Fox News CEO Roger Ailes recently attacked President Obama in an interview with The New Republic, claiming that Obama “likes to divide people into groups ... He's too busy getting the middle class to hate rich people, blacks to hate whites. He is busy trying to get everybody to hate each other.” Yet Ailes has drummed up race-baiting and class divisions throughout his career as a political consultant and head of Fox News.
Ailes suggested race-baiting tactics during his time as a political consultant to high-profile Republican candidates. As an aide to Richard Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign, Ailes reportedly suggested the campaign find a “good, mean, Wallaceite cab-driver” (referring to segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace) to bring up race at televised town hall meetings. He worked as an aide for George H.W. Bush in1988 and reportedly said of their racially divisive strategy against opponent Michael Dukakis: “The only question is whether we depict Willie Horton with a knife in his hand or without it.” Ailes was a media consultant for the 1989 campaign for Rudy Giuliani, whose attacks on opponent David Dinkins -- who would become New York City's first African-American mayor -- were described as having “prey[ed] upon the fears of the Jewish community.”
Ailes' Fox News tenure has been marked by race-baiting and racially charged commentary. Perhaps most infamous is the work of former Fox News host Glenn Beck, who called Obama a “racist” with a “deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.” Fox also relentlessly pushed the phony New Black Panthers scandal. Salon.com's Joan Walsh described Fox's treatment of the story as part of “Fox News's 50-state Southern strategy.”
Fox News under Ailes has frequently promoted its own brand of division when it comes to undocumented immigrants, union members, lower income Americans, and unemployed Americans. For instance, Fox has adopted the narrative that the country is comprised of “makers” and “takers,” a term the network has used to disparage nearly half of Americans who are supposedly mooching off government assistance.