Murdoch Brothers on Roger Ailes: ‘We Hope He Stays for as Long as He Wants’

By Chris Ariens 

Roger Ailes with James Murdch (right) at the RTCA Dinner in 2010.

Roger Ailes with James Murdch (right) at the RTCA Dinner in 2010.

In an hour-long conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Lachlan and James Murdoch talk about their new roles atop the Fox empire: On July 1 James took over as CEO of 21st Century Fox and his older brother Lachlan became executive co-chairman, along with their father Rupert Murdoch. A week before they took over, the head of the company’s biggest moneymaker, Fox News Channel, signed a contract extension, putting an end to speculation about Roger Ailes‘ future.

Lachlan Murdoch says the relationship with Ailes is good. “We both talk to him all the time. The business he’s built, and the channels he’s built, are terrific. We have a huge regard for him, and he’s done a great job,” Lachlan added.

THR: But Roger told THR earlier this year that nobody knows what’s going to happen to him or to Fox News once Rupert retires.

LACHLAN: Rupert’s never retiring. (Laughs.)

THR: But it’s no secret that Ailes’ relationship is with Rupert. He’s said he doesn’t really know you guys.

JAMES: We have a good relationship with Roger, and it’s been a long one. Listen, Fox News is an incredible franchise. We think they’re doing a great job.

THR: Can you commit right now to keeping Roger as long as he wants to stay?

JAMES: I wouldn’t get into discussing with you, frankly, any future issues around what somebody might or might not want to do.

THR: Not what he wants to do, what you want to do …

JAMES: Certainly, from my perspective, he just signed a new contract and we’re really pleased with that, and we hope he stays for as long as he wants.

LACHLAN He’s done a great job.

THR: When you see Donald Trump feuding with Fox News, do you get involved?

LACHLAN: We’ll always support our editors and news producers, and certainly our journalists. If someone wants to have a feud with any of them, not just Donald Trump, we’ll always support our really hard-working and decent journalists. Part of our job is to protect them.

JAMES: The strongest thought that I had when I saw the beginning of that [Trump’s attacks following the Fox News-hosted GOP debate] was just how awesome Megyn Kelly was.

LACHLAN: Yeah, she was great.