When Fox News was created nearly 20 years ago, the upstart cable channel was viewed as a conservative alternative to a long-dominant, and left-leaning, TV news media. Over the years, network co-founder and current chairman and CEO Roger Ailes has had to defend the network’s Fair and Balanced approach to news coverage from critics who view the channel as a mouthpiece for the GOP. Ailes, after-all, was once a Republican image consultant.
In an hour-long interview in his office as part of him being named Adweek’s Media Visionary for 2015, we asked Ailes about whether factionalized viewing is a good thing.
Ailes: Look, it’s an old concept of advertising they studied way back in the ’50s called selective perception and selective memory. I saw it in political spots. People will watch things they are already attracted to. It’s almost physiological or physical or something. I’m not sure you could stop factionalization if you wanted to because I think it’s a part of that selective perception. A lot of people have gone broke trying to chase those trends. I don’t chase millenials. I didn’t chase baby boomers. I put on an American channel for America. For old folks and young folks, and try to mix it up and make it interesting. People look at it, and I hope I get high enough ratings overall, and people will include some of the subgroups in comparable measurements. So Bill O’Reilly has the highest demo on our channel. In the advertiser demo. He’s in his 60s, and he’s cranky, and a lot of kids don’t want to watch his ass but they do.