Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes appeared on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos Sunday.
Barbara Walters was the guest host of the show’s Roundtable that included New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, George Will and the Huffington Post’s Ariana Huffington.
The Roundtable focused largely on Fox News coverage of President Obama.
Here are key excerpts of Ailes’s comments:
On his current relationship with Obama
“Well, they tried to ban us. They tried to break the pool, but the other networks stepped up and protected Fox on it, because it was tortuous interference with a contractual relationship and sort of tramping around on the Constitution . . . We're fine . . . It was not as bad as it was played, and things are not as great as they should be. But we have a good dialogue. And I saw the president and his wife at the media Christmas party. They were very gracious, very nice, both of them. And we have a dialogue every day with them.”
Huffington complains about Glenn Beck’s comments about Obama
“Well, he was talking about Hitler and Stalin slaughtering people. So I think he was probably accurate. Also, I'm a little . . . 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 says Fox is engaging in a “paranoid style”
“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 . . . And I thought — and then it got nasty after that . . . Then it really went nasty, and I thought, gee, maybe Arianna ought to cut this out, but...”
Krugman says Fox offered the public disinformation on Obama’s healthcare plan
“The American people are not stupid . . . If you say — if 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 . . . 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 . . . But there are 300 million people who have a healthcare plan that they are happy with. There are about 30 million people who don't have a healthcare plan. So as an executive, what do you do? You go fix the 30 million. You don't go over here and upset the apple cart for 300 million . . . ”
Walters asks what advice Ailes would give Barack Obama
“I think he's in a very tough spot. He is enormously likable and I think despite what everybody says, people would like him to succeed. But he came in with the belief that the radical change he wanted or what some people say is a radical change that he wanted would be widely accepted . . . The first advice I'd give him is listen to everybody and then go in a dark room by yourself, because in the end, it's all going to happen in your brain.
"If you actually believe all these things that you're for, and Richard Neustadt in "Presidential Power" explains that the only real presidential power is the power to persuade the people, to be open, to go out to them and say this is the reason I believe this, this is the direction I believe the American people should go. If he doesn't do that and I don't think he can sell some of his programs.
"I think he has to become president of all the people and I think he's got to go to transparency and I think you'd be surprised. People who are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but you can't do this in back rooms surrounded entirely by political consultants.”
His take on Obama’s State of the Union speech
“I thought he did a pretty good job of delivering his speech. He seemed to get a little bit of his energy back. He'd fallen away over the last few months. You know, he did some dumb things, like take on the Supreme Court. But the media saved him and blamed it all on Alito.
"But you know, that speech, he's got to follow it up with his — Look, there is an easy way to get it done. I went to the White House one night because I had to meet with Ronald Reagan. And there was a lot of laughter down at the end of the hallway. I waited about 10 minutes, and out came Reagan and Tip O'Neill, arm in arm, with a drink in their hand, telling Irish jokes. In the paper the next day, they kind of trashed each other's ideas, but they obviously cut some kind of a deal. And that's, you know, there are ways. If he wants to invite the four Republicans and four Democrats over to the Super Bowl and say, come on, guys, we've got to get some jobs . . . ”
On Sarah Palin
“I have no — no idea, no idea whether she even wants to [run for president]. I don't think she — she knows. I mean, everybody hates her who's ever written a book because they didn't sell many. She wrote a book and it sold two million in two weeks, and so now they hate her, they have a new reason to hate her . . . Fox News is fair and balanced. We had Geraldine Ferraro on for 10 years as the only woman the Democrats ever nominated. Now we have the only woman that the Republicans nominated. I'm not in politics, I'm in ratings.”
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