Roger Ailes: Fox News contributor Juan Williams is "a pure liberal."
The onetime Republican strategist is a man of strong opinions, in case that wasn't clear, and he also puts his money where his mouth is. When Juan Williams was fired by National Public Radio for remarks he made on Fox about fearing airplane passengers in Muslim garb, Ailes rushed to award him a three-year, $2 million contract.
"A guy who gets fired and humiliated in the press can lose a lot of confidence," Ailes says. Calling Williams "a pure liberal," Ailes says he wanted to compensate the pundit for his losses because he was "mad" and "I didn't want him to have to call his wife and say we lost money." [The Daily Beast, 11/17/10]
Fox News contributor Juan Williams: "Fox is one of the few places where people identify me as the liberal, because I'm not that liberal."
In a recent interview, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes referred to National Public Radio executives as "Nazis" with a "Nazi attitude," and claimed "[t]hey are the left wing of Nazism." Ailes' employees at Fox News, particularly Glenn Beck, have also used Nazi and Holocaust imagery to smear President Obama, Democrats, and progressive figures.
Remember, NPR's Mara Liasson thinks Fox News is a legitimate news outlet and doesn't see anything wrong with getting paid to appear on its programs.
Keep that in mind as you read this crazy outburst from Fox News chief, Roger Ailes:
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. They don't even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive.
The question for Liasson, an NPR national political correspondent, is a simple one. Yes, she continues to contribute on-air to Fox News despite the fact her appearances seem to run afoul of NPR's ethical standards. But on a more personal level, does Liasson want to continue to be associated with Fox News when its chief is lobbing hateful and demeaning attacks against Liasson's longtime employer?
As I noted last month:
[W]hen the Juan Williams controversy broke, Fox News unleashed a nasty attack campaign against Liasson's employer, spreading all kinds of smears and misinformation about NPR and its staff in an effort to defund and destroy a jewel of public broadcasting. (Fox News' Brit Hume basically called NPR racist for firing Williams.)
Given Fox News' current crusade, I don't see why Liasson, who's been cashing NPR paycheck for two decades, would want to continue to work with a media outlet that now seems bent on discrediting and destroying her employer; and destroying it with a vicious smear campaign. From a professional or personal point of view, why would Liasson want to have anything to do with Fox News and its band of NPR haters who now relentlessly ambush NPR's chief on the street?
With his unhinged interview this week, Ailes has now raised the bar on NPR hating. Will Liasson finally step forward and defend her colleagues from these insane attacks? And if not, should we conclude that Liasson agrees with Ailes' description of NPR as being home to Nazis and government hacks?
In other words, is there anything Fox News can do to demean and destroy NPR that Liasson will publicly object to?
There was never much hope that Fox News -- which has time and again refused to adhere to any standard of propriety -- would make any serious moves to rein in the constant stream of Nazi invocations coming from Glenn Beck. But, as Jewish Funds for Justice CEO Simon Greer wrote in a November 11 op-ed, there was a brief, shining moment back in July when it actually seemed as though Roger Ailes and the rest of the Fox News brass might finally have been forced to take action:
As many of you know, I was the subject of a personal attack by Glenn Beck in May of this year. Responding to an article I wrote supporting a government role to advance the common good, Beck scolded me, declaring that my words "are what led to the death camps in Germany" and that I "as a Jew, should know better." To discuss this and other, similar comments, on July 26, I joined rabbis Steve Gutow and David Ellenson, on behalf of fourteen prominent leaders of national Jewish organizations, in a meeting with Fox News President Roger Ailes and the producer of Glenn Beck's television show, Joel Cheatwood. We spoke for almost an hour about the concerns held by many Jews about Glenn Beck's constant and often inappropriate invocation of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany on the air.
We were assured by Ailes and Cheatwood that they understand our concerns and would explain them to Beck. Two days later, I received a hand-written note from Beck, which stated: "Simon, Joel shared the details of your meeting yesterday. Please know that I understand the sensitivity and sacred nature of this dark chapter in Human History. Thank you for your candor and helpful thoughts."
Of course, we know that Beck broke his promise to respect the sensitivity of the Holocaust and continued on with the Nazi rhetoric unabated. But what of Ailes? He also, as Greer put it, said he was sensitive to the "concerns held by many Jews about Glenn Beck's constant and often inappropriate invocation of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany."
Well, it turns out that was a lie, too:
"A guy who gets fired and humiliated in the press can lose a lot of confidence," Ailes says. Calling [former NPR analyst Juan] Williams "a pure liberal," Ailes says he wanted to compensate the pundit for his losses because he was "mad" and "I didn't want him to have to call his wife and say we lost money."
Then he turned his sights on NPR executives.
"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. They don't even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive."
In the second part of his interview with Howard Kurtz, Fox News chief Roger Ailes set his sights on Jon Stewart, attacking him by claiming, "[h]e openly admits he's sort of an atheist and a socialist." Ailes went on to call Stewart "crazy" and claimed he "hates conservatives."* Ailes believes it is "horseshit" that Stewart's criticism of cable news hinges not on "the ideology of cable channels but the tone of the discourse," because Stewart supposedly "loves polarization." He reportedly added, "If Stewart wants to go after cable hosts for the entertainment value, fine, 'but don't give me a social speech on the steps of the Washington Monument. Don't lapse into non-comedy.'"
Is he serious? Jon Stewart hosted his rally after Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" self-aggrandizing religious event, but it's Stewart's rally that's the problem?
Does he even realize what Stewart's rally was about? It was filled with Stewart "go[ing] after cable hosts" and the discourse on cable news. As the Washington Post reported, Stewart "argued that the rally's target was the caustic level of discourse in Washington, and its nasty echoes on cable television's 24-hour news cycle. Stewart said that noisy debate obscured a reality that he perceived: that everyone throughout the country had found a way to work together." If Stewart "loves polarization," he has a funny way of showing it.
In an interview, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes referred to President Obama's policies as "socialism." Ailes' opinion is shared by his Fox News employees, who regularly characterize President Obama and his administration as "socialist."
In an interview with The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes addressed Keith Olbermann's recent suspension from MSNBC.
As we noted at the time, Fox mostly avoided touching the story (since any report criticizing Olbermann would have made them seem like huge hypocrites). Kurtz reported that "Ailes had sent word to the troops that it wasn't much of a story." Kurtz also quotes Ailes as saying, "It isn't like we don't know the guy supports left-wingers."
Ailes proceeded to explain what Fox's supposed standards are when it comes to political donations:
Ailes says he bars his hard-news journalists from making political contributions, but merely discourages the practice for commentators and talk-show hosts. It can "disrupt the appearance of integrity. You have a responsibility not to make your colleagues look like a horse's ass."
He draws the line at donating to a candidate while also putting that person on the air, as Olbermann did in the case of Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva. But Hannity did the same thing in giving $5,000 to Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and also interviewing her on his program.
Ailes doesn't defend the move, saying only: "I don't think there's any doubt about what Sean Hannity is." Last April, an obviously annoyed Ailes ordered Hannity to cancel a show at a Cincinnati Tea Party event for which the organizers were charging admission.
So, to recap: Ailes discourages opinion hosts and commentators from making political contributions because it might "disrupt the appearance of integrity" and claims that Olbermann's suspension "wasn't much of a story." However, he added that Olbermann's donating to a candidate while also interviewing them on-air was over the line. When Kurtz pointed out that Fox's own Sean Hannity had done the exact same thing, Ailes basically shrugged.
Essentially, Ailes pretended to have standards, was told that one of his primetime hosts had violated those standards, so he discarded them.
In an interview with The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes revealed that he has recommended to Glenn Beck that he not attack Republicans:
What about Beck's other inflammatory outbursts, such as calling Obama a racist? Ailes says that everyone who ad libs for a living makes mistakes. But admits to asking Beck to watch his tone: "He and I have had conversations and lunches where I say, 'What the hell are you doing, man?'...Beck trashes Republicans every night. I've said to him, 'Where the hell are you going to get your audience if you keep this up? You're trashing everyone.'"
Beck, of course, spent the weeks before the 2010 election imploring his audience to vote for Republicans, while praising GOP candidates and savaging Democratic ones. Beck turned one pre-election show into an hour-long telethon and get-out-the-vote drive for three Republicans he hosted, at one point turning to Sen. Jim DeMint and asking, "What kind of help do you need?"
As for Ailes pointing out that criticism of Republicans could lead to Fox News' audience going elsewhere for their news, that's as good an explanation as any for the network's coverage of the Bush administration.
Roger Ailes -- the Fox News boss who apparently talked News Corp. honcho Rupert Murdoch into giving that $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors' Association -- didn't make as much money this year as he did last year.
The Hollywood Reporter's Georg Szalai reports:
[Rupert Murdoch's] salary was unchanged at $8.1 million, while his performance-based bonus dropped to $4.4 million. His total compensation compared with $22.2 million a year earlier. The figures were detailed in a regulatory filing late Tuesday.
Fox News head Roger Ailes made only $14.0 million, down from $22.1 million the year before, even though he had a higher bonus and higher incentive plan compensation. The decline was driven by a dip in the theoretical value of pension and other earnings, after a big pension payout last year.
When Media Matters first highlighted reports that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. -- the parent company of outlets like Fox News, Wall Street Journal and New York Post -- had given a $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors' Association, we noted the possible motivation behind the massive contribution:
According to the [Bloomberg] article, News Corp. is actually the RGA's "biggest corporate donor." Bloomberg suggests that News Corp. has made these donations due to their opposition to "proposed federal rule changes that would weaken the position of its Fox network in negotiations with cable companies," stating that "Governors may have a stake in the issue."
Over on Newser.com's Off The Grid blog, Michael Wolff has even more to say about the possible motivation. He writes (emphasis added):
The notable thing about Rupert Murdoch donating a million bucks to the Republican Governors Association is not that he's risking general censure and opprobrium with this donation, but that he's donating money at all. Murdoch hates the idea of giving away money for nothing. The simple public relations idea of courting goodwill by donating an infinitesimal part of your wealth to a charity of your choice is anathema to Murdoch. He thinks the rich guys who do it are phonies. He's always irritated with his 102-year-old mother for supporting Australian charities—in this regard he rather thinks she's a phony.
Just say a little bird told me … the money doesn't come from Rupert.
The company is claiming the donation has nothing to do with its news side, going so far as to audaciously say, "There is a strict wall between business and editorial." The "corporate side" made the donation, News Corp.'s hapless spokesman insists. But the central advocate for giving the dough has been none other than Fox Chief Roger Ailes. In the past, Ailes has been stymied or neutralized in his quest to have the company put its corporate money where its mouth is, because the No. 2 in the company until last summer, Peter Chernin, was a Democrat.
With Chernin gone, and with Fox News outperforming most other parts of the company, Ailes is the central voice. What's more, Chernin's sidekick, corporate PR-guy Gary Ginsberg, who could be counted on to use the threat of bad press to keep Murdoch from giving in to Ailes' none-too-politic schemes and demands, is also gone—purged, in part, by Ailes.
Howard Dean and Joan Walsh recently called out Fox News, criticizing what they called its "racist" handling of the deceptively edited Shirley Sherrod video clip. Indeed, Fox News and its personalities have a long history of aggressive race-baiting and racially charged commentary.
From the June 21 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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From the April 28 edition of MSNBC's The Ed Show:
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Fox News president Roger Ailes defended his network, claiming he doesn't "do politics," and Fox addresses mistakes "quickly" and provides "fair and balanced report[s]." Yet Fox News regularly engages in political activism, Sean Hannity has not addressed his Cincinnati Tea Party scandal, and the network's "news" division regularly pushes smears, falsehoods, deceptive editing, and GOP talking points.
On Monday, Fox News president Roger Ailes gave a talk at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, FL. In both the talk itself and a follow-up interview with a local news affiliate, Ailes displayed his network's penchant for political activism, disinterest in journalistic ethics, and casual ability to spew outright falsehoods.
Courtesy of ThinkProgress, have a look at Ailes discussing the recent scandal surrounding Sean Hannity's ethically dubious involvement with a Cincinnati Tea Party fundraiser.
As ThinkProgress' Matt Corley pointed out:
In his interview with the local Florida affiliate, Ailes also defended Fox over the recent scandal involving Sean Hannity and the Cincinnati Tea Party. "Sometimes mistakes happen," said Ailes. "If they happen, you go on the air quickly, say this is what happened, this is what we did and keep moving. And that's what we do." According to a ThinkProgress review of his show's transcripts, Hannity has yet to address on-air Fox's decision to cancel his appearance at the Cincinnati Tea Party.
Either Roger Ailes has a different definition of the word "quickly," or Fox News is trying to avoid accountability for their ongoing ethics nightmare. In addition to Hannity's silence, Fox's "media criticism" show, Fox News Watch, has completely ignored the scandal. They've been busy with other stories like media coverage of the new Oprah biography and Roger Ailes' new "ratings high."
Maybe Ailes will bring down the hammer when he gets wind of this terrible oversight? More likely, Fox will just continue to ignore the "go on the air quickly, say this is what happened, this is what we did" step, and skip right to the "keep moving" part of the process. Like usual.