On election night, Fox News co-founder and chairman Roger Ailes watched election coverage in the News Corp. Sports Suite, down the hall from his second floor office. When he saw how things were going, a likely re-election for Pres. Obama, he decided to call it a night.
“It only took 15 minutes to get home,” Ailes told TVNewser in a lengthy interview in his office Thursday. “I turn on the TV and the first thing I see is Rove saying something like ‘you called Ohio too early.’ And I thought, ‘What the? What is this?’”
Ailes watched as his highly-paid pundit was challenging his decision desk’s call which would give the election to Pres. Obama.
“So I quickly called [EVP of News] Michael Clemente and I said, ‘Michael whatever you do, don’t go to commercial. Don’t leave the screen.’”
Ailes instructed Clemente to have Megyn Kelly, “go confront the decision team. If you have to, make the decision team confront Rove.” Confrontation is Roger Ailes’ middle name. (Actually it’s Eugene)
Ailes says transparency was the key, telling Clemente, “‘We can’t do anything off camera.’ I didn’t want the public or our competitors to say we somehow panicked and didn’t confront the truth on camera.”
“As it turned out Rove was wrong. He backed down. Our guys were right. We stayed with it. Megyn did her famous walk down the hall. And it all worked out.”
Fox News and the Obama administration already have a chilly relationship. Last year in a news conference, the president remarked to FNC White House correspondent Ed Henry, “I didn’t know you where the spokesperson for Mitt Romney.”
So, how will the next four years play out?
“It’s day to day for us,” Ailes tell us. “We don’t — I know no one believes it — we have no agenda. If he runs into a burning building tomorrow and saves four kids, he’s gonna be the biggest goddamn hero Fox News ever saw. But if he leaves four guys behind on the battlefield but can’t explain it, then he’s gonna have a problem with Fox News.”
“I don’t mind praising the guy and I don’t mind questioning the guy,” says Ailes. “It’s day to day.”