Roger Ailes, president of Fox News Channel, participates in the Hollywood Reporter celebration of "The 35 Most Powerful People in the Media" at the Four Season Grill Room on April 11, 2012 in New York City. (Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images) Roger Ailes, the founder and chairman of Fox News, was once a GOP enthusiast and media advisor to Republican presidents such as Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Now, a new documentary, "Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes," charts the rise and fall of the arbitrary and accused sexual offender. This article appeared on June 20, 1988 in The Washington Post. Occasionally, Harry Ailes thought it necessary to ask a simple question in his work as a Republican media advisor, one hundred campaigns sharper than when he started with Richard Nixon. He generally saves it for business meetings on the upper floors of Manhattan's skyscrapers, although height in itself is not the controlling factor. He also asked for it in buildings in Washington of 10 floors or less. The question is: "Can you fly?" One day he handed it over to Sen. Alfonse D & # 39; Amato when they mapped the strategy for the New York Republican re-election race of 1986. The senator had just aired his spleen with one of Ailes's employees. "Can you fly?" Asked the consultant to his well-paid customer. "Why?" Early D & # 39; Amato wondered. "Because we are 42 stories, and you go out of that window if you say another word." Today D & # 39; laughs Amato of the incident – he is finally re-elected. "Roger," he says, "can be difficult and emotional, which I like." Ailes has to ask George Bush about his aerodynamic skills. Of greater importance are the on-air capacities of the vice president, especially now that he is the designated Republican presidential candidate and his Democratic counterpart is a former television host. As Bush's senior media advisor in the race against US President Michael Dukakis – late on television from public television "The Advocates" – Ailes is responsible for the most visible element of the campaign, the most expensive and the one who can do the election very well decide . He is the guardian of the flickering image of his candidate, a job that does not allow fear of flying. "If he has a mistake that bothers me," says Ailes about his newest client, "he does not have enough personal ego." "He knows my shortcomings," says Bush, who is behind in the polls, "and he is helpful in trying to overcome them." "I like pressure situations," says Ailes. "I will not seek cover, and I will try to absorb as much heat as possible, because I think I can handle it better than most people." "He is a mature professional in a very flamboyant art," says Bush. "Not like those who come into an attitude where they always build themselves up." "I consider myself a freedom fighter and fight for my customers," says Ailes in his office at the headquarters of Bush for President, around the corner of the White House – so close and yet so far away. Chubby and balding, he seems an unlikely freedom fighter. The knot of his tie goes over his chest. A bleaching goatee is hanging on his fleshy face. He looks battered than his 48 years. He has been tested in combat for two decades in politics, a profession that he embraced after an early career in television. In 1962, after Ohio University, he started as a prop-boy in Cleveland and shot up the rows. Six years later, when he jumped to the Nixon campaign of his $ 60,000-a-year job as the Emmy-winning producer of "The Mike Douglas Show" – then one of the most popular talk shows in America – he was all 28 Nixon had seen him a few months earlier during a guest recording in & # 39; Douglas & # 39; The former vice president, who set up his second attempt at the White House, had waited in Ailes' office. "It is a shame that a man must use such gimmicks to be elected," Nixon told the young producer. "Television is not a gimmick," replied Ailes, "and if you think it is, you'll lose again." Nixon was defeated. Ailes went on to invent the commercials "Man in the Arena", a series of live television programs in which Nixon gave carefully polished answers to questions from a carefully selected panel. Nixon, a & # 39; la Ailes, glowed positively on spontaneity. The studio audience was instructed to mob him at the end. It was a pivotal moment in American politics, the creation of an industry, and Ailes was regularly celebrated in the Selling of the President, the classic campaign book by Joe McGinniss. "Now you put it on television, you immediately have a problem," Ailes McGinniss told in 1968 with the kind of brazen frankness he avoids when discussing his current client. "He is a funny looking guy, he looks like someone has hung him in a closet overnight and jumps in the morning with his suit full and starts running around and says: & # 39; I want to be president. "I mean, he's beating some people, which is why these shows are important, to make them forget everything."
Roger Ailes conducts Rose Kennedy in 1967, as can be seen in the movie "Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes." (Michael Leshnov / Magnolia Pictures) Ailes arrived on crutches for Nixon's election-telethon in California after he had discovered skydiving earlier, and directed it wrapped in bandage, his ankle in an ice bucket. "Roger did not have any tentativity that you would expect from someone who was as young as he, & # 39; McGinniss remembers today. "He was," says Leonard Garment, a comrade of the Nixon days, "the Ernest Hemingway of campaign advisors." Ailes has since grown in both size and reputation. Robert Teeter, Bush's upholsterer, compares him to Orson Welles. He calls himself "the old fox" but answers to other nuns the guerre. After a debate last December about NBC, in which Bush joked that viewers are probably bored, they switched to "Jake and the Fatman" – a line that Ailes had given him – senior assistants suddenly had nicknames for the vice president and his media -counselor . But, says Ailes, "for some reason he calls me & # 39; Jake. & # 39;" Ailes pulls into his arms as he rises from his desk to stretch a stiffened hamstring-the result of an over-zealous base during a recent softball match in the League. He is limping through the room while baffling: & # 39; The difference between pro & # 39; s and amateurs is that it hurts pro. & # 39; In the middle of the hedges he bends majestically to pull a trouser leg and shows off a gigantic bruise – his purple badge of courage. In a moment of turmoil, he compares himself with Babe Ruth. "I never want to lose, I hate to lose … But Babe Ruth struck 1300. You can not hit the hit every time you're on your way home." In a moment of introspection, he says: "You newspaper called me & # 39; fighting-like & # 39; – do you think I am? … I would appreciate it if you said somewhere that this man was most reluctant to work with someone, I never want George Bush thinks I'm doing this for some sort of personal publicity. "In fact, Ailes has just written a book on the subject of" You Are the Message: Secrets of the Master Communicators, "in which he recommends advisory topics:" Remember to be composed To stay – at all times – a reporter can provoke you with the hope that you will blow up and leak sensitive information or blow out a controversial quote … Occasionally you will encounter a reporter who seems to be on a search and destruction mission. "The main communicator or, who had admitted earlier that "there are not many situations that make me nervous", refuses to have his picture taken. "Photo editors are sadistic bastards," he says. "And photographers always make me look heavy." He can not resist adding: "Believe it or not, a lot of his muscles." "That's it! The race is over! & # 39; [The fall of Roger Ailes: He made Fox News his ‘locker room’ — and now women are telling their stories] In his youth, Ailes strove to be a fighter pilot, but could not meet the physical requirements of the Air Force. Yet he managed Bush, who flew bombers from the Second World War, safely by the occasional stormy air waves of the primary season, the candidate coordinated by seven television debates and a spectacular air fight with Dan Rather, and made commercials that have the theme "Ready on Day" sold. Someone who is a great president. "Although Ailes is well paid for its problems – $ 25,000 per month plus advertising commissions that are likely to exceed $ 1 million – there are undoubtedly easier ways to get rich." The consensus, even among the Democrats, is that Bush is lucky in the cockpit. "The most surprising thing about people like Roger is that they are the last romantics in politics," says Democratic media consultant Robert Squier, who joined Hubert Humphrey's television director in 1968. "They are very competitive, care about winning, care about who they work for, what others think about their work, and is really aware that they are involved in changing the most important political system in the world. "Since the signing last summer, Ailes has managed to convince his accusation to occasionally remove wire edges, he slows his usual breathless speed of speech – which serendipically lowers the tone of his voice – and, like Bush himself reports, "keep my eyes quiet." To do further work He is often caught grinning and scratching – live and in color, before the millions of audiences. "ABC & # 39; s & # 39; Nightline & # 39; month he continued to speak to his interviewer as & # 39; Dan & # 39 ;. It was left to Ailes, on the spot in Houston, to scribble the word & # 39; TED & # 39 ;, as in Koppel, on a piece of paper and to hang next to the camera where Bush could not miss it.Also, Ailes "lifted a little bit of hell" with Bush's senior staff because they were not consulted on the planning of appearance. "I thought it was a worthless idea," says Ailes. "He was tired." And Bush still has to be a conseque talk in well-parsed sentences. As he remarked recently: "So I think I suddenly get my hair colored, dancing up and down in a miniskirt or doing something – shows that I have a lot of jazz – drop a couple of one-liners, we're talking about running for the president of the United States. & # 39; [Roger Ailes, architect of conservative TV juggernaut Fox News, is dead at 77] "The good news," says Democratic media adviser David Sawyer, "is that George Bush takes control." The bad news is that one of the reasons he gives terrible direction is that he does not seem to have a real personality. seems to have been formed by the person he talked with in that particular time, often seeming an old, preppy, running around and saying: "Kick a little ass, gosh, jeez," and there is a dissonance – Something not synchronous, but if someone can take on that challenge, Roger Ailes can meet him. "Ailes does everything to reduce such talk. "George Bush is not a showman, but he is very sincere," he says. "Messing with who he is is stupid … One of the things you learn in this profession is what hurts and what does not hurt, and every day I receive phone calls from friends of him or my friends who say: & # 39, O my god, have you seen what he said? That's it! The race is over! "But there are peaks and valleys, good and bad days, some things that count and some things that do not count." What the alleged maneuverability of Bush, says Ailes: "A few times he told me, & # 39; Walk to hell! I am 63 years old and I will do what I want! & # 39 ;. . . But the good news is that we can say what we think and clean up the air the next morning. This is a man you can go for in the fire because he is real. "But despite all the qualities that have driven him to the vice presidency, Bush is not the smallest politician, who often tells voters more about the machine than the news of his campaign, and recently published his anti-Dukakis strategy:" I'm going to try to help him with the [liberal] fungi, shoe reading him, help him in "- thus violating the main rule that a candidate should never discuss" process "." I do not know why he's talking about that, "Ailes said a few days later when the statement was repeated for him at Ailes Communications Inc., his home office in New York's theater district." I think I have not been around enough . That is usually a signal that I have to go back to Washington. "He grinned. "I do not talk much about the process, I let him talk about the process." & # 39; KILL! & # 39; At the office of Ailes in Washington, where he has finally taken an apartment, a video cassette from Michael Dukakis is in action. Is he looking for holes in the armor? "I am looking for the armor", he answers. "I get feelings of watching television and I'm trying to find out how I feel about Mike Dukakis right now." Up to now, Ailes feels that the governor is "the kind of man who wants to know if it's time to eat." "I think Dukakis will be very tough in debates," he adds. "He knows how to bend down and evade and run words and cover up arguments and do other subtle things because of his" Predictors. "He clearly has the ability to present himself as something other than what he does. and that always creates a dangerous debater. "Ailes knows what he is talking about. In 1970 he worked for Senate candidate Robert Taft Jr. from Ohio, who opposed Government James Rhodes in the Republican Primary. Taft, the underdog despite his famous name, was laconic and distant. Rhodes was affable and empowered, by far the superior debater. But Ailes had an idea for the crucial matchup on television throughout the state. Thirty seconds before the red lights came on, Ailes walked up the stage and handed Taft a folded piece of paper. "Only use this if you need it," he whispered in fascination against his candidate. As Rhodes watched closely, Taft folded the note open, read it and grinned. When the debate got underway, viewers saw a dull Rhodes and a smiling, self-assured Taft. Rhodes never found his foot again. It was the turning point of the campaign – and Taft came from behind to win. The letter said: "KILL!" Ailes had understood at an early stage what is now commonly understood: the exchanged debates can be decided by a meaningful gesture or a flip phrase that becomes the soundbite of the evening news. That was certainly the case in the autumn of 1984, when Ronald Reagan failed in his first debate against Walter Mondale and recruited a confused representation that made him look old. Ailes, a $ 12,000 monthly consultant for the Tuesday Team & # 39; Reagan advertising group, was called in to help. In various private sessions, Ailes continued to build up the weak trust of the president, urging him to trust his instincts and not worry about details. The day before the second debate in Kansas City, Ailes asked: "What are you going to do when they say you are too old for the job?" Reagan was silent and then remembered a line from his repertoire. & # 39; Fine, & # 39; said Ailes. It was typical of Ailes that he told the president's assistants that he needed a final session only with Reagan, half an hour before the debate. "If you give me that, he'll win, and if you do not, he'll probably lose." Ailes got his half hour and Reagan got his soundbite: "I want you to know that I'm not a question of this age I'm not going to abuse the youth and inexperience of my opponent for political purposes. "Ailes writes in" You Are the Message ":" As far as I'm concerned, the debate was over. "The audience had the reassurance they were looking for. and Reagan had won the election. "In this year's primary campaign, the nemesis of the vice president, Senator Robert Dole of Kansas, led a commercial that suggested that Bush did not leave footprints in his long run of government jobs. But the footsteps of Ailes were everywhere in his combative debates. These got better reviews than his shrill showing four years ago (when he mocked Geraldine Ferraro, "Whine on, harvest moon!"), And Ailes' role last January was crucial in the confrontation with Instead. "This is a political murder that will take place," he remembers Bush in the limousine on his way to the Capitol, where the crew of the "CBS Evening News" was founding. With most accounts (Ailes will not say), he delivered his customer the famous coup de grace. "It is not fair to judge my entire career by a rehash about Iran," Bush told the CBS anchor at the climax moment. & # 39; How would you feel if I'd reviewed your career with those seven minutes when you left the set in New York? Would you like that? "It was one of the great moments in television," says Ailes about the thrust, basically a reference to an incident last January in Miami. "" If you freeze it when he asked Dan Rather that question and put his eyes in the he had long nods and his head down, like a hunter who had a hard blow, he took a right cross to the jaw that no anchorman in the history of television has ever used. " the autumn matches with Dukakis promise Ailes more of the same. & # 39; When you hit George Bush, he will turn you back. But he is not a man who is looking for a fight. "& # 39; Where to go, who's biting & # 39; Ailes himself has a personal ego enough to match his weight, he seldom hesitates to throw around, his aggressiveness goes back to his youth in Warren, Ohio, as son of a factory maintenance foreman who gave him instructions on self-defense. "Violence never solves anything," says Ailes, quoting from his stock of epigrams, "but the threat of violence can be very useful." Except of course when violence is very useful. A televised director in Cleveland took a loyal but "offensive" advertiser at the seat of his trousers, ran him through the control room and threw him from the loading dock in a pile of snow. as "a nice thing." In 1984, around the time he advised Phil Gramm's successful senate race, Ailes was checking into a hotel late at night and ended up fighting with two "butch" young men in pointedlearn. They started with it, he says, but he closed it off – jumping on one of them, turning him to the lobby floor and skillfully breaking his wrist. "My father always said to me:" If you have to take two, make one out, "Ailes says, attributing his moxie to his" blue-bloody blood "and the many nights he spent as a child in the hospital rooms – frightened and alone, the joke of schoolmates' jokes – because of a chronic illness.At the age of 13, he was sent to a YMCA camp in the wilderness of Northern Ontario, where the once-petit boy helped save two canoeists who had capsized in a storm on Lake Tenegami. "He did things to prove to himself that he could," says his older brother Robert, a doctor who helped Ailes start his consulting business in the years after Nixon "The only thing I wanted to do was earn enough money, so that I never had to live the life my father had," says Roger Robert Ailes Sr., a nice freemason, had to go to the neighbors' houses. painting at night to make ends meet, and helped the family ste unen after the divorce of Roger's mother in the late 50s. "If he had dumped our children, he'd had a chance, he had a responsible sense of responsibility that overwhelmed everything, the poor man never had a new suit, he had two pairs of shoes in the closet, one for Sunday and the other. for the rest of the week, that's a difficult way of life. "" Roger is the antithesis of preppy, "says the republican pollster Lance Tarrance, a frequent partner in campaigns. "Ailes will fight with a drop of hat Bush can think for 30 days." Ailes is unmistakably meat-and-potatoes as a maker of political commercials, despite a talent for show business, producing plays on Broadway and documentaries about such non-politicians as Federico Fellini. His style prefers ease of use over beauty, videotape over film – at its sharpest and hard-edge, visually common at worst. Many of the Bush spots let the candidate speak directly to the camera. "He is more of a message communicator than a graphic or technical director," says Tarrance. Unlike the Republican media man Robert Goodman, known among his colleagues as an artist who works on feeling, "Roger is driven by research," says political advisor Eddie Mahe. "He is more of a mechanic, but a very talented and skilled mechanic." Ailes is proud that its advertising campaigns do not have an easy-to-distinguish pattern – and indeed, rivals have a hard time describing an "Ailes formula". This makes him unpredictable. Ailes & # 39; "Bloodhound" spots for Mitch McConnell's successful 1984 senate race in Kentucky were widely credited with reversing his 30-point deficit against the established Democratic Dee Huddleston. A bloodhound bracket hung on the sites, haunting a Huddleston look, while an announcer disapproved of his absenteeism and accused him of "running away from his record." They were funny – and deadly. "Those I regret," says Ailes, "are the ones I say," I could have done more, I should have done more, "or" Gee, if I'd been thinking about it three weeks earlier. "They are the ones I play in my mind again, and they torment me." In Sen's re-election campaign. Harrison Schmitt (RN.M.) in 1982, Ailes relied on Schmitt's staff research to produce two ads that attacked the Democratic State Attorney General Jeff Bingaman. Outright condemned as inaccurate and unfair, they claimed that Bingaman "hid himself from responsibility" by "refusing to p cute" prisoners who were involved in a slaughter in prison and that he recommended guardernatorial pardon for a prisoner who had previously been on the most wanted list of the FBI. The spots explode in Schmitt's face, and may have cost him his senate seat – although he says Ailes was not a guilty party. "It was my decision to run them," says Schmitt, now a businessman from Albuquerque. "We were behind, and we had to do something." Ailes has learned from defeats. After his candidate Lew Lehrman spent $ 12 million against Mario Cuomo's $ 2 million to lose the 1982 New York governor's race – in no small measure, because Lehrman's exorbitant time-buying operation "death sentences in" The Muppet Show " "Ailes remembers – he swore to take control of media purchases in all his future campaigns. Indeed, he hired the buyer of Cuomo, Catherine Farrell, and today owns two-thirds of Farrell Media, who places the ads of Bush. After Bush's almost fatal loss to Dole in Iowa last February, it was Ailes who hurried to New Hampshire and, despite pneumonia, was three nights sleepless to whip up a half-hour TV show: "Ask George Bush" ( "Man in the Arena" redux ", a five-minute endorsement spot with Barry Goldwater and a negative advertisement that implies that Dole would raise taxes, push Bush to approve the spot and then get him for the first time at the weekend When all television stations had officially closed their tree trunks, at one point he placed Bush on the phone with a Boston station manager to thank him for his help – all in all it was a decisive achievement, without which Bush New Hampshire might had lost – and kissed the nomination goodbye. "He is like a pit bull, without fear," says Robert Ailes. "Tell him where to go and who to bite – and he is on him." Yet, his second wife Norma says,Ailes is also the kind of man who crawls out of bed to sleep on the floor with a sick dog. "After 11 years, I will never be bored with this man," she says. And he is the kind of man, says his first wife Marge, who can stay friendly with an ex. Others claim to see a vengeful side – as when he worked for Rep. Bob McEwen's failed US Senate campaign, declaring that he was doing less than his usual compensation. Ailes had hoped to place ads for the Republican front-runner, Cleveland Mayor George Voinovich, and was angry that Voinovich, who had hired Bob Goodman, never gave him the chance. "I would not know George Voinovich if he hit me with a banjo," says Ailes today. He "absolutely considers every campaign a complete war," says media advisor Greg Stevens, who recently opened the Washington office of Ailes Communications after making spotlights for Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), Including several attacking Bush. Indeed, the prospect of working against Ailes, says Ken Swope, advisor of Dukakis, "makes me look worried." "For me it is personal chemistry," says the vice president. "I just love him." In the meantime, Ailes suggests that Bush is a candidate who can fly. "You are studying a man with that war record," he says. "Twenty years old and your wings are on fire and you're trying to decide whether to complete the mission – there's something in it that says: if it hits the fan, you do what you have to do." George is more difficult many people suspect. "Read more about Retropolis: Gary Hart's trap: How The Washington Post covered the case that derailed its presidential bid Sex, silent money and a supposed poisoning: Before Trump and Stormy Daniels, a wild presidium secret letters from a president to another woman he never wanted to be public The thin-skinned president who made it illegal to criticize his office Trump says he is not taking a vacation. They could not interest the Teddy Roosevelts anyway. How Harry S. Truman went from a racist to desegregating the army. Move over, Trump. The two lions of this president started the debate about the greatest emoluments. How not because father made George Washington the father of his country