October 5, 2011

Associated Press
It was in February 1996 that Roger Ailes began creating an all-news network to challenge CNN and upstart MSNBC. “It was a risky move,” the Fox News chief tells Frazier Moore. “I realized at my age that if I screwed up, or it didn’t work, I’d probably never work again. You just don’t go out when you’re over 55 years of age, have a colossal failure and expect to find work in your field again.” Fifteen years ago this Friday — on Oct. 7, 1996 — Fox News Channel signed on, and little more than five years later, it topped rival CNN in viewership for a full month, reports Moore. Some highlights from his interview with the 71-year-old Ailes:

Why Fox News Channel has won against its rivals for a decade
“The consistency of our product. I think we do better television than the other guys, and no matter how we do it, they don’t seem to catch up. We seem to out-invent them and think ahead of them, and have better story ideas, better graphics, better on-air talent. We just are better television producers.”

What the passing years have taught him
“I don’t rise to the occasion when there’s no occasion. When there is an occasion, I will do what I have to do, and I will win. Is that mellowing? I tend to see it more as picking my battles a little better than I used to. That’s probably the best thing I’ve learned: to save it for when you need it, because when you need it, you have to win.”

His thoughts on renewing his contract, which runs out in June of 2013.
“The bad news, is, I just went to my doctor and he said, ‘Other than arthritis, your chart reads like a 40-year-old’s. You’re old, you’re fat and you’re ugly, but you’re not going to die from any of those things immediately.’ So if I still feel like this and somebody offers me a job in June of ’13, I may just take it.”

About a rival anchor
“Wolf Blitzer is an excellent reporter, but he’s not a star.” With the format of the CNN show calling for Blitzer to highlight visuals on the “news wall” behind him, “he spends half of his time with his back to the camera. I like Wolf. I think he’s a good journalist. But I get offended that his back is to the camera.”

About one of his talkers
“I hired Sarah Palin because she was hot and got ratings.”

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
From 1999 to 2011, Jim Romenesko maintained the Romenesko page for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based non-profit school for journalists. Poynter hired him in August…
Jim Romenesko

More News

Back to News


Comments are closed.