A great read in tomorrow’s New York Times is online now. David Carr and Tim Arango profile Fox News founder and chairman Roger Ailes, and the power he wields both inside his company and out.
In addition to being the best-paid person in the News Corporation last year [$23 million in salary], he is the most successful news executive of the last 10 years, and his network exerts a strong influence on the fractured conservative movement.
At a time when the broadcast networks are struggling with diminishing audiences and profits in news, he has built Fox News into the profit engine of the News Corporation. Fox News is believed to make more money than CNN, MSNBC and the evening newscasts of NBC, ABC and CBS combined. The division is on track to achieve $700 million in operating profit this year, according to analyst estimates that Mr. Ailes does not dispute.
Ailes spoke with The Times in late December from his office. “I built this channel from my life experience. My first qualification is I didn’t go to Columbia Journalism School. There are no parties in this town that I want to go to.”
In fact, Ailes lives north of New York City in rural Putnam County.
A sign outside his house shows an illustration of a gun and advises visitors that it is under video surveillance. His movements now are shadowed by a phalanx of corporate-provided security. He travels to and from work in a miniature convoy of two sport utility vehicles. A camera on his desk displays the comings and goings outside his office, where he usually keeps the blinds drawn.
Ailes’ success is lost on no one in the worlds of both media and politics. “If he were a Democrat, I think there would be 67 Democratic senators right now,” said CNN contributor and Democratic political consultant James Carville. “In terms of the news business, the cable television business, and the political business, there is him and then there is everybody else.”