There were a lot of people who spoke, on the record and off, about Fox News honcho Roger Ailes in a pair of hard-hitting features published these past few weeks in New York and Rolling Stone. Roger Ailes, however, was not one of them--the pugnacious cable news executive declined to participate in both profiles.
But Ailes has taken to the pages of another magazine to push back on the recent storm of coverage that's engulfed him.
As Newsweek's Howard Kurtz puts it in the issue that's on stands today: "When I spoke with him shortly after the publication of two scathing magazine profiles depicting the chairman as power mad, paranoid, and a GOP puppeteer, Ailes was in a strikingly upbeat mood. When the climate is calm, he loves to stir up trouble ... But part of his genius is that when he faces hostile fire, Ailes can turn unexpectedly mellow, the better to make his critics look like the loony ones."
Ailes told Kurtz, for instance, that he'd love to hire Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a paid contributor on his right-leaning cable news juggernaut. He spoke fondly of Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He denied a much re-blogged claim from an anonymous source in the New York piece alleging he thinks Sarah Palin is an "idiot." (On the contrary: "She's so smart she's got the press corps running up the whole East Coast behind her bus.") And he likewise laughed off a nugget from the Rolling Stone take-down, intended to illustrate his alleged paranoia, that the windows in his office are blast resistant.
As for Glenn Beck, who is set to exit Fox News on June 30, Ailes was pretty clear about his feelings toward the outgoing host. "His goals were different from our goals? … I need people focused on a daily television show," he told Kurtz, echoing a similar comment he gave the AP when news of Beck's departure was first announced back in April: "Half of the headlines say he's been canceled. The other half say he quit. We're pretty happy with both of them."
Meanwhile, in a separate piece today, one of the sources in both the New York and Rolling Stone pieces also comes to Ailes' defense.
"Ailes, in fact, is wonderfully charming. If you're outside his circle, he seems forbidding. But inside, he's amusing, seductive, smart--frankly, an irresistible companion," writes Michael Wolff in Adweek, where he is editorial director. (Wolff is perhaps more well-known for his biography of Ailes' boss, Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox News parent company News Corp.) "The articles are right in seeing Ailes in a losing position, but only because there is nothing left to win."