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Fox News Chief Roger Ailes Thinks Sarah Palin Is 'Stupid': New York Magazine

Submit this storydigg reddit stumble NEW YORK -- Fox News still dominates the cable news ratings, but chairman Roger Ailes wants something more: to help elect the next president.

That's the takeaway from Gabriel Sherman's New York magazine cover story hitting newsstands Monday. Sherman, who's currently writing a book on Fox News for Random House, looks at how Ailes -- who built up a stable of possible presidential contenders after the 2008 election, including Sarah Palin -- isn't so pleased with their chances at beating President Barack Obama in 2012.

Ailes doesn't speak on the record in the article, but several Republicans close to the Fox News chief describe his concerns going into an election year.

"He thinks things are going in a bad direction," another Republican close to Ailes told [Sherman]. "Roger is worried about the future of the country. He thinks the election of Obama is a disaster. He thinks Palin is an idiot. He thinks she's stupid. He helped boost her up. People like Sarah Palin haven't elevated the conservative movement."
Ailes, a television titan, has schooled past presidential candidates on how to handle the media. Before helping Rupert Murdoch launch Fox News in 1996, Ailes worked as a strategist for Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush (whom he still talks to regularly).

But Palin, a former Alaska Governor and current Fox News contributor, hasn't always listened to Ailes' sage advice, as Sherman reported a couple months back. Although Ailes reportedly told Palin to lie low after the Tucson shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), she still went ahead with the infamous "blood libel" video.

So far, Ailes' other presidential hopefuls aren't exactly on the road to the White House.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee recently decided to continue hosting a Saturday night show on the network rather than run again for president. Fox contributor John Bolton, the U.N. ambassador under George W. Bush, hasn't ruled out running but also hasn't built any significant campaign infrastructure.

House speaker Newt Gingrich and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), both of whom recently left Fox News, have already hit some rough patches on the campaign trail.

Gingrich, in a brutal first week rollout, angered the Republican establishment with a statement on "Meet the Press," faced questions about a six-figure jewelry debt, and was even doused with glittery confetti in a straight-to-YouTube clip. And, of course, the statement!

Meanwhile, Santorum ran into trouble this past week by claiming that Senator and former P.O.W. John McCain doesn't understand "enhanced interrogation" techniques like waterboarding (which is widely considered a form of torture).

Another GOP source told Sherman that "every single [Republican] candidate has consulted with Roger." However, Ailes isn't a big huge fan of any of them.

Outside of running himself -- a somewhat ridiculous idea floated in October 2009 -- what's Ailes left to do if he wants to elect a Republican in 2012? Paging Chris Christie!

Sherman reports that Ailes called the New Jersey Governor a few months ago "and encouraged him to jump into the race." That's not the first time they've discussed the idea. Ailes brought Christie and talk show host Rush Limbaugh to his upstate New York home for dinner last summer. Despite Ailes' courtship, Christie isn't running.

In the piece, Sherman also provides a behind-the-scenes look at Ailes' split with Glenn Beck, network disputes over a Palin special, the 2009 feud with the White House, and how Fox News is trying to distance itself from the Tea Party movement -- which it heavily promoted in 2009 -- by now highlighting straight news stars like Bret Baier and Shepard Smith. (Disclosure: I previously worked with Sherman at the New York Observer).

Fox News PR is notoriously aggressive in pushing back against any seemingly negative stories about the network. And even before the New York piece ran online, there was a bit of push-back from the network against the notion that Ailes and Palin are on the outs.

Shortly after New York put out a press release Friday morning promoting the upcoming Fox News story, industry blog TVNewser published a response from Ailes in support of Palin. On Thursday, MSNBC host Chris Matthews blasted her recent appearance on Fox News -- and Ailes for hiring her in the first place -- as "pathetic." Ailes, in his characteristically combative fashion, fired back: "People tell me all the time it was truly pathetic that I was the one who gave Chris Matthews his start on television."

So we'll see how Ailes responds now after a Republican close to him anonymously claims he and Matthews may actually have the same opinion of Palin.



AlterNet / By Mark Howard

Are Roger Ailes' Fox News Freaks Inadvertently Helping Democrats?
Fox is bad for journalism and Democracy. It is bad for America. But is it also bad for the GOP?
May 23, 2011 |

An article just published by New York Magazine is getting attention for its revelations about what Fox CEO Roger Ailes really thinks about his on-air personalities. The article titled “The Elephant in the Green Room,” began with this colorful introduction:

“The circus Roger Ailes created at Fox News made his network $900 million last year. But it may have lost him something more important: the next election.”

Amongst the insider disclosures in the NYMag article are that Ailes thinks Sarah Palin is an idiot who hasn’t helped the conservative movement. Ailes also reportedly worried that Glenn Beck had become bigger than Fox News and was uncontrollable. Both of those assessments are obviously true, but what is unsaid is even more interesting.

Roger Ailes is directly responsible for elevating Palin and Beck to their current celebrity status. He cannot absolve himself of having inflicted those pests on America without admitting how dreadfully wrong he was in the first place by promoting them. Furthermore, he cannot pretend that they are aberrations. The Fox schedule is rife with the very same pestilence (see Why Fox News After Glenn Beck Will Still Suck). It is their trademark and extends far beyond any individual personalities.

The case was made long ago that Fox News is a blight on the media map. It is bad for journalism. It is bad for Democracy. It is bad for America. A so-called “news” network that repeatedly misinforms, even deliberately disinforms, its audience is failing any test of public service embodied by an ethical press.

However, there is a case to be made that Fox News is demonstrably harmful to the Republican Party. In fact, it may be the worst thing to happen to Republicans in decades. That may seem counter-intuitive when discussing Fox News, the acknowledged public relations division of the GOP. Fox has populated its air with right-wing mouthpieces and brazenly partisan advocates for a conservative Republican agenda. They read GOP press releases on the air verbatim as if they were the product of original research. They provide a forum where Republican politicians and pundits can peddle their views unchallenged. So how is this harmful to Republicans?

If all we were witnessing was the emergence of a mainstream conservative network that aspired to advance Republican themes and policies, there would not be much of note here. Most of the conventional media was already center-right before there was a Fox News. But Fox has corralled a stable of the most disreputable, unqualified, extremist, lunatics ever assembled, and is presenting them as experts, analysts, and leaders. These third-rate icons of idiocy are marketed by Fox like any other gag gift (i.e. pet rocks, plastic vomit, Sarah Palin, etc.). So while most Americans have never heard of actual Republican party bosses like House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, posers like Joe the Plumber and Andrew Breitbart have become household names.

Fox News has descended into depths heretofore reserved for fringe characters. They are openly promoting the wackos who believe that President Obama is ineligible to hold office because he isn’t a U.S. citizen. They feature commentaries by secessionists and even those calling for an overthrow of the government and the Constitution. This development was inadvertently addressed by one of Fox’s own

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