Is Roger Ailes the one protecting Andrew Napolitano at Fox News?

As Media Matters has been detailing for the last week, the silence emanating from Fox News has been deafening regarding the fact that on-air personality Andrew Napolitano has recently expressed support for the 9/11 truther conspiracy, suggesting the United States government is hiding facts about the terrorist attack.

Not only have Fox News flaks refused to comment to Media Matters about Napolitano's controversial 9/11 conspiracy views, but they also refused comment to CNN, which reported on the development. Perhaps even more bizarre has been the fact that since Napolitano endorsed the dark conspiratorial view of the 9/11 attacks, he's subsequently been popping up on scores of different Fox News programs where nobody (nobody) dares to ask him the obvious question: So what's the deal with the truther stuff?

It's so bizarre because I probably don't have to mention what the collective reaction would be from the Fox News team if an on-air personality at MSNBC or CNN, for example, had so publicly endorsed the notion that the government lied to us about what really happened on Sept. 11 at Ground Zero. What would the reaction be? If you took today's “deafening silence” that hovers over Fox News and the Napolitano 9/11 situation and replaced that with “cataclysmic howls,” you wouldn't be far off form the truth.

So the nagging question has been, why the wall of silence?

Why has virtually every major Fox News host given Napolitano a pass when you know his comments likely upset every one of them? (Prior to Napolitano, truthers were considered the worst of the worst at Fox News.) Here's my hunch: Roger Ailes told everyone to back off. The marching orders had to have come from somewhere (there's no chance all the hosts coincidentally forgot to grill Napolitano), and I'm guessing it came from the top.

I think Ailes gave the order because as his recent interview with The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz made clear, Ailes prizes loyalty on the Fox News team. Actually, Ailes demands it [emphasis added]:

There's one criticism that Ailes doesn't want to hear. He admonished the staff after unnamed Fox journalists told me they are worried that the divisive Beck is becoming the face of the network.

“Yeah, shut up,” says Ailes. “You're getting a paycheck. Go on the team or get off the team. Don't run around here badmouthing a colleague.

At Fox News they're waging an epic us-against-the-world battle. Not for the news, but for the future of the country. Or that's how they likely see it. And in that us-against-them war, Ailes stresses loyalty. He doesn't like people on his side raising doubts about their fellow soldiers. At least not publicly, because that would give the enemy comfort knowing there was internal dissension within Fox News.

Incredibly, that oath of loyalty at Fox News, and just as importantly that code of silence, now extends to self-confessed truthers who believe the government is hiding the truth about 9/11.

P.S. It's telling that Fox Business Network's Eric Bolling has been the only Fox News family personality to call out Napolitano for his truther talk. Two key points: First, Bolling did it via Facebook, not Fox. And second, after his initial salvo, Bolling has been completely silent on the matter.