Media Guru

An Interview with Roger Ailes, Chairman and Chief Executive Offi cer, Fox Channel, and Chairman,

EDITORS’ NOTE Roger Ailes began COMPANY BRIEF Channel populist, but those hosts don’t do news shows – his television career as Property (www.foxnews.com; FNC) is a 24-hour they do talk/opinion shows. Assistant, Producer, and Executive all-encompassing news service ded- So we have and O’Reilly, but our Producer for KYW-TV on The icated to delivering breaking news as news coverage – which is all day long and in prime Mike Douglas Show. In 1969, he well as political and business news. time and on weekends – is essentially nobody’s founded Ailes Communications, FNC is a top fi ve cable network and has point of view and there is no story we won’t cover. Inc., in and consulted for been the most watched news channel Will the networks be able to compete various businesses and politicians. in the country for 10 years. According and what must they do to remain relevant? He also tried his hand in theater, to Public Policy Polling, it is the most Today, a lot of younger people are getting producing and directing television trusted and objective television news news from the Internet – the digital side and specials on Robert Kennedy and a source in the country. Owned by News even social media; some young people think host of other luminaries. Ailes Corp., FNC is available in more than they get from . served as a political consultant for Roger Ailes 90 million homes and dominates In the cable media world, has many candidates during the 1960s, the cable news landscape, routinely shifted: it’s no longer 7 to 10 in the evening. We ‘70s, and ‘80s with his fi rst job as Media Advisor notching the top 10 programs in the genre. put up a show at 5 PM, which is essentially the for the Nixon campaign in 1968. He was a con- worst time period because people aren’t typi- sultant to in the latter stages of What was your vision for Fox News Channel cally in front of the TV, and our ratings for that the 1984 campaign and later aided with be- and has it evolved as you expected? show almost rival Bill O’Reilly’s show, which hind-the-scenes speechwriting and coaching There were surprises along the road, but has been number one for 12 years. for both President and Mrs. Bush at the GOP in the beginning, I believed there was a huge So if you put something up, and it is interest- Convention in Houston. In 1984, Ailes helped news audience in America that was being un- ing and objective, people will fi nd it and watch it. produce a television special, Television and derserved. National surveys showed the same Most of the sitcoms the networks do aren’t the Presidency. In 1988, he wrote a book with thing: there was only a single point of view being relevant to most people. long-time aide Jon Kraushar called You Are the presented. How does one remain optimistic when Message: Secrets of the Master Communicators. We feel that alternative points of view are you consider the challenges in Washington? In 1991, Ailes convinced a syndicator to bring extremely important and we needed to continue If the standards of business were applied from radio to television and he to offer just that –all sides of the political spec- to politics, probably 80 percent of the politicians became of that late-night trum. We looked to be fair and balanced but to would be fi red or would quit because they don’t show. In 1993, he became President of the ca- open it up to other points of view. have staying power. ble channel CNBC and began planning an- We have never turned down a point of There is a tremendous lack of guts and a other NBC cable channel, America’s Talking. view at Fox News – I have 23 left-wing con- lot of manipulation going on in Washington. Ailes also hosted his own nightly show, Straight tributors and just as many right-wing contrib- I’m optimistic because George Washington Forward, an hour-long . He left the net- utors. We are open to as many views as are created this country from nothing. But he had work in February 1996 and was hired by Rupert out there. This is important, especially with leadership – he made decisions, he lost battles, Murdoch to create Fox News Channel for News young people, because this group is disillu- he regrouped. He did things that people would Corporation. Ailes was named Chairman of the sioned and is looking for a new direction for not think of doing. This attitude gets things Fox Television Stations Group in 2005 and he the country. done. All progress is made by unreasonable signed a new deal in 2012 that keeps him at the The audience has responded – we tied people. network for another four years through 2016, CNN in fi ve years and we moved ahead in the How critical is it going forward that at which time he will have served as head of sixth year. We have been number one for close New York’s new mayor engages the busi- Fox News Channel for 20 years. In addition to to 12 years in cable news. We’re always the ness community? heading Fox News and chairing Fox Television number three, four, or fi ve cable network out of Without respect for business and knowl- Stations, Ailes also chairs Twentieth Television, all of the cable networks. edge of business, the city will fail. Business has MyNetworkTV, and Network. In Our competitors, MSNBC and CNN, are not to be the underpinning of a great city. 2008, Ailes bought a local newspaper in Cold in the top 30. The top 10 cities in terms of poverty in this Spring, New York – Putnam County News and So we have found an audience and that country are all one-party cities and they all lack Recorder – which is published by his wife, Beth. is what I envisioned when it started. Our goal an understanding of business. He also purchased The Putnam County Courier was to have no story that we would not cover. So if you want poverty, then ignore business. in 2009. In 1962, Ailes received a bachelor’s Does the television audience recognize Will you ever slow down? degree from , where he ma- that you are providing a broad range of Yes. But I think America is in the fi ght of its jored in radio and television. Since 1994 he opinions? life, and Fox News is making a contribution to has funded scholarships for Ohio University No. The people who criticize us are largely the media and forcing people to look at all sto- students via the school’s telecommunications the people we’re beating. They say that having ries. Because we are in that fi ght, and because I programs. and Bill O’Reilly is what makes us can stay in it, I will continue to do it.• 106 LEADERS POSTED WITH PERMISSION. COPYRIGHT © 2013 LEADERS MAGAZINE, INC. VOLUME 36, NUMBER 4