The Roger Ailes I Knew

For six years in the 1980s, I was Roger’s right-hand man. He was on top of the world, and still saw himself as an underdog.

Born with hemophilia, he knew early that any episodes of bleeding could kill him. That, coupled with an abusive father and blue-collar poverty in Warren, Ohio, helped create the complicated, larger than life survivor figure who combatively viewed the world as “us versus them” and “real people” against the “elites.”

 .. Nobody dared to talk to them like Ailes—part Don Rickles, part psychiatrist and part motivational football coach. In meetings, commercial shoots and debate prep sessions, Roger would profanely insult the performance and physical appearance of his clients, just to get things rolling: “Even your wife would change the channel, the audience would be bored to tears—and by the way, your fly is down … ” (only said far more colorfully and explicitly).
.. When one incumbent Republican senator refused to approve attack ads against his opponent, Ailes had me prepare a brutal spot attacking our own client, showing him what the other side was preparing to do to him over his record of drunk driving. After seeing his future, the shaken senator quietly approved our ads and won a narrow reelection.
.. Roger hated to lose at anything, whether it was politics, office Ping-Pong or television awards.
.. If you want to understand his genius .. Look at the low-rent, middlebrow, highly rated “Mike Douglas Show,” which Ailes produced in the mid-to-late 1960s. Every episode required Ailes to make hundreds of creative decisions ..