Fox News Channel President Roger Ailes insisted on Sunday that his network was no longer at war with the Obama White House and defended Fox's Glenn Beck over some of his more inflammatory statements.
Appearing for the first time on ABC's "This Week," Ailes said that Beck's often over-the-top rhetoric was politically legitimate, even if it ruffled a few feathers.
Reminded by HuffPost's Arianna Huffington that Beck has warned of "slaughter" and a "killing spree" for those not on board with the Obama administration's agenda, Ailes insisted that the reference wasn't to this president but rather to murderous dictators.
"Well, he was talking about Hitler and Stalin slaughtering people, so I think he was probably accurate," he said. "I think he speaks English, I don't know. But I don't misinterpret any of his words. He did say one unfortunate thing that he apologized for. But that happens in live television."
Ailes was wrong. Beck's reference was, indeed, to Obama. Here is the "killing spree" quote from October 2009:
Spread the wealth -- hello, Mao -- that is what this is all about. And anybody not on board, look out because you too could be the next victim of the killing spree. Is it far fetched to think that [pay] Czar [Kenneth] Feinberg could go into Walmart and argue it that it is just too important to the economy if Walmart fails? I mean it's the biggest store in the world. We feel you are being reckless in your pay structure Walmart. We have to bring the unions in to control your pay. What about Rupert Murdoch? if News Corp failed would it be harmful to the economic health of America?... Obama has repeated over and over again just how dangerous, old and unworkable our economy is.
And here is Beck warning of a possible impending "slaughter" in November 2009:
I told you yesterday, buckle up your seatbelt, America. Find the exit -- there's one here, here, and here. Find the exit closest to you and prepare for a crash landing. Because this plane is coming down, because the pilot is intentionally steering it into the trees!
Most likely, it'll happen sometime after Christmas. You're gonna see this economy come up -- we're already seeing it, and now it's gonna start coming back down again. And when you see the effects of what they're doing to the economy, remember these words: We will survive. No -- we'll do better than survive, we will thrive. As long as these people are not in control. They are taking you to a place to be slaughtered!
Lamenting what he felt was the "word police" nature of the questions being directed at him, Ailes tried to turn the tables by saying that he had been subjected to some ridicule on the pages of the Huffington Post. The remarks he cited, however, did not come from a Huffington Post employee, but were written by a blogger, longtime TV critic Bill Mann. What's more, Ailes misquoted what Mann had said about him. Mann did not, as Ailes claimed, describe him as "a malignant tumor." Here is what he wrote: "So, while Fox News, as the Times story stresses, may be a financial success story, it's also a malignant tumor on the body politic. For that you can thank Roger Ailes."
Earlier in the program, Ailes insisted that the animosity that had developed between the White House and Fox News over the programming and tenor of the cable news station was, for now, in the past.
"We're fine," he said. "It's not as bad as it was played. Things are not as good as they should be. But we have a good dialogue. And I saw the president and his wife at the media Christmas party. They were very gracious, very nice, both of them. And we have a dialogue every day with them."
Asked why Fox News cut away 20 minutes early from the question and answer session Obama held with House Republicans (which was largely seen as a big coup for the president), Ailes sidestepped the question, proclaiming, "We're the most trusted name in news."
Verbal fireworks also erupted between Ailes and another co-panelist over the Obama administration's health care plan, which the Fox executive painted as a big government takeover despite countervailing evidence (provided by the New York Times' Paul Krugman) that it was essentially the same plan adopted in Massachusetts by former Republican Governor Mitt Romney.
In the end, there was a topic that provoked agreement among the panel. The roundtable largely concurred that Obama's proposed three-year freeze on discretionary, non-military spending was more of a political gimmick than a step towards budgetary discipline.
Here is video of the exchange (the discussion of Glenn Beck starts around the 7:00 minute mark):
After the roundtable, Arianna, Krugman, and Will continued the discussion in ABC's Green Room. Watch: