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Ear to the Ground

Fox News President Offered Bush Administration ‘Off The Record Help’

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Posted on Nov 1, 2012
Screenshot via YouTube

Roger Ailes, president of Fox News.

A handwritten note from Fox News President Roger Ailes to George W. Bush’s secretary of state in 2005 reveals that the man who runs the cable news channel that touts itself as “fair and balanced” offered to help the administration.

The note from Ailes, which was sent to Condoleezza Rice shortly after she assumed the office, was obtained by Gawker via a Freedom of Information Act request. It reads in full:

 

  Madam Secretary:

  Great first month. You handled hearing beautifully. If I can be of help off the record—just call.

  Warm Regards,

  Roger

In response, Rice’s office sent what appears to be a generic form letter, thanking Ailes for his “kind note of congratulations.”

A Fox News spokeswoman on Thursday defended Ailes’ letter by arguing that he never actually mentioned the Bush administration, that the offer was a “personal media-related one” and that Rice never took him up on it (as if Fox News didn’t help the Bush administration enough already). The spokeswoman added: “As the head of a news organization, Roger speaks to powerful people from the left and the right all the time—if every other news chief wants to release their off-the-record correspondence and conversations, Roger will too.”

Surely then, Ailes must have sent a similar letter to current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, offering the same “personal media-related” and “off-the-record help.” Don’t bet on it.

As John Cook, the Gawker reporter who uncovered the letters, noted:

It goes without saying, but: Please just imagine for a moment how Fox News would cover the publication of a private note from the editor of the New York Times to an Obama administration official offering “help off the record.”

Here’s guessing “Fox & Friends” would have a field day.

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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