After New York magazine reported that Fox News president Roger Ailes thinks Sarah Palin is an "idiot," Fox issued a prickly denial. Fox News vice president of programming Bill Shine gave this statement on the matter to The New York Times:
"I know for a fact that Roger Ailes admires and respects Sarah Palin and thinks she is smart. He also believes many members of the left-wing media are extremely terrified and threatened by her. Despite a massive effort to destroy Sarah Palin, she is still on her feet and making a difference in the political world. As for the 'Republican close to Ailes' for which the incorrect Palin quote is attributed, when Roger figures out who that is, I guarantee you he or she will no longer be 'close to Ailes.' "
This quote drew a good deal of attention, given that, as a Fox News contributor, Palin is Ailes' employee. But from a journalistic standpoint, another point in the story is even more noteworthy. New York also reported that Ailes recently "encouraged" Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) to "jump into" the presidential race.
This illustrates a stunning level of political activism from the head of what is purportedly a newsgathering operation. Imagine how conservatives would react if it were reported that Ailes' analogue at ABC News, Ben Sherwood, had pressured a prominent Democrat to challenge Obama in a primary.
Despite the damage this reporting does to the charade about Fox News being "fair and balanced," Fox hasn't seen fit to deny these aspects of New York's article. Media Matters' calls to Fox News for comment were not returned.
If Fox isn't willing to dispute this report, that goes a long way toward settling the matter officially: Fox News isn't news. It's GOP political activism.