Roger Ailes Says Jon Stewart Told Him He's an Atheist and a Socialist

Fox News boss Roger Ailes offered his (negative) opinion of liberal comedian-slash-"fake news" personality Jon Stewart in the overlooked opening of his interview with Howard Kurtz:

When Jon Stewart was appearing on The O’Reilly Factor a few weeks back, he stopped by Roger Ailes’ office for an hour-long chat about politics.   “He’s obviously really, really smart,” the Fox News chairman says. “He openly admits he’s sort of an atheist and a socialist. He once told me he would’ve voted for Norman Thomas.” 

Ailes was appraising the Daily Show star in a friendly, good-natured tone. But that tone changed when the conversation turned to Stewart’s continuous carping about the excesses of cable news:  “He hates conservative views. He hates conservative thoughts. He hates conservative verbiage. He hates conservatives.”   

 There was more.   

“He’s crazy. If it wasn’t polarized, he couldn’t make a living. He makes a living by attacking conservatives and stirring up a liberal base against it.”   

I tried to interrupt.   

“He loves polarization. He depends on it. If liberals and conservatives are all getting along, how good would that show be? It’d be a bomb.”    

But Stewart played clips of MSNBC as well as Fox at his Washington rally last month, casting them as part of the “24-hour politico, pundit, perpetual panic conflictinator.” He says his concern is not the ideology of cable channels but the tone of the discourse.   

“Oh, horses--t,” Ailes shot back. “Look what he does to Sarah Palin.” If Stewart wants to go after cable hosts for the entertainment value, fine, “but don’t give me a social speech on the steps of the Washington Monument. Don’t lapse into non-comedy.” 

Kurtz pressed Ailes to distance his network from Fox host Bill O'Reilly's joke that “Does Sharia law say we can behead Dana Milbank?” O'Reilly insisted he was joking, but Kurtz asked should O’Reilly be joshing about beheading Milbank?  

Ailes couldn’t resist: “Well, I would have cut a little lower.”   

He quickly got serious: “No, he shouldn’t joke about beheading… Bill knows he probably shouldn’t have said it. He just shot off his mouth.” 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis