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)
  1. Anonymous


    Fox News has higher ratings than CNN and MSNBC combined. So, the majority of the country IS listening. You liberals are too worried about Kardashian's baby. Go and make some money for yourself and stop depending on the government.

    To get a true indication of where the country stands politically, what percentage of the country watches - on any given night - any one of the three programs you list? Two or three million people, give or take a million? Out of a country of how many million?

    March 7, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    People need to remember that Roger Ailes is responsible for creating the current climate of over-the-top statements, designed to make people afraid and angry: remember the " Daisy Ad"? he did for President Johnson 1964? Aired only once. Ailes has made a career out of putting out an interpretation, a point of view, NOT necessarily the truth. The fact that he would go out and say these things should surprise no one, least of all anyone with a memory or a sense of history. He fits in perfectly with Rupert Murdoch's view of making money, which is to edit and shape a story to inflame public opinion in one direction or the other: the only difference in the US is that NewsCorp has been in the tank almost exclusively for the GOP. He makes money out of being provacative, not by informing them. Are there liberal versions of FOX? Of course there are. MSNBC exists to inflame a liberal base, not to inform them, but FOX blew it with their embarrassing coverage of the 2012 elections. Ailes and FOX News is the love child of the Rupert Murdoch and Joseph Goebbels, where bullying and harrassment are excused in the name of ideological purity. Does Alies care? Nope. he's laughing at the rubes who swallow whatever they put out, safe in knowledge that he can't be ousted unless he lets up.

    March 7, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  3. ShawnDH

    Right-wing propaganda outlet FoxNews is sinking like a stone. There is a reason why FoxNews viewers are statistically less informed than people who watch no news at all! Think abou that.

    FoxNews had no problem with GW Bush playing cowboy on his ranch for a full 1/4 of his EPIC FAIL presidency, so I am enjoying FoxNews' dramatic slide into irrelevance...except for being the butt of jokes.

    March 7, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  4. nanners

    Would this guy say anything else? He has lost all credibility.

    March 7, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  5. Oscar Pitchfork

    Fox News is only popular because they've found the formula to rabble-rouse the sharp, trendy (yet technically ignorant) masses into a frenzy. It's exactly the same as Hitler did uniting Germany against their mortal enemy, the Jews/Blacks/Gypsies/retarded/deformed. The only difference is Fox has a world-wide, instantaneous network, and the people are even less critically-thinking than in 1939.

    March 7, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  6. ShawnDH

    Julian whined: "Fox News has higher ratings than CNN and MSNBC combined. So, the majority of the country IS listening. You liberals are too worried about Kardashian's baby. Go and make some money for yourself and stop depending on the government."

    MSNBC beats FoxNews in primetime, because MSNBC viewers are at work during the day and FoxNews viewers are not.'d that election in 2012 work out for ya since you're such a huuuuuge majority of the nation? Please show us that a majority - over 150,000,000 Americans - are tuning into right-wing propaganda outlet for morons. Thanks.

    FoxNews viewers have truly invented their own alternate reality. It's hilarious!

    March 7, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    Hey Julian. If more people watch FOX than watch CNN and MSNBC combined, wouldn't that mean more people on the right spend more time listening to useless talking heads banter their BS than do the people on the left? Apparently people on the left have more important things in their lives... than do the people on the right.

    Oh, and sorry to burst your bubble, but I sincerely doubt a "majority" of Americans watch either FOX, or CNN, or MSNBC.

    March 7, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  8. TG

    Mr Roger Ailes, boss of Fox News Channel, is condemning individuals that represent the U.S. as its leaders. Jesus said that a "house divided against itself cannot stand."(Matt 12:25) There is now more divisionary views than ever before, creating fractures within the framework of the United States. This fulfills what our Creator, Jehovah God, inspired Daniel to write down regarding the ' seventh king ' of Bible prophecy, the Anglo-American dual world power.(Rev 17:10)

    At Daniel 2, there is seen an "immense image" that pictured world powers that has had a strong impact on God's people, starting with ancient Babylon (as the "head of gold", Dan 2:38) down till our time, with "the feet and the toes....partly of molded clay and partly of iron".(Dan 2:41, representing the Anglo-American dual world power)
    Iron and molded clay do not stick well together, so Daniel writes that "whereas you beheld iron mixed with moist clay, they will come to be mixed with the offspring of mankind; but they will not prove to be sticking together, this one to that one, just as iron is not mixing with molded clay."(Dan 2:43)

    The very concept of the United States, with a two opposing parties (as does Britain), makes for a fractured government, which is steadily widening. Only our Creator, Jehovah God, can make a government that is perfectly united and will do so by removing all human governments in the near future, then fully establishing his government (already established in heaven), "God's kingdom" (Dan 2:44) for the benefit of those who are "meek" ones to enjoy an earthly paradise forever "in the abundance of peace".(Ps 37:11, 29; Matt 5:5)

    March 7, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  9. PatheticCNN


    you just aren't what you once where, which was good at your reporting, not any more and I sure hope you all do something about it. This is the left dominated media. Anything to distract from Obama's massive failure as president.

    March 7, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    "This is the left dominated media. Anything to distract from Obama's massive failure as president."

    Well, the good news is you that you still have FOX (and Friends) to keep YOU distracted ... yes?

    March 7, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  11. bjb

    It appears the instead of reporting news unbiased he is using his power to make his partisan views known without regard to truth.

    March 7, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  12. Marc

    Since when was this guy considered "powerful"? I haven't heard of this guy until this articale. His network is laughed at by all except the most delusional .... CNN is "opinionated" .... Fox is outright delussional ...

    March 7, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  13. Be Sane

    Bottom line, who cares what he thinks.

    March 7, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  14. wm Scot

    So far as I am concerned Fox is not a news organization it is more like a Rush Limbaugh type of entertainment program for the conservitives . Unfortunatly there are many that listen to it that think these programs are the "Gods" truth. "They" think that all the other media outlets are wrong and that "Their" Fox is the only truth !
    Propaganda works that way !

    March 7, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  15. Sniffit

    Racists pig oinks racist words. Story at 11.

    March 7, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  16. ghostriter

    Romney, who came from a pretty wealthy family to become 100 times more wealty is an American success story. Obama, who came from a broke, single parent home became President and he is lazy.

    I don't even blame Ailes. I blame the tea bags. Because after all who's worse, the fool or the fool that follows him?

    March 7, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  17. donna rochester

    Fox News? Not even close. The network and all who work there are traitorous liars. I can't imagine how they live with themselves. Not only are they totally unprofessional, untalented hacks, but they have sunk to such lows that they are simply ridiculous and will eventually fade into obscurity, soon, we hope.

    March 7, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  18. marty

    Roger Ailes, a real, true, in the flesh, Ugly American!

    March 7, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |

    He suffers from a genetic disorder. Perhaps that explains it.

    March 7, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  20. LIb

    Repubs still lying that they are the only ones who work in this country. What a joke. Repubs are so gullible to believe they are the only ones working in this country. I suppose the dems in dc are not working. seems to me it's always the gop who are out. dems work more than repubs will ever work. the red states have more on entitlements than blue. but then, repubs are liars.

    March 7, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lawd I can't believe this thread is still open...why? Its' the head of FOX fro chrissakes! Who cares what he thinks.

    March 7, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  22. jack

    It is about time that somebody called Obama lazy.Do you know any Kenyan,s that have good work ethics?Obama's DNA DOES NOT LIE. Demagoguery ,outright lies and arrogance is to be expected from Obama.

    March 7, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  23. dalewalk

    A little like the kettle calling the pot black (no pun) isn't it, for the rotund Ailes calling Obama lazy? An active person does not simply pile on the pounds by being active. On the contrary, look at Obama, watch him play basketball or just observe his movements and try to imagine that Ailes attempting same. His words are explain clearly how and why Fox News behaves the way it does.

    March 7, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  24. lB Colorado

    I have to disagree, no president on either side can actually be lazy. You do not get to this position for being lazy. I don't see him sitting on the couch getting fat and eating bons bons. The presidency requires much much more from an individual than what meets the eye. I do not know how any of these people sleep at night (meaning sooooooooooo much going on everywhere). I did not vote for him, but I do wish them luck in doing what has to be done. "Sweet Dreams".

    March 7, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  25. saldunn

    If you are black person, that's called "code" words that was used by racist for many years. Less all understand who it's coming from and act accordingly

    March 7, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
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