Fox News chief Roger Ailes met with every single Republican candidate for president, because, "You can’t run for the Republican nomination without talking to Roger," a Republican told New York's Gabriel Sherman in May. Now we have a little insight into what Ailes might have told them. On Monday, The Daily Beast posted Howard Kurtz's profile of Ailes--and his "course correction" dialing back the conservatism of the network--and it details the little tips the executive offered each one.
Mitt Romney: Loosen Up
Kurtz reports that when Ailes and Romney had a "pasta dinner" together, Ailes was surprised that the former Massachusetts governor was actually funny. "You ought to be looser on the air," Ailes told him. The Fox chief also rejects the idea that Romney is a weak frontrunner, because "'weak' is a word the mainstream press will give to all Republicans always, as a precursor to killing them off."
Rick Perry: Money is coming; beware the MSM
A few months ago, Perry visited Ailes at his office in Manhattan, Kurtz reports. He hadn't decided whether to run for president yet. "Money will find you if people believe in your message," Ailes told him. And Ailes offered Perry a bit more advice through Kurtz: Beware the mainstream media. "They will set a trap for him and ask him who's the leader of Uzbekistan and run with that for a week."
Tim Pawlenty: Thanks, but no thanks
A few weeks after dropping out of the presidential race in mid-August, Pawlenty phoned Ailes looking for a gig as a commentator on Fox News, Kurtz reports. But Ailes said no, because Pawlenty was about to endorse Romney. "I'm not sure I want to sign you as a paid spokesman for Romney," Ailes told him.
Chris Christie: Run
After Sherman reported that Ailes met with Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey--who many conservatives hope will still jump into the 2012 race--Gawker's John Cook
demanded Christie release his correspondence with Ailes, and sued when he wouldn't. All the governor's office eventually released was confirmation that Christie and Ailes had a two-hour dinner
in Manhattan on September 11, 2010. Sherman reported they spoke about pension reform and "getting tough with the unions."
David Petraeus: Run
Sherman reported that Ailes wanted the popular general to run against President Obama. Petraeus said no; he chose to head the CIA instead.
Sherman's reporting offers some clues as to why Ailes hands out so much advice:
[A Republican said,] "Every single candidate has consulted with Roger." But he hasn’t found any of them, including the adults in the room -- Jon Huntsman, Mitch Daniels, Mitt Romney -- compelling. "He finds flaws in every one," says a person familiar with his thinking.
"He thinks things are going in a bad direction," another Republican close to Ailes told me. "Roger is worried about the future of the country. He thinks the election of Obama is a disaster. He thinks Palin is an idiot. He thinks she's stupid. He helped boost her up. People like Sarah Palin haven't elevated the conservative movement."