In a recent interview with Newsmax, Elizabeth Ailes, the widow of Roger Ailes, founder of Fox News, offered her frank and unapologetic views on the current state of the network her late husband built. Elizabeth is notably disillusioned by the network’s shift in direction, specifically in the aftermath of Tucker Carlson’s dismissal and the network’s significant reforms in response to the lawsuit settlement with Dominion Voting Systems.
Opening up on her recent social media post, Elizabeth expressed her displeasure on the state of Fox News under the leadership of Rupert Murdoch and his two sons, Lachlan and James Murdoch. “It took you 20 years to build Fox News into the powerhouse that it was, and only 6 years for the Murdochs to wreak havoc,” she lamented. These potent words reveal her deep discontent with the Murdochs’ stewardship of the network following her husband’s departure.
“Rupert thought he could do your job. What a joke. He has the checkbook but could never come close to your genius,” Elizabeth continued. This scornful remark hints at the core of her frustration – the belief that the Murdochs lack the same visionary leadership that Roger Ailes brought to the network.
She asserts, “I think I caused quite a stir because for one thing I told the truth. Truth is in short supply today. As you know it did take Roger 20 years to build the channel, and he never once had his hand off the wheel.”
When the interviewer probed Elizabeth on whether she agreed that Fox has undergone a pivot toward the center or perhaps even moved to the left due to the influence of the Murdoch sons, her response was unequivocal. She suggested that Fox News is attempting to capture the audience of a network with an entirely different editorial approach – CNN. This apparent change in Fox News’ positioning is, according to Elizabeth, a result of Lachlan and James Murdoch’s misguided leadership.
“The sons, Lachlan and James, had decided they wanted Roger gone, and Roger said to me, ‘These useless kids, Tweedle-Dumb and Tweedle-Dumber, are going to ruin the channel and turn it into CNN,'” Elizabeth recounted. These harsh words reflect her strong conviction that the Murdoch brothers are squandering her husband’s legacy.
Roger Ailes’ exit from Fox News in July 2016 was a seismic event in the media landscape. He was accused of sexual harassment by several women at the network, including on-air hosts Gretchen Carlson, Megyn Kelly, and Andrea Tantaros. Following his dismissal, Rupert Murdoch defended the network’s decision, stating, “Fox News has given voice to those who were ignored by the traditional networks and has been one of the great commercial success stories of modern media.”
However, it seems clear that Elizabeth Ailes views the trajectory of Fox News under the Murdochs’ management as a stark deviation from her husband’s original vision. As the network navigates an era of significant change, the shadow of its founder, Roger Ailes, continues to loom large in the form of his widow’s biting critique. As Fox News adjusts to its new normal, one can only speculate about the network’s future direction, its audience’s response, and the legacy of its controversial founder.
While Elizabeth Ailes’ voice represents a significant part of Fox News’ history and legacy, it’s just one perspective on the network’s evolution. However, her take resonates loudly, particularly as she provides an insider’s viewpoint, someone privy to the foundational principles and strategies that launched Fox News to prominence.
Elizabeth’s recent comments have thrown the spotlight onto the many challenges facing the network, especially the delicate balance between maintaining its core viewership and expanding its appeal to a broader audience base.
Many fans of the network, who embraced its ‘fair and balanced’ slogan, might empathize with Elizabeth’s viewpoint. They’ve seen notable figures depart from the network, such as Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly, and now Tucker Carlson. These departures, coupled with the network’s alleged shift in political leanings, have left some viewers feeling uneasy.
In the case of Tucker Carlson’s departure, Elizabeth Ailes aligns it with the network’s attempts to shield itself from further scrutiny following the landmark lawsuit settlement with Dominion Voting Systems. Carlson, a provocative and polarizing figure, was often a lightning rod for criticism. His exit, though controversial, could be seen by some as a necessary step for the network to manage its image and legal complications.
However, it’s important to remember that Fox News isn’t just about personalities – it’s also about the millions of viewers who tune in daily. As it goes through these transformations, the network will need to assure its viewers that the core tenets of Fox News – the elements that attracted its loyal viewership in the first place – remain intact, even as it navigates the choppy waters of modern media and public opinion.
All in all, Elizabeth Ailes’ candid observations provide a fascinating glimpse into the complexities of running a media behemoth like Fox News. It’s a reminder that behind the headlines, the on-air personalities, and the political debates, there are real people making consequential decisions that shape the information millions of viewers consume daily.
It underscores the ever-present tension between maintaining the values that have underpinned the network’s success and the need to adapt to an evolving media landscape. The upcoming years will be crucial for Fox News, as it attempts to maintain its standing while adapting to new realities. The network’s ability to navigate these changes while staying true to its founding principles will be the real test of its resilience and longevity.