Fmr NYC Mayor David Dinkins, FNC Chairman Roger Ailes and the Rev. Jesse Jackson at the Ailes Apprenticeship Program graduation
This morning a 12th floor studio at Fox News Channel hosted the commencement ceremony of the Ailes Apprenticeship Program. Established by Fox News co-founder and chairman Roger Ailes in 2003, the program selects a small, diverse group of candidates and puts them through the rigors of working in a news environment, paring them with seasoned mentors. And unlike Donald Trump‘s apprentices, at the end of the year-long program, all Ailes apprentices get hired.
Today’s ceremony was emceed by FNC anchor Bill Hemmer and the keynote speaker was the Rev. Jesse Jackson who admitted, “I’m quite nervous. I’m a lamb and I’ve come to the lion,” as he looked towards Ailes. Ailes tells TVNewser he’s known Jackson for decades and has kept up “a backchannel conversation for years.”
Jackson called Ailes, “a tough-minded, caring individual,” who is “preparing leaders for the diverse world in which we live.”
Speakers included world-renowned mathematician, Mexico City-born Hewlett-Packard researcher Dr. Pano Santos talked about his mentors: Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard; and Capt. Gail Harris who at her retirement was the highest-ranking African-American woman in the U.S. Navy told the four graduates they need to now be mentors for the next generation. Also participating, Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner who joked, “if you have not been inspired by today’s remarks, you must be sleeping.”
After the ceremony, we spent a half hour in Ailes office talking about a range of issues including election night, his re-signing with Fox News, whether he entertained any offers from CNN for their top job and about what the Apprenticeship Program means for his legacy.
“I don’t care about my legacy,” Ailes says. “It’s too late. My enemies will create it and they’ll push it. What I care about however… what I want to do is expand” the program. “If every company did this, could you imagine what that’d do to minority unemployment and success?”
More from our Q&A after the jump, and in subsequent posts…