Get ready for a big surprise.
Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes did not hire Sarah Palin as an on-air commentator because of her lacerating wit or insight into domestic and foreign affairs.
“I hired Sarah Palin because she was hot and got ratings,” Ailes, 71, said of the former vice presidential candidate in an interview with the Huffington Post published Wednesday.
The influential Republican, who gave a wide-ranging interview on the occasion of his cable news channel’s 15th birthday, denied that Fox, which he founded, exhibited political bias. Then he unleashed a variety of amusing salvos in a wide-ranging interview with television writer Frazier Moore.
Ailes strafed network competitors by saying he hadn’t counted on them “screwing up as much,” which helped him win ratings battles. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, he sniffed, “is an excellent reporter, but he’s not a star.”
He also shot down any connection to his operation and the hacking scandals that have tormented Fox News’ parent company, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. “It’s not a Fox issue,” Ailes said. “I don’t discuss it with Rupert.”
The blunt and bombastic septuagenarian revealed that when his contract expires in 2013 he may enjoy an encore performance in America’s national pastime. He has always, he said, wanted to buy the Cleveland Indians. Of course, “the politically correct crowd” would clamor for him to change the team’s name. “They’d be all over my ass because I bought the Indians!” he said.
But Ailes assured Moore that the passing of years has taught him to conserve his pugilistic impulses for battles truly worth waging: “I don’t rise to the occasion when there’s no occasion,” he said.