Esquire‘s Tom Junod has a home run of a profile entitled “Why Does Roger Ailes Hate America?” in the new issue, available online now in full, picking the brain of the country’s most powerful television executive. Or is it most powerful period? Though, let it be known, Ailes’ insecurity persists, money bags, reverent presidential candidates and all: “I know what you’re going to write about me,” he insists. “I can pretty much pick the words for you. Paranoid, right-wing, fat. I love that. I’m the only guy in America who’s fat.” And that’s just the superficial stuff!
Just kidding, most of it is superficial stuff — BlackBerrys, television screens, tables at exclusive restaurants — but it adds up not to something just juicy, gossipy or even easily digested. Instead, it’s a mess of deep-seeming head-scratchers that directly mirror the confusion non-Fox News viewers feel about Fox’s successes. Ailes, Esquire will have you believe, is entirely responsible.
Here he is describing the career trajectory of Jenna Lee, a “creamy redhead,” in the words of the writer; created in a lab according to Ailes:
“Well, she didn’t look anything like she looks now when she came here. She’d just completed Columbia journalism school, and she wanted to be a writer. But I met with her and sent her down to hair and makeup to clean her up a little. When she came back, I took a look at her and said, ‘What would you think of going on air?’ I had to work with her a little to bring her pitch down, and now she’s going to be a big star. And she wanted to be a writer.”
And again with his on-air talent:
By “Megyn,” he means, of course, Fox fox Megyn Kelly, the meanest of the mean girls, the heaving, sumptuous blond with the wide-set eyes, the briskly triangular chin, and the porno sneer she directs at ill-fated liberal guests. Roger Ailes loves Megyn Kelly (in a fatherly way, of course): “She’s a host. For one thing, she’s fearless — she’d crawl down a smokestack for a story. But look at the way she moves. She’d move like that if she was arguing at the dinner table. Very natural. O’Reilly’s the same way. He’s an Irishman who likes to argue. He’d do it anywhere. We just found a way for him to do it on TV.”
And that’s only a taste of the nuttiness — the hugely successful kind of crazy that just keeps coming in this endlessly entertaining, bubbly, indulgent piece of journalism. Here’s Ailes, again acting weird, saying what he wants, winning a war of words:
“Look,” he said, “it’s Veteran’s Day, and we’re the only ones doing anything about it. So maybe people like us because we like veterans. Those other networks probably had to have a meeting about it. They probably worried that if they were pro-veteran, people would think they were pro-war.” See, that’s the difference: Fox is pro-veteran and the other networks are … well, they’re not even pro-choice. “They say they’re pro-choice. They’re proabortion! Some of the talent who come to Fox come here because the other networks require them to be proabortion.”
Babies get a pass; Ailes will settle for killing everything else.
Why Does Roger Ailes Hate America? [Esquire]
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 18, 2011