Roger Ailes Biography: His Friendship With Barbara Walters and Rachel Maddow

By Alex Weprin 

Today Zev Chafets‘ biography of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes Roger Ailes: Off Camera, hits bookstores. We’ve been combing through the book, and will be highlighting a few noteworthy portions.

One of the recurring themes in the biography is the friendships Ailes has formed with both his colleagues and competitors.

Two in particular stood out: his longtime friendship with ABC’s Barbara Walters, and his more recent friendship between FNC’s cable news competitor Rachel Maddow.


With regard to Walters:

“Roger is a huge name and everybody knows who he is, but he doesn’t strive for fame,” [Walters] said. “He lives a quiet life. I was very happy when he finally married…”

“I dated Barbara a couple of times, or took her out as an escort, but we never had an affair,” Ailes told me. “We probably could have at some point, but we were always married or between marriages or talking about marrying someone. We never got beyond that point, but we trusted one another, and we still do.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow first met Ailes at a White House Christmas party in 2009 (pictured above):

They struck up a conversation about television production. To her surprise, she found Ailes charming and friendly. The next day The Huffington Post ran a picture of the encounter, and Maddow sent Ailes a note. “I didn’t want him to think that I agreed with The Huffington Post’s implication that this was a scandal,” she says. Ailes sent a note back assuring her that he thought no such thing. It was the start of an off-the-record handwritten correspondence between them, mostly on the art of cable news.

Chafets also noted Ailes’ blurb on the cover of Maddow’s latest book Drift, and the speculation that followed.

“I don’t want to recruit her but they’ll think I do,” he told me with a grin.” Hell, they’re paranoid over there.”