A new book on Roger Ailes reveals that the Fox News president doesn’t have a lot of nice things to say about some of the country’s current and former leaders. After being given months of “unprecedented” access to the Fox News chief in 2012, author Zev Chafets discovered that Ailes thinks President Barack Obama is “lazy,” Vice President Joe Biden is “dumb as an ashtray” and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is a “prick” and a “sore loser.”
Chafets met regularly with Ailes at the conservative cable news channel’s New York City headquarters, his home in Putnam County, N.Y., and at public and private functions. “In that time I got a closer look at Roger Ailes than any journalist who doesn’t work for him ever has. He is plainspoken, wryly profane, caustic, and above all competitive,” Chafets writes.
An excerpt of “Roger Ailes: Off Camera” was posted online Tuesday by Vanity Fair. The book, which touts itself as an “inside look at the founder and head of Fox News,” is set to be published later this month.
From the excerpt:
One day during the 2012 primary season, Newt Gingrich complained that Fox News’s support for Mitt Romney was responsible for Gingrich’s poor showing. Rick Santorum had made a similar claim when he dropped out of the race. Gingrich and Santorum had been Fox commentators before getting into the race, and Ailes found their complaints self-serving and disloyal. Brian Lewis, his spokesman, asked Ailes for guidance on how to respond to Newt. “Brush him back,” Ailes said. “He’s a sore loser and if he had won he would have been a sore winner.” Lewis nodded.
Ailes was silent for a moment and then added, “Newt’s a prick.”
Lewis then read Ailes a summary of the flap over Democratic operative Hilary Rosen’s comment that Ann Romney, mother of five, had never worked a day in her life. Ailes spun it without hesitation. “Obama’s the one who never worked a day in his life. He never earned a penny that wasn’t public money. How many fund-raisers does he attend every week? How often does he play basketball and golf? I wish I had that kind of time. He’s lazy, but the media won’t report that.” He noticed my arched eyebrows and added, “I didn’t come up with that. Obama said that, to Barbara Walters.” (What Obama said was that he feels a laziness in himself that he attributes to his laid-back upbringing in Hawaii.)
“I like Marco Rubio,” Ailes told a staff meeting of Fox News Latino when talk about the Florida senator being Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential pick was at fever pitch. “But I don’t know about as a vice-presidential candidate. He’s a nice guy, and that role requires kicking the crap out of your opponents.” He paused, thinking about vice presidents he had known. “I have a soft spot for Joe Biden,” he said. “I like him. But he’s dumb as an ashtray.”
—Posted by Tracy Bloom.