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Fox News CEO Ailes returns to talk bias, business of media
Ohio University event organizers’ reluctance to discuss the political bias of Roger Ailes, Fox News chairman and CEO, did not deter such questions at Monday’s George Washington Forum.
The forum, held in Baker University Center Ballroom, was moderated by Scripps Howard Visiting Professional Andy Alexander, who set the political precedence for the night after asking Ailes whether he was a conservative.
“I’m more conservative than you are,” Ailes said to the crowd of about 200. “I’m more conservative because there are more issues I’m conservative on. As you know, those labels are traps.”
Ailes defended his network, saying he was not politically biased compared with competitors MSNBC and CNN. Ailes said he employs 24 “liberals,” which distinguishes him from those networks who feature fewer dissenting opinions.
He also spoke about the importance of freedom of the press and its benefits to the U.S.
“My one wish for OU is to continue to be a place for open debate for people with different points of view where they can meet and discuss these things openly,” Ailes said. “There will be no progress and America won’t survive if you don’t have that kind of open debate.”
Allison Arnold, communications chair for the OU College Republicans, said it is important to have accomplished alumni come back to Athens.
“I think it’s great to hear from people who are a part of our Bobcat network,” Arnold said. “It can really benefit students.”
Ailes graduated from OU in 1962, serving as a WOUB student manager for two years during his schooling.
“I’m coming away having a different understanding of how he has accomplished what he’s done as a businessman,” said David Prince, professor emeritus. “He’s a businessman first, second and third.”
When Ailes’ involvement with Richard Nixon’s political party was mentioned, he said he didn’t consider it managing the party and that it had not affected his managing style or network.
Though Ailes continued to defend against claims that Fox News Channel is biased, some students said they still think that the network is more conservative than Ailes suggested.
“I think there are definitely certain news organizations that present these as unbiased and truth-telling news organizations, and there can be a flaw in that,” said Marika Bresler, vice president of OU College Democrats. “Other citizens may not understand that there’s a political slant that comes with that kind of news.”
— Brandon Carte contributed to this report.