FOX News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes will be honored with the $250,000 Bradley Prize for being a “visionary of American journalism” on June 12 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
“Roger Ailes has been a visionary,” declared Michael W. Grebe, President and CEO of the Bradley Foundation, which will award four such prizes this year. “His innovative business-building strategies have revolutionized the uncovering and delivery of news in America.”
Indeed. The Ailes media “revolution” has never been more apparent–or more important–as in the past year, when Fox News has spearheaded the media investigations of two major scandals: the “Fast and Furious” investigation, and the Benghazi debacle and cover-up.
In both cases, Fox and a few other rebel news outfits led the way in uncovering the brutal truth about Obama administration misdeeds, even as the MSM mostly chose either to ignore the scandals or else assist the Obama administration in the whitewashing.
Staying true to this speak-truth-to-power philosophy, Fox News covered the Benghazi tragedy and its scandalous cover-up relentlessly, even as other “news” networks did their best to protect–and not even question–the Obama administration’s initial spin that the U.S. consulate had been attacked after spontaneous protests stemming from a random anti-Islam YouTube video.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) recently highlighted Ailes’s central role in forcing a vigorous inquiry on Benghazi: “Why is it eight months later that finally now it seems that the, quote, mainstream media is taking an interest in what many of us have been — if this thing comes to a full investigation, there will be two people that I think deserve credit. One of them is Senator Lindsey Graham and the other [is] Roger Ailes.”
McCain has it exactly right, and his admiration for Ailes is shared by many millions of Americans.
The Bradley Foundation said the selection for its Prize was “based on nominations solicited from more than 200 prominent individuals across the country and chosen by the Bradley Prizes Selection Committee.”
“Through the Bradley Prizes, we recognize individuals like Roger Ailes whose accomplishments strengthen American institutions, in hopes that others will strive for excellence in their respective fields,” Grebe said. Previous recipients of the award include Ed Meese, Thomas Sowell, Jeb Bush, and the Federalist Society’s founding directors.
In 1996, after making CNBC the most successful business network in history, Ailes convinced News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch to launch an iconoclastic and fearless news channel at a time when the legacy liberal media virtually monopolized the airwaves. The launch of FOX News Channel was accompanied by near-universal mockery and disdain by media elites, but Ailes knew that Americans in the heartland–and even in liberal areas–were fed up not only with biased news coverage, but smug, know-it-all anchors who delivered their slanted coverage with ideological and partisan relish.
When Ailes said, “We report, you decide,” he meant it. He knew that Americans could make up their minds about national issues–if they were presented with all the facts.
From its beginning nearly two decades ago, Ailes vowed his network would cover stories the legacy press ignored. And since 2002, Fox News has shown its initial doubters were wrong as it became America’s leading cable news outlet.
Fox News truly is “The Most Powerful Name In News.” For the last eleven years, Ailes’s network has pummeled its competition and more viewers are trusting the network for breaking news coverage, as was evidenced most recently during the Boston Marathon bombings. And now, of course, millions of truth-seeking Americans will be looking to Fox for more of its fearless let-the-chips-fall-where-they-
Part of the reason for this is Americans believe Fox News holds Americans in power accountable while still never being ashamed to defend the country and its timeless–and still revolutionary–values of private enterprise, equal opportunity and fair play. That ethos is pure Ailes; it is an ethos that was nurtured in his working-class upbringing in the Midwest–Warren, Ohio, to be exact.
Speaking to the University of North Carolina School of Journalism on April 12, 2002, Ailes urged aspiring journalists to pursue the truth, but also to remember their patriotic duty as Americans. In addition, he reminded them that the critics of America should also be open to scrutiny–and to criticism:
Your generation will determine whether the American way of life can continue. Don’t waiver in telling the truth and don’t fight for a tie. There’s a disadvantage to winning. People will criticize you. They will particularly hate you if you beat them. Many of them are just pathetic people who think every kid should get the trophy. Some of them are actually untalented, vicious people who won’t be able to stand the fact that you’re more talented or work harder than they do and make more money. So, they’ll say terrible things about you. You must be able to withstand that.
Now, you’re going to hear your country criticized. As a journalist, you must question your country. But you must also question the criticism of the country, which is rarely done. We live in a country where we believe individuals are innocent until proven guilty, but often don’t give that same time to our country. So, we shouldn’t get up every morning saying, “What did our country do wrong?” We should question the country and question the questioning of the country because after 235 years, it’s small, it’s young, it needs protection. Who better to protect it to the ones who actually enjoy the freedoms provided by this country?
Of course, America can be improved. Of course, we make terrible mistakes from time to time. But in the end, the United States has fed more and freed more people than all of the other countries put together. So, you must take that into account.
We have a historic, heroic history. Don’t let people attack your traditional values if you have them, or your institutions that have been a beacon of light. American exceptionalism does exist because we believe in freedom. And you can tell this is a great country because everybody’s trying to get in and nobody’s trying to get out.
Speaking at his alma mater, Ohio University, in 2012, Ailes, after saying he may be better suited to run a news organization because he does not have a fancy journalism degree, discussed the important responsibilities journalists have and how “dangerous” it can be when those with the “power of the pen and camera” “think they know best”:
And I believe journalists have tremendous responsibilities. Their job is not to invent and support positions but be skeptical of everyone. A few things I try to tell my journalists are that nobody is wrong all the time, not even Americans. You should treat capitalism as fairly as other philosophies because it’s how we get paid. Keep an open mind from the time you file your story you still don’t know all the facts. Be a big enough person to include the point of view you don’t agree with if it’s true. Our job is not to be a lap dog or an attack dog, but to be a watch dog. And as a matter of fact, the press was set up to keep an eye on government because our founders all came from countries where the government got a little too aggressive. Professional detachment from a story is different from you actually being God, because there is a tendency for people with power of the pen and camera or anything else to think they know best. That is a very dangerous problem.
By understanding the views of ordinary Americans–understanding both their instinctive patriotism and their natural skepticism of overweening ideology–Ailes resolved to serve the folks, as opposed to the New York-D.C.-Boston elite. Thus Ailes has turned a fledgling news network into a behemoth whose stand-alone value has been estimated at $12 billion.
That’s an American success story that Americans can appreciate. Yet even now, Fox retains a scrappy underdog ethos of a startup and thus has forced the legacy press to cover important stories it otherwise may have not. As a result, Fox has been a winner, Fox fans have been winners, but most of all, the United States of America has been a winner, because our republic is immeasurably strengthened when power is held accountable.
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation was founded in 1985 and “is devoted to strengthening American democratic capitalism and the institutions, principles and values that sustain and nurture it,” the foundation’s programs “support limited, competent government; a dynamic marketplace for economic, cultural activity; and a vigorous defense, at home and abroad, of American ideas and institutions.” In addition to Ailes, the other three recipients of the Bradely Prize this year are former US Solicitor General Paul Clement, former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, and National Affairs founding editor Yuval Levin.
The Foundation emphasizes and recognizes that “responsible self-government depends on enlightened citizens and informed public opinion.”