On Tuesday night’s edition of The Ed Show on MSNBC, substitute host Thomas Roberts promoted an upcoming segment: “He is convinced that al-Qaeda is out to get him. And he believes gay activists want to fire bomb his office. Who are we talking about? The delusional world of Roger Ailes, coming up.”
Roberts is shameless. He’s sitting on the same show where Ed Schultz spun delusions like “The Republicans... want to see you dead,” and they like it when women get incurable cancer. But Roberts was spreading stories from Rolling Stone writer Tim Dickinson, and interviewed him at the end of the Tuesday show.
The source for the Ailes-paranoia story is a man named Dan Cooper, part of a team that started up Fox News. Cooper is full of colorful anti-Ailes quotes in Rolling Stone. “What’s fun for Roger is the destruction,” Cooper told Dickinson. Cooper also said Ailes created an in-house research unit called the “brain room,” and “The brain room is where Willie Horton comes from...It’s where the evil resides.” That’s how MSNBC picked up its “delusional world of Ailes” talking points:
ROBERTS: Tim, I want to get straight to it, though. Why is Ailes convinced that he is the target of these groups, basically gay terrorists and al-Qaeda?
TIM DICKINSON: I can't get too deeply into Roger Ailes’ head. I don't know what underlies these preoccupations of his. But you hear them from multiple different sources. And they seem to be true. He surrounds himself by -- traveling with him apparently is like an episode of "24." He’s got this big black SUV and guys who deliver the package from the car to the office headquarters.
Dickinson couldn’t get into Roger’s head? But the entire article attempts to do that. Surprisingly, Dickinson wanted to back away from his “juicier details” (perhaps they’re not as verified as he would like?), and focus on the Big Picture theory that Ailes is a liar when he claims he stopped being a politico:
DICKINSON: But I think we can get distracted by some of these juicier details from sort of the broader sweep of Ailes' life, which goes straight from Nixon through Reagan through the first Bush and then he sort of goes underground.
DICKINSON: And is working for Big Tobacco, trying to take down Hillarycare. And then right into fox news. Roger Ailes has always said that he has had a break between his two lives, his life as a politico and his life as a broadcast executive. And I think the main takeaway from my piece is that that is a fiction. And it's a lie that he has told to the American people. He`s told it to Congress. But there is this dramatic through line where everything he wanted to do as an operative with Richard Nixon in 1968 he is now doing now 24/7 on his political network.
Roberts, the openly gay anchor at MSNBC, also insisted that Ailes has a network full of gay anchors and staffers, which apparently proves that either Ailes has a weird sense of gay paranoia -- or the whole anecdote is extremely shaky:
ROBERTS: Speaking of that network, I can't speak to al Qaeda, but I can speak to the gays. I know they're in his newsroom and they're on his air. So I'll just say that. But anyway, you`re right that Fox News stands as the culmination of everything Ailes tried to do for his old boss Richard Nixon, who you brought up. Is his ultimate goal to destroy President Obama? And does he believe that he can actually achieve that goal?
DICKINSON: I think Roger Ailes, if you pumped him full of sodium pentothal, he is a God-and-country guy. So I think he views it as he is trying to save the country from Barack Obama. If you talk to the White House, they`ll tell you that in their conversations with him, he`s bringing up -- as sort of the demented view of Fox -- of the administration that you get on Fox News is Roger Ailes` view, that the darker interpretations of what the Obama administration is doing, he believes those.
Those aren't contrived in his mind. So he views himself as sort of someone who is trying to save America from this terrible president. I think he thinks he can do it. I think he really -- it's under-appreciated, but Fox has this sort of whip function with the GOP. And he can -- when you have this 24/7 megaphone, you can really bring people into line and help shape the agenda in a very powerful way, raise money for candidates, get people elected. Look at John Kasich, the former Fox News host who is now the union-busting governor of Ohio.
ROBERTS: Yes, no. Exactly. that's a great point, because he really is the first candidate of the Fox News Party, the new governor of Ohio. But voters want a do-over in Ohio. But none of the Fox News pundits that Ailes recruited are polling very well against Obama right now. Do you think viewers can catch on to the Ailes strategy here?
DICKINSON: You know, I think if Huckabee had entered the race, it would have changed the situation dramatically. So I think the strategy there -- he gave Huckabee a show as sort of a throw-away, according to my sourcing. And Huckabee really took to it and enjoyed it, and has sort of taken to the life of a TV star rather than a political candidate. But if Huckabee had joined the race, we'd be having a very different conversation. And Sarah Palin is still the elephant in the wings.