March 6th, 2013
11:14 AM ET
1 year ago

Fox News chief's choice words for Obama, Biden and Gingrich

(CNN) – Roger Ailes has never been known to keep his opinions to himself.

So perhaps it's no surprise the powerful boss of Fox News Channel revealed candid opinions of top political figures – including President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich – during conversations and meetings that were recorded by his biographer Zev Chafets.

In excerpts of Chafets' upcoming book "Roger Ailes: Off Camera" that were published in this month's Vanity Fair, the Fox News president is shown fiercely criticizing Obama, who he calls "lazy."

The remark came amid an analysis of CNN contributor and Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen's claims that Ann Romney had "never worked a day in her life" (Rosen later apologized.)

"Obama's the one who never worked a day in his life," Ailes said in an exchange with his spokesman, according to the excerpt in Vanity Fair. "He never earned a penny that wasn't public money. How many fund-raisers does he attend every week? How often does he play basketball and golf? I wish I had that kind of time. He's lazy, but the media won't report that."

When Ailes noticed Chafets' surprised reaction, the television executive added: "I didn't come up with that. Obama said that, to Barbara Walters."

He was referring to an interview when the ABC anchor asked Obama for "the trait you most deplore in yourself."

"Laziness," the president responded, explaining "There is a deep down, underneath all the work that I do, I think there's a laziness in me. It's probably from, you know, growing up in Hawaii and it's sunny outside, and sitting on the beach."

Ailes was no less forgiving in his assessment of Obama's deputy Joe Biden. During a meeting with staff discussing vice presidential politics, Ailes remarked, "I have a soft spot for Joe Biden…I like him. But he's dumb as an ashtray."

Also on the receiving end of Ailes' blunt appraisal? Newt Gingrich, the former house speaker, who gave up his contributor role at Fox to make a bid for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

In the waning days of his presidential campaign, Gingrich was quoted saying "Fox has been for Romney all the way through," adding that he thought CNN's coverage of the GOP primaries was less biased.

"We are more likely to get neutral coverage out of CNN than we are of Fox, and we're more likely to get distortion out of Fox. That's just a fact," Gingrich said at an event in Delaware, according to a report from Real Clear Politics.

"He's a sore loser and if he had won he would have been a sore winner," Ailes said, according to Chafets' biography.

"Newt's a prick," Ailes succinctly concluded.

CNN reached out to the White House and to a representative of Gingrich for reaction to Ailes' comments.

soundoff (484 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain: We don't have a spending problem; we have a Republican problem.

    Ailes calling the President "lazy"? From the man who actively encourages his viewers and listeners to check their brains at the door and blindly swallow his lies?

    The lazy ones are the Repubs who'd rather abandon our country than do the hard work necessary to revitalize it. Too lazy and too cheap ... but never too tired to thump their chests about how "patriotic" and "real Americans" they are, all the while manipulating folks to vote against their own self-interest and take our country down the tubes.

    I'll be very happy when Ailes leaves this mortal coil ...

    March 6, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  2. Thomas

    Ten years and $60 billion in American taxpayer funds later, Iraq is still so unstable and broken that even its leaders question whether U.S. efforts to rebuild the war-torn nation were worth the cost.
    In his final report to Congress, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen's conclusion was all too clear: Since the invasion a decade ago this month, the U.S. has spent too much money in Iraq for too few results.

    Thank you Fox News.

    March 6, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  3. janetlaw

    Well, I agree with his assessment of Newt. But what a sad, bitter, crusty old white guy...your days are numbered, my friend.

    March 6, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  4. ST

    Too much of a thing is good for nothing. I think there is too much of freedom of speech, democracy, which in the real sense tend to reveal craziness of some people. There must be a limit of these two. There must be also certain degree of respect to the leaders (especially the President), who has been elected by millions of people. Calling him "lazy", is a big insult to those who elected him.

    March 6, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  5. I FORGOT MY NAME

    I can now see why Fox News isn't news...it's garbage.

    March 6, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  6. bcrunner

    @Thomas: $60 billion? The Iraq war has cost close to a trillion dollars in direct costs to the defense department without the hidden costs and futre costs to take care of the wounded and the veterans.. Of course FOX news would put it at $60 billion. They don't live in the real world..

    March 6, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    What a guileless display of venom. Has he no shame? On another note, a recent study has shown that Fox News viewers are actually *less* informed than people who never watch the news or read newspapers.

    March 6, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  8. Gerald Tinnon

    If the President can admit he's lazy, why doesn't Ailes admit that he is ignorant? Just another Republican billionaire who thinks he's better than everybody else, especially those that started at the bottom, and solidifies the perception that Republicans don't care about anybody but other rich cronies. (Newt is not rich enough)

    March 6, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  9. Jurassic Pork

    Roger Ailes is a prick.

    March 6, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  10. Winky

    Fat lazy! Only thing he does is sit behind a desk an create yellow journalism!

    March 6, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    Ailes' comments about the President and Vice-President are no surprise, but Newt? You hired him, Roger, what does that say about your judgement?

    March 6, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  12. Figjam

    "Obama's the one who never worked a day in his life," Ailes said in an exchange with his spokesman, according to the excerpt in Vanity Fair. "He never earned a penny that wasn't public money. How many fund-raisers does he attend every week? How often does he play basketball and golf? I wish I had that kind of time. He's lazy, but the media won't report that."

    ...correct me if I am wrong but isn't ailes, "The Media"?

    March 6, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  13. Jason

    That's funny real journalists call Fox News jouralism lazy.

    March 6, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  14. sonny chapman

    "Hard work never killed anybody. But why take a chance"-Ronald Reagen. By the way, what was that Free Market Guru of Harkin Energy & Texas Ranger's fame, George W. Bush's "occupation" ?

    March 6, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  15. PaulCat

    How can we expect fox news to report the truth when their own president can't tell the truth? IT'S A SHAME! (GOP, ALWAYS)

    March 6, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  16. vp

    "He never earned a penny that wasn't public money"

    Pretty sure he was a professor at the University of Chicago for 12 years...

    are you counting that as "public money", Mr. Ailes?

    March 6, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  17. freedom

    Straight talk – how refreshing !

    March 6, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  18. calvin

    I can see now why Fox News gets such a bad rap. Just look at this guy... pathetic.

    March 6, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  19. Dusty

    ST and several other responders are nut jobs. Too much Freedom of Speech! Too much Democracy! Who are you people? You sound like bitter, handout seeking losers.

    March 6, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  20. Ret OEF/OIF Veteran

    Cheap words coming from a man who works for one of the most crooked men in the news (Mr. Murdoch) Business who had to close his paper in Britain do to scandle and illegal actions. The GOP is to blame for a large portion of our problems take the unfunded War in Iraq which was done for a total lie, medicare prescription plan which is great for seniors but not funded (adds to the deficit/passed by GOP controlled house and signed by BUSH)!!!

    March 6, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  21. Wisconsin Gal

    Since when did working in the public sector become "never working a day in his life?"

    March 6, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  22. Rudy NYC

    This is a textbook example of what happens to people who watch the Fox News Channel too much. I'm sure he's dialed in 24/7 by 365.

    March 6, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  23. Steven Colo

    Wow. From a broken, single parent home to President of the United States... and gets called lazy. (BTW, AIles is dead wrong that Obama never held a job in the private sector.)

    It's odd that the GOP keeps thinking there's something wrong with Obama. They said he was weak in foreign policy when he took out OBL, and they seem to think that there's something unmanly in his being a community organizer. Well, he used those skills to mobilize an army of supporters like the world has never seen.

    March 6, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  24. Charlie

    Ailes is a good Republican. Old, white, and angry.

    March 6, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  25. RCM

    The head of a station that only the Wing nuts watch to get their daily dose of made up news.

    March 6, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
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