Ailes’ Parallel Universe Performance On ABC’s This Week

It was truly odd to see Roger Ailes pontificating on ABC this morning, and his fellow panelists must have thought they were on a different show. Ailes, the CEO of Fox News Channel, described the President’s “radical agenda” and how he only won because George Bush didn’t have a positive article written about him for seven years. He described an incident earlier this year between Fox News and the White House over a pool feed as “tramping on the Constitution” (everyone remembers that clause in the Constitution about pool feeds, right?). And he played the conservative victim, equating years of Glenn Beck rhetoric to one random post by a HuffPo blogger (or possibly commenter, it’s not clear):

HUFFINGTON: Well, Roger, it’s not a question of picking a fight. And aren’t you concerned about the language that Glenn Beck is using, which is, after all, inciting the American people? There is a lot of suffering out there, as you know, and when he talks about people being slaughtered, about who is going to be the next in the killing spree…

(CROSSTALK)

AILES: Well, he was talking about Hitler and Stalin slaughtering people. So I think he was probably accurate. Also, I’m a little….

HUFFINGTON: No, no, he was talking about this administration.

AILES: I don’t — I think he speaks English. I don’t know, but I mean, I don’t misinterpret any of his words. He did say one unfortunate thing, which he apologized for, but that happens in live television. So I don’t think it’s — I think if we start going around as the word police in this business, it will be…

HUFFINGTON: It’s not about the word police. It’s about something deeper. It’s about the fact that there is a tradition as the historian Richard Hofstetter said, in American politics, of the paranoid style. And the paranoid style is dangerous when there is real pain out there. I mean, with…

AILES: I agree with you. I read something on your blog that said I looked like J. Edgar Hoover, I had a face like a fist, and I was essentially a malignant tumor…

HUFFINGTON: Well, that’s…

AILES: And I thought — and then it got nasty after that…

HUFFINGTON: … that was never by anybody that we had…

(CROSSTALK)

AILES: Then it really went nasty, and I thought, gee, maybe Arianna ought to cut this out, but…

Paul Krugman also went after Ailes’ network for their time-honored practice of clipping soundbites out of context. Ailes responded that the health care bill was 2,000 pages long:

KRUGMAN: If I can just — you know, what bothers me is not the nasty language. Glenn Beck doesn’t, you know, it’s not — what bothers me is the fact that people are not getting informed, that we are going through major debates on crucial policy issues; the public is not learning about them. And you know, you can say, well, they can read the New York Times, which will tell them what they need to know, but you know, most people don’t. They don’t read it thoroughly. They get — on this health care thing, I’m a little obsessed with it, because it’s a key issue for me. People did not know what was in the plan, and some of that was just poor reporting, some of it was deliberate misinformation. I have here in front of me when President Obama said, you know, why — he said rhetorically, why aren’t we going to do a health care plan like the Europeans have, with a government-run program, and then proceeds to explain whey he’s different. On Fox News, what appeared was a clipped quote, “why don’t we have a European-style health care plan?” Right, deliberate misinformation.

All of that has contributed to a situation where the public…

AILES: Wait a minute, wait a minute…

KRUGMAN: I can show you the clip, and you can…

(CROSSTALK)

AILES: The American people are not stupid…

KRUGMAN: No, they’re not stupid. They are uninformed.

AILES: If you say — if (inaudible) words are in the Constitution, if the founding fathers managed — they didn’t need 2,000 pages of lawyers to hide things, then tell, then tell…

KRUGMAN: Oh, come on. Legislation always is long.

AILES: … then tell people it’s an emergency that we get it, but it won’t go into effect for three years. So you don’t have time to read it, you…

(CROSSTALK)

KRUGMAN: People, again, this was a plan that is — it’s actually a Republican plan. It’s Mitt Romney’s health care plan. People were led to believe that it was socialism. That’s — and that was deliberate. That wasn’t just poor reporting.

And there was this gem:

AILES: Jobs is the second issue, in my view.

WALTERS: What’s the first?

AILES: Safety and sovereignty of the United States, and I think people, when they see a guy get all the way over Detroit to (inaudible) his underpants, but he could have, and now we’re in a situation where we’re going to have to either — we took everybody’s shoes off; now we’re going to have to take everybody’s underpants off. But the fact is, that’s not going to stop. We’ve got to get much tougher. We’ve cut the hands off the CIA. We can’t — it’s the Norwegians that are doing this. We know who it is. We can’t seem to say it. So sooner or later, we’re going to have to toughen up on all this stuff. And the American people know it, they feel it, and they’re worried about it.

Finally, Arianna Huffington asked Ailes why Fox News cut away from the President’s colloquy with House Republicans, unlike every other cable station:

HUFFINGTON: Roger, you clearly are in ratings, but if you are in ratings, can you explain to me why FOX went away from the meeting the president was having in — why did you go away, 20 minutes before the end?

AILES: Because we’re the most trusted name in news.

HUFFINGTON: OK and on that note…

WALTERS: I thought we were the most trusted name in news.

AILES: And we believe two liberal polls have now proven it.

It wasn’t dull, I’ll say that. Ailes pretty much solidified his stature as America’s most powerful paranoid.

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