Roger Ailes says he’s not going anywhere, and News Corp.’s Chase Carey concurs
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Reports of Fox News impresario Roger Ailes’ demise, to paraphrase Mark Twain, may be greatly exaggerated.
‘News Corp. is 100% behind Roger Ailes,’ News Corp. President Chase Carey said, adding, ‘we hope and expect he will continue to lead Fox News well into the future.’ Ailes’ current contract runs until 2013.
Although he oversees one of the most important units of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and is coming off a year of huge ratings and profits, Internet speculation about Ailes being a short-timer at the company led Carey to get on the phone with us and douse water on the brush fire. Besides Fox News and Fox Business, Ailes also oversees the Fox TV stations and is one of a handful of News Corp. executives who report directly to Rupert Murdoch.
The rumors about Ailes were fueled by a quote from Matthew Freud, the husband of Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth and a PR guru, whose clients include Fox News rival CNN, according to his website. Freud criticized Ailes and Fox News in an otherwise fairly flattering New York Times story about the executive on Sunday.
“I am by no means alone within the family or the company in being ashamed and sickened by Roger Ailes’s horrendous and sustained disregard of the journalistic standards that News Corporation, its founder and every other global media business aspires to,” Freud said.
We were curious about the brouhaha and reached out to Ailes. He said Freud’s remarks ‘didn’t make sense to me,’ and added that stories that ‘I’m a dead man’ are ‘being manufactured.’ Ailes said he’s sure he has met Freud but, ‘I couldn’t pick him out of a lineup ... most people who have a problem at least walk up to me and talk to me about it.’ (But Ailes has cameras around his office and a driver, so the casual approach might be difficult.)
Company Town has learned that Ailes has communicated with both Elisabeth Murdoch and James Murdoch -- the latter the only Murdoch sibling currently working at the company -- since Freud’s remarks were published. ‘There is nothing to the idea that I have any problem with the children. The entire Murdoch family has been nothing but supportive.’
Being diligent reporters, we called the family company to see what they would have to say. A News Corp. spokeswoman said in a statement that ‘Matthew Freud’s opinions are his own and in no way reflect the views of Rupert Murdoch, who is proud of Roger Ailes and Fox News.’
On occasion, Ailes has bumped up against the Murdoch kin. Several years ago, he clashed with Lachlan Murdoch over the operation of the TV stations. Lachlan Murdoch has since left the company and now runs his own media investment company in Australia.
Although he’s received votes of confidence from both Rupert Murdoch and Chase Carey, Ailes knows that, ultimately, ‘everybody who works here is a hired hand, you go to work, you do your job.’ Even hands like Ailes, who made more than $20 million last year.
As for Freud, Ailes isn’t expecting to bump into him anytime soon. ‘I’m obviously not going to be invited to his house ... with him home anyway.’ Ailes cracked that the PR man, who is a descendant of Sigmund Freud, ‘needs to see a psychiatrist.’
-- Joe Flint