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Roger Ailes' job safe, Fox News says

The network moves to contain the fallout from critical comments made by Rupert Murdoch's son-in-law.

January 14, 2010|By Joe Flint
  • Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes in an interview said he was puzzled by disparaging remarks made by the son-in-law of News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch.
Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes in an interview said he was puzzled by disparaging… (Jennifer S. Altman / For…)

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. moved quickly Wednesday to damp speculation that Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes' future with the media giant was in doubt.

"News Corp. is 100% behind Roger Ailes," News Corp. President Chase Carey said, adding, "We hope and expect he will continue to lead Fox News well into the future."

The media giant looked to pour water on an Internet brush fire of stories claiming that Ailes' days at Fox News were numbered.

Kicking off those reports were critical comments about Ailes made by Matthew Freud, the husband of Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth. Freud, a public relations executive whose clients have included Fox News rival CNN, suggested that others in the family shared his views.

"I am by no means alone within the family or the company in being ashamed and sickened by Roger Ailes' horrendous and sustained disregard of the journalistic standards that News Corp., its founder and every other global media business aspires to," Freud told the New York Times in a profile about the Fox News chief published Saturday.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Ailes said Freud's remarks "didn't make sense to me," adding that stories proclaiming that "I'm a dead man" are fabrications.

Ailes, who last year made more than $20 million, has three years left on his contract. He is one of a handful of senior executives at News Corp. who report directly to Murdoch.

Ailes has bumped up against the Murdoch clan in the past. Several years ago, he clashed with Murdoch's eldest son, Lachlan Murdoch, over the operation of the television stations and how to handle a fight the company was having with Nielsen Media over ratings. Lachlan Murdoch has since left the company and now runs his own media investment company in Australia.

"There is nothing to the idea that I have any problem with the children," Ailes said. "The entire Murdoch family has been nothing but supportive."

Ailes confirmed that he had heard from two other Murdoch siblings -- James Murdoch, who has a senior role at News Corp., and Elisabeth Murdoch, who runs her own London-based production company -- in the last few days but declined to provide details.

Ailes said he was not expecting to talk with Freud any time soon.

"I'm obviously not going to be invited to his house . . . with him home anyway," he said.

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