Fox News Offered "Off The Record" Help To Bush Administration

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 1 2012 1:26 PM

The President of Fox News Made an Unusual Offer to Condoleezza Rice

Fox News president Roger Ailes attends the Hollywood Reporter celebration of 'The 35 Most Powerful People in Media' at the Four Season Grill Room on April 11, 2012 in New York City

Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, Gawker's John Cook recently got his hands on a handwritten note Fox News president Roger Ailes sent to Condoleezza Rice in March 2005, shortly after Rice was confirmed as George W Bush's secretary of state. On its face, it certainly doesn't make the cable news channel chief look like a model of journalist impartiality. It reads in full:

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Madam Secretary:
Great first month. You handled hearing beautifully. If I can be of help off the record—just call.
Warm Regards,

It's worth pointing out that there's no evidence to suggest that Rice did indeed take Ailes up on his offer. Rice responded with what looks to largely be a form letter, and a Fox News spokeswoman, likewise, denied that Rice ever asked for the help Ailes had offered, adding that Ailes "speaks to powerful people from the left and the right all the time" in his role as the head of a news organization.

While Ailes certainly wouldn't have been the first journalist to try to butter up a government official with kind words—many Washington reporter-source exchanges are full of that kind of "no, really, I agree with you" type of opening pleasantries before they get down to business—the letter does little to refute the perception that Fox News falls somewhat sort of its "fair and balanced" promise.

To wit, here's Cook's closing paragraph:

Please just imagine for a moment how Fox News would cover the publication of a private note from the editor of the New York Times to an Obama Administration official offering "help off the record."

Read the full Gawker post here. You can take a look at a copy of the note and Rice's response here.



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