Roger E Ailes

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Roger Eugene Ailes was the chairman of Fox News Channel and the Chairman of Fox Television Stations. For many years he was also the principle of Ailes Communications which provided strategic political advice to the combined Task Force of the tobacco industry in its attack on the Environmental Protection Agency. He also worked at the top strategic advice level for three Republican presidents: Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George HW Bush. He probably played a substantial part in the campaign of George 'Dubya' Bush.

Career In PR & Politics

Ailes began his career in television as a production assistant at Cleveland's KYW-TV, the station that launched the Mike Douglas Show, a popular daytime talk and variety show of the 1960s. At age 28, Ailes became the show's producer. He met Richard Nixon for the first time when Nixon appeared as a guest on the Douglas show, beginning the relationship that led to Ailes' hiring as a media consultant for Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign.[1]

Ailes founded Roger Ailes & Associates which later became Ailes Communications in New York which he owned between 1970 and 1992. The company is described in his biographical note accompanying tesimony to the Energy and Commerce Committee as "a diversified communications consulting company whose clients included three U.S. Presidents, several senators and governors, as well as Fortune 500 CEO's". It was, in fact, mainly a political strategy party for commercial interests. [1]

Ailes political work has included:

Working For Big Tobacco

When a coalition of tobacco-control groups, Coalition for a Healthy California promoted Proposition 99 which proposed a 25 cents a pack increase in tobacco tax, Ailes was called on in July 1988 to oversee what was to be a $20 million campaign for the tobacco industry. Californians Against Unfair Tax Increases (CAUTI) was overwhelmingly underwritten by Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds. [2]

The Ailes/tobacco industry strategy was to promote claims that the tax increase was unfair and unnecessary government interference; that rich doctors would be the beneficiaries; and that high taxes would encourage increased smuggling and place additional demands on police. Ailes Communications earned just over $1,000,000 in commission on this one campaign. [3]

Despite Ailes' best efforts, the tobacco industry was defeated. "Although we were not successful, the CAUTI campaign moved an extremely large number of voters to our position. While some television spots were more persuasive than others, the campaign never appeared to make much headway with the large number of people who are extremely anti-smoking," Ailes Communications final report stated. [4]

In the aftermath of anti-tobacco victories in California and other states, the following year politicians began unveiling proposals to further restrict tobacco industry promotion and costs. "The anti-smoking zealots tried first to throw water in everybody's face … now they're throwing legislation," Ailes told one reporter. [5]

Acoording to his biographical profile given to the Energy and Commerce Committee in 1992, Ailes "retired completely from political and corporate consulting to return full-time to television". [6]

Internal Philip Morris documents, however, reveal Ailes advised the company until at least 1994. A memo from PM's Washington office to head office providing an outline of supplementary monthly budget expenditures on consultants, listed "Roger Ailes contract" with a figure of $15,000 under the heading "general media strategy". [7]

In May 1993, Philip Morris's top disinformation executive Craig Fuller sent a memo, titled "Firing Line show on Sin Taxes", to his colleagues. "I think we should look into this. Roger Ailes and I have talked about running ads with a coalition we will form ... one name "Coalition for Fair Funding of Health Care." We might get the group … with whatever name … to help fund the show. It is definitely worth thinking about and looking at more closely". (PM is the 'we' referred to in the note). [8] (See Americans for Tax Reform and Defeating Clinton's Healthcare Plan for more details on the PM campaign to defeat proposals to fund an expanded health care plan with an increase in the tobacco excise rate.)

A few weeks later the Vice President of Philip Morris USA Corporate Affairs, Ellen Merlo, sent a letter to Ailes informing him of the results of some market research on smoking. "Suffice it to say the percentages of those embarrassed about smoking and the militant antis are shifting very rapidly, so that we are losing support," she glumly reported.[9]

Internal Philip Morris documents reveal that Ailes' work for Philip Morris continued until at least the end of June 1994. A June 1994 e-mail to Craig Fuller canvassing possible speakers for a meeting the following month, Thomas Collamore wrote suggesting "(some possibilities: Roger Ailes who we pay 5k a month to be available;" before suggesting other possibilities.[10]

Ailes role in the media industry includes:

  • in 1991 persuading "a syndicator to bring Rush Limbaugh from radio to television. He also became executive producer of the late-night show";
  • In 1993 was appointed President of NBC's cable channel CNBC;
  • introduced NBC cable channel, 'America's Talking' in 1994;
  • in January 1996 he was appointed as chief executive officer of Fox News and the FOX News Channel and, according to his biographical note, "also serves as a senior advisor to Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of the News Corporation Limited".

Roger Ailes - Political, media and commercial intermingling
DateMedia & PoliticalLobbying and PR Business
1962Property Assistant at KYW-TV
1965Producer at KYW-TV
1967-68Executive Producer at on the local Mike Douglas Show made at KYW-TV
1968Media advisor/Exec. Producer for TV, to Richard Nixon's campaign.
1967-68Advisor to Presidential Campaign of Richard Nixon.
1968Executive Producer on syndicated national Mike Douglas Show
Met Richard Nixon. Began advising him re image.
1970-92 Ran Roger Ailes & Associates Communications. Nixon was one client.
1981 Helping run Reagan campaign with Craig Fuller. "As the vice president's chief of staff, Fuller became part of the so-called Group of Six—the others were Brady, Atwater, Teeter, Roger Ailes and Robert Mosbacher— who met regularly to coordinate VP Bush's official -duties-with his political agenda.
1983 Handled Westchester County Executive Andrew O'Rourke's campaign media
1984 FebMedia campaign advisor to Senator James AbdnorTapping the tobacco industry for funds
1984 Media Consultant to Ronald Reagan
He says that he was almost full-time on Reagan's media campaign.
Doing TV and Radio ads for candidates (Sept)
1985 JanMedia Advisor to Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
1986Media advisor on Senate campaigns of GOP Sens .Phil Gramm of Texas and Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire.
1987-88 Roger Ailes and Lee Altwarer are credited with guiding George HW Bush's successful victory over Michael Dukakis.
1987 DecNew York firm Ailes Communications heading media efforts for Senator John Danford
1988Working on George HW Bush Presidential Campaign as Media Director who "spear-headed" the campaign. He is credited along with Lee Atwater, Craig Fuller and Roger Ailes, "whose strategies to elect George Bush were simple, obvious and effective."[11]Apr: Also fighting 20c tax increase on cigarettes (in Colorado) and California (CAUTI - Prop 99) as media director. [12]This was a $1.665 million campaign.[13]
Hired by Canadian cig. industry to fight ad ban -- lost heavily.
Credited with crucifying Michael Dukakis in Presidential race and portraying George Bush as more-patriotic-than-thou.
1988 June-JulyAiles is vocally promoting negative advertising in politics Ailes hired by a coalition of tobacco companies to fight against a proposed 25c/pack tobacco excise increase in California. Californians Against Unfair Tax Increases (CAUTI) was underwritten by Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds. He earned just over $1 million in commissions from this campaign. [14] [15]
1989Attending all the Tobacco Institute meetings
Running the media for Rudolph Giuliani' New York mayoral campaign,
1990Tobacco (RJR) decide they can't use him in the Colorado battle, he is too exposed.
1991Bringing Rush Limbaugh from radio to TV
Running Senate election campaign for Richard Thornburgh (he lost)
1992 His biog says he retired from political and corporate consulting to concentrate full-time on TV. However he was the behind-the-scene speechwriter for both Ronald and Nancy Reagan at GOP convention. Says he didn't work for the Bush re-election campaign against Clinton.
1993 President of CNBC (cable channel of NBC)Apr: Advising the Tobacco Industry Task Force (PM/RJR) to run advertising campaign via "Coalition for Fair Funding of Health Care."(Later CAUTI)
1993 MarPresident of CNBC (cable channel of NBC)Holding meeting with Tobacco Task Force in New York. His job was to focus on Federal Excise Tax on Cigs. problem. [16]
1994Introduced "America's Talking to NBC June: Philip Morris pays him $5,000/month "to be available". [17]
1995He is now Executive Producer to Rush Limbaugh Show for Multimedia EntertainmentOccasional advisor to Rupert Murdoch
1996 FebFormer CNBC president Roger Ailes to head an all-news television network Chairman of Fox News/ChannelSenior advisor to Rupert Murdoch
1996 Oct 7Ailes took over as the founding CEO of Fox News
1997 AugAiles role with the tobacco industry is beginning to be expose via depositions in major court cases.
2005 AugEldest son, Lachlan Murdoch left News Ltd. Ailes became Chairman of Fox TV Station Group. Geoffrey Bible, ex CEO and Chairman of Philip Morris and "best friend" of Rupert, was bought in to train second son James to head the empire.
2011 June Rolling Stone expose
2012-16Murdoch renewed his contract for 4 years. His reported earnings for 2016 were $21 million, inclusive of bonuses.
2016-18Continued as a adviser to Murdoch and 21st Century Fox
2016 July 21 Resigned from Fox News and TV Station group (with $40 million exit payment) over sexual harassment charges
Became an adviser to Donald Trump's Presidential campaign. br>Sept: Fox announced that it had settled a second sexual harrassment claim ($20 million) and possibly made payoffs to two other threatened litigants.

Some material from Wikipedia.

Articles and resources


  1. Museum of Broadcast Communications Roger Ailes, accessed October 23, 2009

Related SourceWatch articles

External resources

External articles

By Roger Ailes

Articles & Commentary about Ailes

2005 to present
Before 2005

Documents from UCSF tobacco archives

Wikipedia also has an article on Roger E Ailes. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.