Report: Roger Ailes Started Planning Fox News While Working for Nixon

At one point, the Fox News mastermind was even picking out the president's ties

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Long before he led the Fox News empire from within his upstate New York compound, Roger Ailes worked for Richard Nixon. It was with the Nixon White House that Ailes began sketching the blueprints for what would become the right-wing answer the liberal media bias, a project that Ailes would revisit while consulting for the George H.W. Bush administration. Supported by a 318-page cache of documents obtained from the Nixon and Bush's respective Presidential Libraries, Gawker's John Cook makes the case the Ailes's "fair and balanced" network comes from the same skeazy political scheming that lead to the Watergate scandal. Cook detailed some of the highlights in a sprawling report on Gawker and has also posted the Ailes documents for public consumption. Highlights include:

  • "A Plan for Putting the GOP on TV News," the 41-year-old memo that Cook says was a lynchpin in a "nakedly partisan 1970 plot by Ailes and other Nixon aides to circumvent the 'prejudices of network news' and deliver 'pro-administration' stories to heartland television viewers."
  • Detailed accounts of Ailes's day-to-day activities while working for the White House. Cooks says, "[Ailes] reveled in the minutiae constructing political spectacles—stage-managing, for instance, the lighting of the White House Christmas tree with painstaking care…" There's a drawing included and instructions for Nixon not to let a six-year-old boy get credit for lighting the tree.
  • A note from Watergate felon and Nixon chief-of-staff H.R. Haldeman promoting a Ailes' idea for the president to host live Q&A sessions in high schools and colleges. You might remember that when Barack Obama did this recently, Fox News called it a ploy to "indoctrinate children to support him politically."

Read the report in full here.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.