Fox's Roger Ailes Battles Huffington, Krugman and Walters

There was a marvelous fireworks display on Sunday's "This Week" when Fox News chairman Roger Ailes squared off against liberal media powerhouses Arianna Huffington, Paul Krugman, and substitute host Barbara Walters.

The one standing at the end likely didn't vote for Barack Obama.

In the second half of the Roundtable segment, Walters began by asking her conservative guest about the White House's much-publicized battle with his network.

Almost as if scripted, this teed up Huffington and Krugman to voice their displeasure with Fox.

Fortunately, Ailes was up to the challenge making for a very entertaining segment (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript and commentary): 

BARBARA WALTERS, HOST: That was President Obama appearing before House Republicans at their annual retreat on Friday, an unusually open and honest back-and-forth, and we'll talk more about that with our roundtable. George Will, Arianna Huffington, Paul Krugman, and Roger Ailes, who is chairman and CEO of Fox News.

Roger, just let me begin with you. You have had your own back-and-forth with the White House. They were not very happy with you, banned you for a while. Have you kissed and made up? Is it hunky-dory?

ROGER AILES. CHAIRMAN FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Well, they tried to ban us. They tried to break the pool, but the other networks stepped up and protected Fox on it, because it was tortuous (ph) interference with a contractual relationship and sort of tramping around on the Constitution...

WALTERS: But now you're OK.

AILES: We're fine. I mean, we were -- it was not as bad as it was played, and things are not as great (ph) as they should be, but we have a good dialogue. And I saw the president and his wife at the media Christmas party. They were very gracious, very nice, both of them. And we have a dialogue every day with them.

WALTERS: Aw, shucks. It was more fun the other way.

AILES: Well, I'll pick a fight if you want. I mean, I'll be happy to get into one.

(LAUGHTER)

AILES: But I think there will be others. We have differences, but...

Round one to Ailes. Next up was the uber-liberal Huffington:

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Well, Roger, it's not a question of picking a fight. And aren't you concerned about the language that Glenn Beck is using, which is, after all, inciting the American people? There is a lot of suffering out there, as you know, and when he talks about people being slaughtered, about who is going to be the next in the killing spree...

(CROSSTALK)

AILES: Well, he was talking about Hitler and Stalin slaughtering people. So I think he was probably accurate. Also, I'm a little....

HUFFINGTON: No, no, he was talking about this administration.

AILES: I don't -- I think he speaks English. I don't know, but I mean, I don't misinterpret any of his words. He did say one unfortunate thing, which he apologized for, but that happens in live television. So I don't think it's -- I think if we start going around as the word police in this business, it will be...

HUFFINGTON: It's not about the word police. It's about something deeper. It's about the fact that there is a tradition as the historian Richard Hofstetter said, in American politics, of the paranoid style. And the paranoid style is dangerous when there is real pain out there. I mean, with...

AILES: I agree with you. I read something on your blog that said I looked like J. Edgar Hoover, I had a face like a fist, and I was essentially a malignant tumor...

HUFFINGTON: Well, that's...

AILES: And I thought -- and then it got nasty after that...

HUFFINGTON: ... that was never by anybody that we had...

(CROSSTALK)

AILES: Then it really went nasty, and I thought, gee, maybe Arianna ought to cut this out, but...

Round two for Ailes. Enter Paul Krugman stage FAR left:

PAUL KRUGMAN, NEW YORK TIMES: If I can just -- you know, what bothers me is not the nasty language. Glenn Beck doesn't, you know, it's not -- what bothers me is the fact that people are not getting informed, that we are going through major debates on crucial policy issues; the public is not learning about them. And you know, you can say, well, they can read the New York Times, which will tell them what they need to know, but you know, most people don't. They don't read it thoroughly. They get -- on this health care thing, I'm a little obsessed with it, because it's a key issue for me. People did not know what was in the plan, and some of that was just poor reporting, some of it was deliberate misinformation. I have here in front of me when President Obama said, you know, why -- he said rhetorically, why aren't we going to do a health care plan like the Europeans have, with a government-run program, and then proceeds to explain whey he's different. On Fox News, what appeared was a clipped quote, "why don't we have a European-style health care plan?" Right, deliberate misinformation.

All of that has contributed to a situation where the public...

AILES: Wait a minute, wait a minute...

KRUGMAN: I can show you the clip, and you can...

(CROSSTALK)

AILES: The American people are not stupid...

KRUGMAN: No, they're not stupid. They are uninformed.

AILES: If you say -- if (inaudible) words are in the Constitution, if the founding fathers managed -- they didn't need 2,000 pages of lawyers to hide things, then tell, then tell...

KRUGMAN: Oh, come on. Legislation always is long.

AILES: ... then tell people it's an emergency that we get it, but it won't go into effect for three years. So you don't have time to read it, you...

(CROSSTALK)

Round three for Ailes.

Clearly sensing they were losing, Huffington and Krugman decided to try a tag-team:

KRUGMAN: People, again, this was a plan that is -- it's actually a Republican plan. It's Mitt Romney's health care plan. People were led to believe that it was socialism. That's -- and that was deliberate. That wasn't just poor reporting.

(CROSSTALK)

HUFFINGTON: There are two separate problems...

AILES: Let me ask you a question, just as an example...

(CROSSTALK)

HUFFINGTON: ... let me just answer that, because there is a problem in the fact that there wasn't a plan. There wasn't a plan that people could understand. There were (inaudible) plans with a lot of differences. But there is also a problem when it comes to the words being used. Words matter. And words that are actually being used by people we hire are different than the words that are being used by commenters on our sites, like you mentioned.

(CROSSTALK)

AILES: But there are 300 million people who have a health care plan that they are happy with. There are about 30 million people who don't have a health care plan. So as an executive, what do you do? You go fix the 30 million. You don't go over here and upset the apple cart for 300 million...

KRUGMAN: Which is exactly what the plan was.

AILES: No, no, no...

KRUGMAN: It was trying (ph) to leave the employer-based health care...

(CROSSTALK)

AILES: ... $500 billion away from old people.

The Huffington-Krugman tag-team didn't work. So, Walters moments later jumped into the ring and tried to weaken their opponent by bringing up the former governor of Alaska:

WALTERS: I just want to ask, in the few seconds we have left, Sarah Palin is now on your payroll. OK? 2012, presidential candidate?

AILES: I have no -- no idea, no idea whether she even wants to. I don't think she -- she knows. I mean, everybody hates her who's ever written a book because they didn't sell many. She wrote a book and it sold two million in two weeks, and so now they hate her, they have a new reason to hate her. I don't know...

WALTERS: But you hired her to be a commentator. Do you think -- so you must think she has some qualifications? She seems to be very popular with certain groups. Do you think she has the qualifications to be president?

AILES: FOX News is fair and balanced. We had Geraldine Ferraro on for 10 years as the only woman the Democrats ever nominated. Now we have the only woman that the Republicans nominated. I'm not in politics, I'm in ratings. We're willing.

HUFFINGTON: Roger, you clearly are in ratings, but if you are in ratings, can you explain to me why FOX went away from the meeting the president was having in -- why did you go away, 20 minutes before the end?

AILES: Because we're the most trusted name in news.

HUFFINGTON: OK and on that note...

WALTERS: I thought we were the most trusted name in news.

AILES: And we believe two liberal polls have now proven it.

Ouch. Say good night!

Add it all up, and Ailes took on three of the left's media darlings without getting a scratch.

The next time he's invited on the producers should substitute another liberal for George Will to see if four leftists can fare better against the Fox News chairman than three.

I don't know about you, but I can't wait.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.