Under pressure of criticism, FOX's Roger Ailes lashed out


Responding to criticism of FOX News Channel by Los Angeles Times editor John S. Carroll, FOX News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes took to the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal on June 2, denouncing Carroll's "elite, arrogant, condescending, self-serving, self-righteous, biased and wrong-headed view of Americans." This story is also featured by The Drudge Report and by the Poynter Institute's senior online reporter Jim Romenesko.

In calling for Carroll to apologize to "the fine journalists at the Fox News Channel," Ailes charged, "He treated FOX News Channel worse in his newspaper than he treated the terrorists who recently beheaded an American." Ailes also branded Carroll's criticism "pathetic" and a "cheap, old trick used by weak writers and thinkers."

Ailes's outburst seemed only to confirm Carroll's description of him. "It is the netherworld of attack politics that gave us Roger Ailes, the architect of Fox News," Carroll had said in a May 6 ethics lecture, titled "The Wolf in Reporter's Clothing: The Rise of Pseudo-Journalism in America." Carroll continued, "Having spent much of his career smearing politicians, he [Roger Ailes] now refers to himself as a journalist, but his bag of tricks remains the same."

"Mr. Carroll cites not a single example of what he calls 'pseudojournalism' from our actual news coverage," Ailes maintained. (Media Matters for America has uncovered one.)

Ailes claimed that Carroll "deliberately confused our highly rated news analysis and opinion shows like Bill O'Reilly with our hard news coverage." Yet Carroll had criticized O'Reilly not for his "analysis" or "opinion" but for misstating facts about the Los Angeles Times in the wake of that newspaper's reports on the character of then-gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger:

On Fox News, the Bill O'Reilly program embarked on a campaign to convince its audience that the Los Angeles Times was an unethical outfit that attacked only Republicans and gave Democrats a free ride.

As evidence, O'Reilly said that the paper had overlooked Bill Clinton's misbehavior in Arkansas. Where, he asked, was the L.A. Times on the so-called Troopergate story? Why hadn't it sent reporters to Arkansas? How could it justify an investigation of Schwarzenegger's misbehavior with women and not Clinton's?

I wasn't employed in Los Angeles at the time of Troopergate, but I do have a computer, so, unlike Fox News, I was able to learn that the Los Angeles Times actually was in Arkansas. It sent its best reporters there, and it sent them in force. At one point, it had nine reporters in Little Rock. And when two of them wrote the first Troopergate story to appear in any newspaper, they made the L.A. Times the leader on that subject. Not a leader, but the leader. Their story would be cited frequently by [sic] as other newspapers tried to catch up.

On the May 19 edition of FOX News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly conceded that he got his facts wrong: "I did make a mistake by underestimating The L.A. Times' reportage of the Clinton women's scandal in Arkansas."

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