The Courage of Roger Ailes: One Man Faces Down the Mainstream Media, and Worse

It’s amazing the attacks that Roger Ailes has suffered from the MSM, which is not only liberal, not only snarky, but also, sometimes, downright nasty.

For example, on June 5, Politico media blogger Dylan Byers ran what can only be described as a mean-spirited blog post laughably titled: “Roger Ailes is absolutely terrified.”

In other words, we’re supposed to think that Ailes, the famously combative founder and CEO of Fox News--you know, the guy who created Fox from scratch, crushed his cable news competition in the ratings, stood up to presidents in both parties, letting the chips fall where they may--is, in fact, some sort of coward. In fact, as we shall see, it’s Byers who’s acting the coward, making changes in his copy without adequately notifying readers—it’s called a “stealth correction” in online circles. We’ll get to that in a moment…

But first, what’s Ailes supposed to be terrified of? And how does Byers know--or “know”--this? Well, he got all the information for his blog post from retread journalist Jonathan Alter and his new book, which even the liberal New York Times panned.

Yet even if he didn’t write a very good book, Alter did something smart from a marketing point of view: in an attempt to create “news,” he shrewdly sprinkled his many pages of Obama-philia with a few digs at Ailes, and that sprinkling was good enough for a loyal MSM-er such as Byers to devote a whole post to Alter’s anti-Ailes digs. The summation was that Ailes is afraid of terrorists, of the government, even of harmless strangers whom he happens to see in the halls of the Fox headquarters in New York City.

Alter asserts all these things, even though one of his earlier claims about Ailes was disproven two months ago, and most of the rest were first disproven Wednesday here at Breitbart News. (The other Alter claims were either simple restatements, first reported elsewhere, that he trumped up to make them sound alarming. For example, he recycled the news, first reported in 2011, that Ailes had a “secret” lunch with Chris Christie and Rush Limbaugh--big deal.)

Yet even so, Byers was happy to attach his own credibility to Alter’s “reporting”; in his post, Byers referred to “surprising facts about the Fox News chief that, taken together, make him out to appear extraordinarily paranoid.” Once again, that’s Byers talking, vouchsafing for the discredited Alter. 

But first, a little background on Ailes--and then, you the reader can decide if you think he has courage. He was born with hemophilia, the disease that keeps blood from clotting. As a result, the normal childhood scrapes and scratches were, for him, all potentially life-threatening. Growing up in a blue-collar family, Roger spent months, cumulatively, in hospitals, his legs sometimes swollen unrecognizably by internal bleeding. 

Yet even so, he joined the Boy Scouts and then worked summers digging ditches in Trumbull County, OH--rough work. And as a freshman at Ohio University, he sought to join the Air Force ROTC. He was rejected, and when he was rejected, he appealed, and was rejected again.

In the 60s, he went to work in television production--live television. That is, dealing with all the pressures of intense studio work, then putting that show on the air, live for the audience to see it fly or fail. 

In 1967, as a twenty-something, he politely but boldly challenged the wisdom of a former vice president, Richard Nixon, and then went to work on the Nixon campaign as the TV adviser.

On the Sunday before Election Day, 1968, Ailes went skydiving in California and, on impact, badly twisted his ankle. Okay, that’s not the smartest thing he ever did, but it was not the action of a shrinking violet. Even so, amidst all the pain, he continued to produce live television for Nixon, right through the president-elect’s victory announcement in Los Angeles. 

For the next three decades, Ailes did just about everything in the worlds of politics and showbiz: he directed the live television coverage of Nixon in the White House as the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon in 1969; he was there to help coach Ronald Reagan for the 1984 debates; he managed all the media for George H. W. Bush in 1988; he also consulted on scores of Congressional and statewide campaigns for Republican candidates. 

Moreover, he produced several theatrical productions in Manhattan, on and off Broadway, and he did a comedy-variety show in LA. He even directed and produced a wildlife documentary with Robert F. Kennedy in Africa. As head of CNBC in the mid-90s, he turned that once-lowly channel into a business-and-talk juggernaut, although it faltered after Ailes left.

In fact, Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of General Electric--parent company of CNBC--said that one of his subordinates’ decision to hire Ailes was the “smartest thing” that the subordinate had ever done. And when Ailes left CNBC in early 1996 to take the risk of starting Fox, Welch prophesied, “We’ll rue the day we let Roger and Rupert team up.”

So then, of course, the epic of Fox News. In the week after 9-11, Ailes never left his Manhattan office, except to deliver pep talks in the news room. That’s when America bonded with Fox; as Brit Hume always said, FNC was “fair, balanced--and unafraid.” Today, even its bitter enemies will have to concede that, yes, Fox is “the most powerful name in news.” Of course it is--and that’s why they hate it so much. 

We might also ask: If Ailes were a crazy person, as Alter suggests, how could this lunacy have stayed secret for so long? Alter has spent his career covering politics in DC; how did he suddenly get to be so massively plugged in to Ailes and Fox in NYC? 

Yet, this is the biography of a man who is “absolutely terrified,” according to Dylan Byers.

Oh, and by the way, he did all this--blazed a trail through politics, media, even theater--as an unflinching and unabashed conservative. As Ailes said recently to a Breitbart News source:

Fifty years ago, when I got into TV, all the local news directors were Republicans. Yet over the course of the 60s and 70s, they were all pushed out, to make room for liberals. They were out the door, soon selling shoes or real estate--anything but doing the news. That was the big change in local TV, as Main Street values were shoved aside by trendy Park Avenue and Beverly Hills values. It’s a shame, but it happened.

But I never changed. I know I lost jobs and gigs that I might have gotten if I had gone along with the left--or even if I had just kept my damn mouth shut--but I couldn’t do it. I would never just sit there quietly while someone in a room trashed the troops, or the flag, or traditional American values. Just couldn’t do it.

Now in his 70s, Ailes is exactly where he belongs--running Fox. Running Fox, we might add, and defending not only his reporters, but also America itself, from government overreach, and being the lone television network willing to stand up to the Obama Administration. 

Finally, we come to a concluding point on Dylan Byers, who happily regurgitated Alter’s falsehoods. As noted, on June 5, he posted the item, “Roger Ailes is absolutely terrified.” But then something interesting happened: Sometime on June 6, Byers changed the headline to “Roger Ailes according to Jonathan Alter.” In other words, Byers softened the headline considerably, perhaps because the original header was too much, even for the liberals at Politico; too many people know the truth about Ailes. 

Indeed, on the night of June 6, Ailes himself mixed it up with Politico, refuting Alter’s allegations. Breitbart News readers will note the close similarity between our account, published on June 5, and Politico’s account, published a day later.

But unfortunately for Byers--and fortunately for the truth--although he changed the obnoxious headline of his post, he did not delete the tease of that headline in his tweet on June 5. Here it is, below. Take a look; there are the words, “absolutely terrified”:

Again, these are words of a young media blogger describing the President and CEO of Fox News Channel.

But wait, Byers neglected to change the URL for the post, which still claims that Ailes is “absolutely terrified”:

http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2013/06/roger-ailes-is-absolutely-terrified-165498.html

So now, Byers had a problem. When a blogger makes changes in a post, it’s a matter of protocol that he or she alerts the reader that something has changed, that it’s been updated. Particularly if you are a media blogger and your headline called out, by name, one of the most powerful people in media on planet Earth. So if Byers was going to change the headline, he should have noted it in the post. Byers did make a note, but he did it in a way that made Alter, not him, look bad. 

How so? Byers added a note at the bottom, declaring that yes, he had made changes in the post, but that the changes were made to acknowledge that “many of the facts about Ailes” were not from Alter at all, but from a 2011 profile of Ailes in the lefty Rolling Stone

In so doing, Byers made his original “source” look bad, because now Alter looked like someone who had lifted his “reporting” from somewhere else, without attribution--which, of course, is exactly what Alter did. And the “facts” of the Rolling Stone piece, to be sure, were no more factual two years ago than they are today, as repeated shamelessly in Alter’s book. But Byers doesn’t seem worried about any of that. 

What’s more, Byers’s non-correction doesn’t mention that he changed the headline from the ridiculous “Roger Ailes is absolutely terrified” to the innocuous “Roger Ailes according to Jonathan Alter.”

Byers got himself off the hook by writing that he had overhauled his post so as to give credit to Rolling Stone and avoided admitting that he had changed the title. In other words, Byers ditched the title of his post--which might have been embarrassing and troublesome, even to him--and managed, in effect, to blame Alter for the change.

That was kind of slick on Byers’ part, wasn’t it? Well, actually, no, because Byers neglected to effectively cover his tracks by deleting the tweet (see above) or changing the url.

This correction also begs the question, who is responsible for the headline change anyway? All signs point to Politico’s management team, who launched an exclusive interview with Ailes on their website last night.

And Byers still managed to blame Alter in the correction, which fell just short of suggesting the Bloomberg writer is a plagiarist.

Indeed, even liberals who think Alter is doing good work by trashing Ailes had to cringe when Don Imus read aloud, on his Fox Business Network show, an e-mail that Alter had sent Imus, seeking publicity for his book. As Mediaite related, Imus read aloud Alter’s words, which add new, uh, flavor to the idea of brown-nosing:

“I’m sorry I haven’t been a better friend and just come crawling up to your ass when I need something, but I do need something: You putting me on your air to hawk my new book.” 

Even by Washington’s exacting standards of expert groveling and self-abasement in pursuit of a goal, Alter’s offer to “come crawling up your ass” has to rate in the gold-medal category. 

Meanwhile, high above all this low-lifeing, there’s Roger Ailes, who epitomizes not only the “powerful” in Fox, but also the “unafraid.” He’s at the rampart of freedom, standing watch for American tradition and liberty--and all the clever liberal hitmen in DC can’t do a damn thing about it. 


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