Bonus Whopper: Roger Ailes.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Nov. 16 2002 10:33 AM

Bonus Whopper: Fox News

Roger Ailes has been moonlighting.

"We report, you decide."
-- Fox News Channel slogan.

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"Roger E. Ailes, a media coach for Bush's father and now chairman of the Fox News Channel, sent a confidential communication to the White House in the weeks after the terrorist attacks. [Chief political aide Karl] Rove took the Ailes communication to the president. 'His back-channel message: The American public would tolerate waiting and would be patient, but only as long as they were convinced that Bush was using the harshest measures possible,' Woodward wrote. He added that Ailes, who has angrily challenged reports that his news channel has a conservative bias, added a warning: 'Support would dissipate if the public did not see Bush acting harshly.'"
--Washington Post news story summarizing scoops in Bob Woodward's new book, Bush At War.

[Update, Nov. 18: Here's the relevant passage, from page 207 of Woodward's book:

"Rove also kept in touch with the party apparatus and leading conservatives. One important-looking confidential communication came in to Rove from one of Bush's senior friends, so Bush took it to the Oval Office.

"Roger Ailes, former media guru for Bush's father, had a message, Rove told the president. It had to be confidential because Ailes, a flamboyant and irreverent media executive, was currently the head of FOX News, the conservative-leaning television cable network that was enjoying high ratings. In that position, Ailes was not supposed to be giving political advice. His back-channel message: The American public would tolerate waiting and would be patient, but only as long as they were convinced that Bush was using the harshest measures possible. Support would dissipate if the public did not see Bush acting harshly."]

Got a whopper? Send it to chatterbox@slate.com. To be considered, an entry must be an unambiguously false statement paired with an unambiguous refutation, and both must be derived from some appropriately reliable public source. Preference will be given to newspapers and other documents that Chatterbox can link to online.

Whopper Archive:
Nov. 15, 2002: Manhattan's 92nd Street Y
Nov. 8, 2002: William Webster
Nov. 1, 2002: Harvey Pitt
Oct. 25, 2002: George W. Bush
Oct. 18, 2002: North Korea
Oct. 11, 2002: Michael Bloomberg
Sept. 27, 2002: Rep. Tom Tancredo
Sept. 13, 2002: Al-Muhajiroun
Sept. 6, 2002: National Republican Congressional Committee
Aug. 29, 2002: Eddie Joe Lloyd
Aug. 22, 2002: Larry Klayman
Aug. 2, 2002: Al Gore
July 26, 2002: Princeton admissions dean Stephen LeMenager
July 19, 2002: James Traficant
July 12, 2002: Maryland Lt. Gov. candidate Michael S. Steele
July 5, 2002: Hesham Mohamed Hadayet
June 28, 2002: WorldCom
June 21, 2002: Terry Lynn Barton
June 14, 2002: Tom Ridge
June 7, 2002: Former FBI Deputy Director Weldon Kennedy
May 31, 2002: Ari Fleischer
May 23, 2002: Condoleezza Rice
May 17, 2002: Robert Mueller
May 9, 2002: Karl Rove
May 3, 2002: Gen. Richard Myers
April 25, 2002: Donald Rumsfeld
April 18, 2002: George W. Bush  
April 11, 2002: The Rev. Robert J. Banks, archdiocese of Boston
April 5, 2002: George W. Bush  
March 29, 2002: Major League Baseball
March 21, 2002: Billy Graham
March 14, 2002: INS commissioner James W. Ziglar
March 8, 2002: Robert Zoellick and the U.S. steel industry
Feb. 28, 2002: Al Sharpton
Feb. 22, 2002: Olympic skating judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne
Feb. 14, 2002: Kenneth Lay
Feb. 8, 2002: Enron spokeswoman Peggy Mahoney
Jan. 31, 2002: Monsanto
Jan. 24, 2002: Linda Chavez
Jan. 17, 2002: George W. Bush
Jan. 10, 2002: Simon & Schuster
Jan. 4, 2002: The Associated Press

(Click  here  to access the Whopper Archive for 2001.)

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.