For any of you who may wonder how my exchange with Roger Ailes played out: He first tried to leak some phony "dirt" on me after I made a little fun of him in a satirical column in Newsweek. I responded here. Ailes then leaked his letter to me from last week to U.S. News.
Here's the response I've written to Ailes.
If your June 7 letter had been truly private, I would have responded in private. But you leaked your phony "dirt" about me to U.S. News, which contacted me for comment. I only went public with my response when I learned of this. So you are the one responsible for bringing our exchange into the public realm.
Perhaps you did not notice, but my Watergate column was satirical. Do you believe, for instance, that there would be such a group as "Watergate Burglars for Truth"? Or that MSNBC--which apparently can take a joke better than Fox--would pose as its question-of-the-day: "Firebombing Brookings: Good Idea or Not?"
I was pleased to see that you are now distancing yourself from Richard Nixon's 1968 campaign. Perhaps Joe McGinnis can incorporate that in a new edition of "The Selling of the President."
In your letter, you lump Newsweek's recent error in with that of CBS and other news organizations and say that those problems do not exist at Fox.
I'm glad you have not been caught in any recent mistakes and--as I mentioned in my post--you employ many fine journalists. But one reason your coverage may make fewer mistakes is that you do so little of the investigative reporting of business and government that is necessary for an informed citizenry. Fox's list of scoops on matters of public importance is extremely short. Perhaps when your network does less regurgitation and repackaging of news--and more original investigative reporting--you will be a little less hasty to cast stones.
Best Wishes, Jonathan Alter