtful, fair-minded way.
As we noted recently, Ailes this spring was invited by the University of North Carolina and his alma mater Ohio University to pontificate about Fox News. In both instances Ailes uncorked a string of whoppers that simply highlighted his inability to be factually accurate for any sustained period of time. (It's a trait he closely shares with Fox News.)
Since then, we've learned that at Ohio University Ailes rolled out a startling lie about the New York Times while going on a long rant about what "scum" its reporters are. (Ailes claimed the paper based a front page story that he was about to be indicted on something somebody "overheard in the waiting room of a Barbados airport." That never happened.)
And then yesterday came Fox's shocking entry into the attack ad business, as the cable channel dropped any pretense of being in the news industry and simply embraced its propaganda roots. The stunning move was denounced not only be media observers, but even by a prominent conservative blogger who felt Fox News had crossed over an obvious line between (would-be) journalism and naked partisan campaigning.
Fox News was quick to inform the press that Ailes didn't know about the attack ad in advance. (Why would he have?) But that distinction is irrelevant since it's Ailes who has created a culture of irresponsibility where producers think it's a smart idea to create partisan, campaign-style attack ads.
So, a note to college administrators: Stop inviting Roger Ailes to address students about journalism. That's like asking Rupert Murdoch to lecture about workplace ethics.
It's a really bad idea.
- Roger Ailes