March 6th, 2013
11:14 AM ET
10 years 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)

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2008-2012. Hey, GOP, is that lazy to you?

    March 7, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  2. Peter

    He talks like a crude Mafia chief instead of the head of a so-called respected news organization.

    Edward R. Murrow destroyed Joe McCarthy by being articulate and fact-based, not by sounding like a boorish pig.

    I can't imagine Edward R. Murrow calling even someone like Joe McCarthy "a prick".

    Not surprised. Many on the Fox team pride themselves in their ability to boil things down to language and presentation fit for crude morons.

    March 7, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  3. Bob Ramos

    A private citizen is entitled to his opinion but Ailes is the head of Fox News. As such, Ailes has a very real conflict of interest. Networks like Fox have the very real duty and obligation to report news without bias. As shown ever since 2008, Ailes/Fox have always hated Obama and have not been shy about it.

    March 7, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  4. Howard

    Obama was a community organizer. Since Ailes would never even remotely consider doing such work, I doubt he has a clue as to how much effort it really involves. One thing's for certain you don't do it for the money, 'cause there's darn little money in it.

    Obama was also a college professor. I'm sure all those teachers Mr. Ailes ever had are happy to know he didn't think they were working either. However, I suspect they have a very different view of what it's like having to pound a little knowledge into a skull as thick as Roger Ailes.

    March 7, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  5. Big_D

    Ailes is the reason FOX shouldn't have a broadcast license. We certainly could eliminate the FCC since stations like FOX show they have no authority or enforcement in today's media world.

    March 7, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. Pam from Iowa

    Well, lazy won the election, didnt' he?
    I have some choice words to call this guy, but I doubt CNN would publish it!
    but seriously, why is the even newsworthy??? who watches Fox News anyway????

    March 7, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  7. james pfeiffer

    Roger Ailes calling the president of the United States lazy is about as legitimate as Fox (faux) news claiming that its network is even remotely professional.

    March 7, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  8. Mark

    When he was speaking about Obama you could have substituted the name Bush and it would have fit perfectly. Whenhe spoke of all the time Obama spends playing golf why did he fail to mention that Bush took more vacation days than any other president? Because he repesents Fox News which as he likes to say, is fair and balanced....NOT.

    March 7, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  9. rcchev

    Fox news is a joke.....all of you at fox, go eat a brick, and save the largest chunck for the CEO!!

    March 7, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
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