How Fox News' "balance" works


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."

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): You're a fair guy. And what's unfair is you got fired over the phone without the chance to even explain yourself. And what's interesting about it is the fact that, you know your contract with NPR was going to be up shortly.


DOOCY: You know, in this calendar year. So they could have just, you know, they could have just let it go -- pay you off, essentially. But instead they did this. Public humiliation. Why?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think they don't want--like me talking to people like you. They don't want me at Fox. And, why don't they want me to engage in conversation with people that I might disagree with? You know what's interesting is that when I'm talking to you guys most of the time if I'm on this couch, I'm offering you guys a liberal position here on Fox. You know, you guys invite me on and say yeah, okay, so what do you think, Juan? Apparently, that kind of standard where you say what does the other person think, or give me a different perspective was threatening to them. And it's particularly threatening that I am willing to talk with people on the other side, whether it be you or Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity, and somehow they think that -- now this is the bizarre part -- I am legitimizing Fox News by my presence, like Fox News wouldn't be a success if I didn't show up on the couch. Crazy. And I think they, you know, they are very self-righteous. And when they talk about journalistic standards, Gretchen, it just drives me crazy. What is the journalistic standard that I violate? You think that the audience can't trust me because I say you know, I had this feeling at the airport? That the audience now thinks that whatever I say is biased?

GRETCHEN CARLSON (CO-HOST): But because Fox News invites you on and because you've been a contributor, that's what we call fair and balanced.

WILLIAMS: Well, I think that's the heart and soul of it, but they don't want this discussion. And increasingly -- you know, I think this is one of the lessons of my life -- I often thought that, you know, it was the right wing that was intolerant and inflexible -- and you start to realize there's an orthodoxy on the left that, "Oh my gosh, he's supposed to fill this box, you know, he's supposed to be a black this or that." And you know what? First of all, Fox is one of the few places where people identify me as the liberal, because I'm not that liberal. But this is -- for them -- if I am not predictable and in a box and controlled -- they said to me in the course of firing me over the phone: "Would you have said this on NPR?" I said, "Of course I would have said it on NPR. It's what I -- it's the experience I had. It's the feeling I had at the airport." I will tell you, my values -- I don't know what their values are now with them attacking me as some kind of crazy person -- but I will tell you my values are: I'll tell you the truth if you ask me a question, and I don't care if it fits the left-wing position or the right-wing position. [Fox & Friends, 10/22/10]

Fox News Channel
Roger Ailes, Juan Williams
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