Monday, January 11, 2010

A Fox Chief at the Pinnacle of Media and Politics

The New York Times - In the fall of 2008, Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News, went to his boss, Rupert Murdoch, with two complaints: he had heard that Mr. Murdoch was considering endorsing Barack Obama for president in The New York Post, and he had read a book excerpt in Vanity Fair suggesting that Mr. Murdoch was sometimes embarrassed by the right-leaning Fox News.

Mr. Ailes threatened to quit, a person familiar with the conversation said. Instead, Mr. Murdoch soon rewarded him with a new, more lucrative contract — he made $23 million last year in salary, bonuses and other compensation, more than Mr. Murdoch — and The New York Post endorsed John McCain.

In an interview in late December in his office at News Corporation headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Mr. Ailes conceded that he had opposed an Obama endorsement. (“I didn’t think he had the experience,” he said, adding, “I don’t tell Rupert Murdoch who to endorse.”) He was outraged by the Vanity Fair article but said he “demanded nothing” and did not threaten to quit. He said he did not have to.
“If you’re making money and you’ve hit your targets for five years, you don’t need to demand a new contract,” he said.

Mr. Ailes is certainly making money. 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.


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/business/media/10ailes.html

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