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Roger Ailes' Legacy: Building The GOP's Communications Arm Under The Guise Of A “News” Network

Roger Ailes is reportedly exiting Fox News, the cable network where he has served as CEO since its founding in 1996, amid controversy over his alleged years-long pattern of sexual harassment. Despite its “Fair and Balanced” slogan, Fox News under Ailes' leadership has embraced its role as the communications arm of the Republican Party. During the Obama administration, this partisanship accelerated as the network openly campaigned for Republican candidates, launched the tea party movement, became a farm system for Republican politicians, and served as the stage for Republican presidential primaries, among other egregious ethical issues.

  • Fox News “Took A Hard Right Turn” And Became “The Alamo” After President Obama’s Election

    The Revolving Door Between Fox News And Republican Officials

    Fox News On The Campaign Trail: Employees Fundraised, Stumped For Dozens Of Republican Candidates

    Fox Aggressively Helped Launch And Support The Anti-Obama Tea Party Movement

    The Fox News Primary: The 2012 And 2016 Republican Primaries Played Out On Fox Airwaves

    Fox News Executive Bill Sammon Admitted To Lying On-Air About Obama, Kept Job

    Report Ailes Is Reportedly On His Way Out Due To Fallout From Numerous Sexual Harassment Allegations

    NY Times: “Roger Ailes Is Negotiating His Departure As Chairman Of Fox News.” From a July 19 article:

    Roger Ailes’s tenure as the head of Fox News appears to be over.

    Mr. Ailes and 21st Century Fox, Fox News’s parent company, are in the advanced stages of discussions that would lead to his departure as chairman, Susan Estrich, one of Mr. Ailes’s lawyers, said in an interview on Tuesday.

    The development follows a sexual harassment suit filed July 6 against Mr. Ailes by a former anchor, Gretchen Carlson. The suit prompted 21st Century Fox to conduct an internal review.

    Since then, Mr. Ailes’s future at Fox News has been the subject of intense speculation, which increased on Monday with a report from New York magazine that the executives leading 21st Century Fox — Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan — had determined that Mr. Ailes must go. [The New York Times, 7/19/16]

    Fox News “Took A Hard Right Turn” And Became “The Alamo” After President Obama’s Election

    Roger Ailes On Obama's Election: “I See This As The Alamo.” A March 6, 2009, Los Angeles Times article reported that, in a meeting with former Fox News host Glenn Beck, Ailes declared that his network would challenge the Obama administration, reportedly saying, “I see this as the Alamo.” Bill Shine, Fox News' senior vice president for programming, also reportedly described the network as “the voice of the opposition on some issues” to “this particular group of people in power right now.” [Media Matters, 9/2/12]

    Fox News Executives Admitted To Howard Kurtz That “The Entire Network Took A Hard Right Turn After Obama's Election." In an article for Newsweek, Howard Kurtz, who now works as a media reporter for Fox News, reported, “Fox executives say the entire network took a hard right turn after Obama's election, but, as the Tea Party's popularity fades, is edging back toward the mainstream.” [Newsweek, 9/25/11]

    The Revolving Door Between Fox News And Republican Party

    Numerous Republicans Have Left Fox News To Run For Office. Numerous Fox News personalities have left the network to run for office (several returned to Fox after losing). In many instances, Fox News helped launch those Republicans’ political careers while on the network’s payroll. Those Republicans include: Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Rick Santorum, Liz Cheney, Angela McGlowan, Pete Snyder, Rep. Mark Sanford, and Scott Brown. [Media Matters, 12/22/13; 11/20/14; 8/5/15]

    Numerous Fox News Contributors Were Republican Candidates. Fox News has employed numerous contributors over the years who previously ran for office (successfully and unsuccessfully) as a Republican. They include Herman Cain, Al D'Amato, John LeBoutillier, KT McFarland, Oliver North, Jeanine Pirro, and Allen West. Fox News infamously hired Sarah Palin (twice); she has since left the network. [Media Matters, 4/7/14]

    Fox News Hired Numerous Former Bush Administration Officials. Fox News has hired numerous former Bush administration officials over the years. Current contributors Karl Rove, Dana Perino, Richard Grenell, and John Bolton worked in the Bush administration. Fox News also hired former Bush officials Elaine Chao and Liz Cheney; both are no longer with the network. [Media Matters, 10/26/09, 9/10/12, 6/3/14;, accessed 7/19/16

    Fox News On The Campaign Trail: Employees Fundraised, Stumped For Dozens Of Republican Candidates

    30-Plus Fox Hosts And Contributors Supported GOP In 600-Plus Instances During 2009-2010 Midterms. A Media Matters report found that during the 2009-2010 election cycle, more than 30 Fox News personalities endorsed, raised money, or campaigned for Republican candidates or organizations in more than 600 instances. The Republican support was given to more than 300 different races or party organizations in at least 47 states. [Media Matters, 10/27/10]

    30-Plus Fox Hosts And Contributors Campaigned For Republicans In 2011-2012 Election Cycle. According to a Media Matters review, at least 32 Fox News figures backed Republican efforts in more than 300 instances during the 2011-2012 election cycle. The Fox News personalities campaigned for Republicans nationally and in more than 40 states. [Media Matters, 11/1/12]

    12 Fox News Contributors Took Part In Romney's Campaign. During the 2012 presidential campaign, 12 Fox News contributors took part in Romney's campaign by being featured in a campaign event (such as a fundraiser or speech), advising his campaign, or both. They were: Fred Barnes, John Bolton, Liz Cheney, Alfonse D'Amato, Mike Huckabee, William Kristol, Thomas McInerney, Dennis Miller, Chuck Nash, Walid Phares, Karl Rove, and Pete Snyder. [Media Matters, 11/1/12]

    Fox News Continued Employing Karl Rove Despite Massive Ethical Conflict. Rove has worked for Fox News while serving as a major adviser and fundraiser for American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS. Those organizations have spent hundreds of millions of dollars attempting to elect Republicans over the years. Fox News regularly failed to disclose Rove's involvement in races he discussed on the air. Fox News has also promoted Crossroads content without disclosing Rove’s ties. [Media Matters, 9/2/12; 2/4/14

    Fox Aggressively Helped Launch And Support The Anti-Obama Tea Party Movement

    Tea Party Express Founder: “There Would Not Have Been A Tea Party Without Fox.” A 2011 New York magazine profile on Ailes, headlined, “The Elephant in the Green Room,” featured a quote from Tea Party Express founder Sal Russo proclaiming: “There would not have been a tea party without Fox.” [New York5/22/11]

    Media Matters Report Found Fox Aired At Least 20 Segments And 73 Promos On Tea Party Protests In Lead Up To 2009 Tax Day Protests. In April 2009, Media Matters reported that Fox News had frequently aired segments not only covering tea party protests but encouraging viewers to get involved. An April 15, 2009, study found that from April 6-13, Fox had aired 20 segments and 73 in-show and commercial promotions on the tea party protests scheduled for April 15. [Media Matters, 4/8/09, 4/15/09]

    Fox News Hosts Attended “FNC Tax Day Tea Parties.” In the days leading up to the “Tax Day” protests, Fox repeatedly aired on-screen text describing protests Fox news hosts would be attending as “FNC Tax Day Tea Parties.” [Media Matters, 4/9/09]

    Fox's Tax Day Coverage Promoted Protesters' Cause, Urged Viewer Involvement. Fox News and Fox Business also hyped the tea party during its coverage of the “Tax Day” protests on April 15, 2009. Hosts and guests on several shows promoted the protesters' cause and urged viewers to join the protests and visit tea party websites. [Media Matters, 4/16/09]

    Fox News Hosts Participated In More Than A Dozen Tea Party Events In 2010. Fox News hosts participated in more than a dozen tea party events during the week of April 15, 2010. [Media Matters, 4/15/10]

    For more about Fox News’ heavily involvement in the tea party movement, go here

    The Fox News Primary: The 2012 And 2016 Republican Primaries Played Out On Fox Airwaves


    During 2016 Election, Fox Devoted More Than 200 Hours To Airing Interviews With Republican Primary Candidates. Between May 1, 2015, and May 3, 2016, Fox News devoted 202 hours and 2 minutes to airing 1,481 original and reaired interviews with the 17 Republican candidates. [Media Matters, 5/5/16]

    Network Aired Over 49 Hours Of Interviews With Eventual Nominee Donald Trump, More Than Twice As Much As Any Other Candidate. [Media Matters, 5/5/16]

    Sen. Ted Cruz: Murdoch And Ailes “Have Turned Fox News Into The Donald Trump Network.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the runner-up for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, lamented that “network executives have made a decision to get behind Donald Trump. Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes at Fox News have turned Fox News into the Donald Trump network, 24/7.” [Media Matters, 5/3/16]

    Four 2016 Candidates Worked For Fox News. Rick Santorum, John Kasich, Ben Carson, and Mike Huckabee all worked for the network for various periods of time before launching their bids. [Media Matters, 8/5/15]

    Huckabee: Fox News Job Put Me In “People’s Homes Every Week.” During a visit to Iowa before he launched his presidential bid, Mike Huckabee reportedly credited his platform hosting a show at the network with boosting his name recognition in the crucial primary state of Iowa. [Media Matters, 10/24/15]

    CNN Host Brian Stelter: “There Really Is No Disputing Fox's Power In Influencing The GOP.” Reliable Sources host Stelter noted that Fox News has been a frequent stop for presidential candidates announcing their candidacies. [CNN, Reliable Sources, 4/19/15]

    Politico's Hadas Gold: Fox News Is The “Central Place Where All The Conservatives Are Going ... They Have A Huge Influence.” [CNN, Reliable Sources, 4/19/15]

    LA Times' Doyle McManus: Fox News Is The “Gatekeeper” Of The Republican Primary. McManus, a Times Washington columnist, wrote that Ailes “will decide which candidates can compete in Republican presidential primaries next year” and “One side effect, GOP strategists say, is that during the next two months, those candidates will be even more desperate to boost their name recognition -- by appearing on Fox News.” He added, “Fox won't exactly be judge, jury and executioner, but it will be rule-maker, gatekeeper and moderator.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/30/15]


    Fox News And Fox Business Devoted More Than 77 Hours Of Interview Airtime To 12 Republican Candidates During 2012 Race. [Media Matters, 2/27/12]

    Newt Gingrich And Rick Santorum Worked For Fox Before Launching 2012 Bids. [Media Matters, 2/27/12]

    Santorum Boasted That Fox News Employment Had “Helped Folks Remember Who I Am” As He Prepped Run. [Media Matters, 11/3/10]

    New York Times In 2011: “Fox News Practically Owns And Operates” Republican Primary. The New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley reported in 2011 of Fox News’ coverage of the Republican primary campaign:

    There’s a reason Fox News is beginning to look like a meet-the-candidate pancake breakfast in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

    “You don’t win Iowa in Iowa, you win it on this couch,” is how the Republican commentator Dick Morris put it on “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday. Mr. Morris said that the Republican debates and Fox News had forged a national primary that “imposes itself on Iowa.”

    It’s certainly obvious in Iowa that candidates are investing a lot more time in television interviews than they are on the campaign trail. It’s a safe bet: a recent New York Times/CBS News poll of likely Iowa Republican caucus participants showed that 37 percent said they get most of their information from Fox News, that’s compared with 27 percent who cited broadcast news and a mere 2 percent who said they relied on MSNBC.

    Accordingly, caucus and primary voters have a voice on Fox News. All the networks, broadcast and cable, are closely covering the campaign, but Fox News practically owns and operates it: its viewers are seeing the world through the eyes of a Tea Party activist in Davenport, or a small business leader in Ames — my own private Iowa. [New York Times, 12/10/11]

    Fox News Executive Bill Sammon Admitted To Lying On-Air About Obama, Kept Job

    Bill Sammon: Engaged In “Mischievous Speculation About Whether Barack Obama Really Advocated Socialism” Even Though He “Privately” Thought That Was “Far-Fetched.” During a speech on a high-priced cruise, Fox News executive Sammon admitted he promoted the idea that Barack Obama “really advocated socialism” on Fox News prior to the 2008 election, even though he “privately” found the concept “far-fetched”:

    Speaking in 2009 onboard a pricey Mediterranean cruise sponsored by a right-wing college, Fox Washington managing editor Bill Sammon described his attempts the previous year to link Obama to “socialism” as “mischievous speculation.” Sammon, who is also a Fox News vice president, acknowledged that “privately” he had believed that the socialism allegation was “rather far-fetched.”

    “Last year, candidate Barack Obama stood on a sidewalk in Toledo, Ohio, and first let it slip to Joe the Plumber that he wanted to quote, 'spread the wealth around,' ” said Sammon. “At that time, I have to admit, that I went on TV on Fox News and publicly engaged in what I guess was some rather mischievous speculation about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism, a premise that privately I found rather far-fetched.” [Media Matters,3/29/11]

    Ailes Gave Sammon A Reprieve After “Fox Critics” Reportedly Called For His Firing In Response To Smear. “Fox critics” criticized Sammon when the speech became public and called for his removal as Washington managing editor, but Ailes “reprimanded Sammon but he also let it be known he didn't consider it a firing offense,” according to Ailes' authorized biographer. From Zev Chafets' Roger Ailes: Off Camera:

    In 2009, on a Mediterranean cruise, Bill Sammon regaled his conservative audience with a tale of inside news making. During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama had famously told 'Joe the Plumber,' an Ohio blue-collar voter, that there was nothing wrong with spreading the wealth around. “I have to admit that I went on TV on Fox News and publicly engaged in what I guess was some rather mischievous speculation about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism, a premise that privately I found rather far-fetched,” Sammon boasted. Fox critics learned about the speech and castigated Sammon for this obvious misuse of his position. There were rumblings in the Fox Washington bureau that Sammon should be replaced as bureau chief. Ailes reprimanded Sammon but also let it be known that he didn't consider it a firing offense. [Zev Chafets, Roger Ailes: Off Camera, via Google Books]

    Internal Fox Emails Also Showed Sammon Routinely Exerting Influence To Slant Fox’s News Coverage. A series of emails Sammon sent to the network’s journalists that were leaked to Media Matters revealed a pattern of Sammon urging staffers to tilt Fox’s news coverage in a conservative direction. For example, Sammon sent an email in 2010 during global climate talks that read, in part: “Given the controversy over the veracity of climate change data […] we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.” [Media Matters, 12/15/10, 8/4/15]

    Sammon Is Currently Fox News’ Vice President Of News And Washington Managing Editor. [, accessed 7/19/16]