Roger Ailes Says Young People Are "Historically Illiterate"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 13 2013 9:45 AM

"Anti-Americanism Needs to Be Answered": Roger Ailes Gets Serious

155854457
President of Fox News Channel Roger Ailes and Fox Business Network anchor Melissa Francis attend Francis' book launch party on November 8, 2012 in New York City.

Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Weinstein Books

Last night I joined a few hundred conservatives and a smattering of reporters to watch the 10th annual Bradley Prizes ceremony—the latest dispersion of $1 million to four intellectuals who'd done the movement right, offered by the deep-pocketed Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. This year's recipients, $250,000 each, were Yuval Levin, Paul Clement (who joked about "the victory in the health care case" that the media gave him then took away), Mitch Daniels, and Fox News founder Roger Ailes.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Ailes, by general agreement, was the show-stopper. He started onstage slowly, waving off a tuxedo'd attendant who offered to help him, and announced he was giving the prize to "charity for seniors." He then unfolded a speech that, at first, consisted of corny jokes. "Behind every successful man is a surprised wife," he joked, beginning a round of jokes about the sexes.

"A woman didn't come home* one night and when she got home she told her husband she'd stayed over at a friend's house," said Ailes. "Her husband called her ten best friends. Nine out of 10 knew nothing about it, and one said, yes, in fact, she'd been there for the night. A man didn't come home one night. The next morning, he told his wife he'd slept over at a friend's house. The woman called his 10 best friends. Eight said he'd been there. One said he'd just left. One said he was still in the shower."

Advertisement

That was the silly part. Soon Ailes got to the real-talk portion of his text, delivering it with flashes of real passion. When he finished, some Fox News employees in the room, like White House correspondent Ed Henry, gave him a standing ovation. The remarks are below.

My remarks tonight are my own. They don't necessarily reflect the views of News Corp, Rupert Murdoch, or Fox. I will say, however, that I didn't give up my citizenship to run a news organization. So I speak here on the highest authority and greatest title anyone could aspire to: Citizen of the United States.
We must stop waving our extended arms in an effort to balance ourselves as we tiptope along the edges of the Constitution in an effort not to upset weak-kneed appeasers with our belief in the ideas and principles that made our country different, and yes, better. Are we losing our country to the inevitable unrushing ties of history? No. But we're in a storm. The mast has broken. The compass is off. And there's a big damn hole in the boat.
We have allowed ourselves to be manipulated by others, many of whom want to impose their culture and laws under the manufactured utopian idea that all cultures are equal, and most are better than Americans. Of course more people should be proud of their heritage. They should teach their children to be proud of their history, and their traditions. And they should be welcomed in America. But America is a culture. It has a culture. And it must be recognized.
America is losing its historical literacy. Recently, 556 seniors were surveyed in 55 of the nation's top colleges. Only 60 percent placed the American Civil War in the second half of the 19th century. Only 34 percent identified George Washington as the American general at the battle of Yorktown; 34 percent thought it was U.S. Grant. Seventy-eight percent of the institutions polled, no history whatsoever was required in the undergraduate program. Historian David McCullough said, we are raising a generation of young Americans who are historically illiterate.
If the hole in the boat is to be fixed, it will require the tenacity and the ingenuity of the founders. Each of us must take the time to teach the journey of liberty and justice. We must not allow our collective memory to fade, or morph into trendy revisionist versions of political correctness which becomes a substitute for the truth. Traditional American culture influenced us when we created the Fox News channel for Rupert Murdoch. We know that a fair and balanced news channel could succeed as long as no views were rejected and conservative views were allowed to be heard.
The Fox News channel just finished its 137th consecutive month in first place in cable news. The top 13 programs in cable news are all on the Fox News channel. One reason is, we cover the news. But we also cover stories that we know others will not like, like the abortion doctor in Philadelphia who was actually killing babies after they were born. We covered Benghazi when four Americans were killed, even though no other network would touch the story. It's important because it involves over 200 years of military ideals. You see, if we ask you to go out in the night, and risk your life for America, we promise we will backstop you and try to get you out of it as far as humanly possible. In Benghazi we did not do that. I've come to the conclusion I don't really care what the President of the United States was doing that night. However, I would like to know what the commander-in-chief was doing that night.
A few other hot news topics these days include the IRS. The federal government is about to hire 16,000 more IRS agents to enforce health care. Forty-seven new tax increases! No wonder they need guns! We already know the IRS is arrogant. They waste as much money as other government agencies. They enjoy pushing people around. And they can't line dance! We don't need 16,000 more people who can't line dance. And we don't need more people with guns enforcing our health care! Hi, granny, get your hands up, we're tired of telling you this, but take your Metamucil.
Of course the government is split and the Republicans and the Democrats can't seem to get along. I heard a story about a guy who was in a hot air balloon. He was lost. He lost altitude on the balloon; he spotted a man down below. He descended and called out to him. He said, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend an hour ago and I don't know where I am."
The man on the ground consulted his GPS, and he said "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet off the ground. Elevation approximately 2146 feet above sea level. You're at 31 degrees four minutes north latitute, 109 degrees four minutes west longitude."
The guy in the balloon said, "You must be a conservative!"
He said, "I am, how did you know that?"
He said, "Well, everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information. In fact, I'm still lost. You haven't been very much help so far."
The guy on the ground said, "You must be a liberal. You don't know where you're going or where you've been. You got to where you are on hot air. You made promises which you have no idea how to keep. You expect me to solve your problems. The fact is, you're in the same place you were before we met -- and now it's my fault!"
Regardless of your political party, here are some things we should all agree on. Government must reinforce the value of the individual and life. Government must have policies that help individual independence flourish and not reinforce dependency. Votes must not be purchased by corrupt organizations or individuals on false, vicious. Freedom cannot be compromised anywhere. Anti-Americanism needs to be answered in every place, every time, by each one of us.
I mentioned earlier that American culture is unique and must be included in the whole discussion. It is America that has fed and freed more people than all other countries on earth. You know how I know this is a great country? Because everybody's trying to get in, and nobody's trying to get out.

Correction, June 13, 2013: This post originally said Ailes' joke was about a woman who didn't "come over" one night.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Do the Celebrities Whose Nude Photos Were Stolen Have a Case Against Apple?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 3:19 PM In Defense of Congress Leaving Town Without a New War Vote
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 18 2014 3:31 PM What Europe Would Look Like If All the Separatist Movements Got Their Way
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 3:24 PM Symantec Removes Its “Sexual Orientation” Filter
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 3:30 PM How Crisis Pregnancy Centers Trick Women
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Culturebox
Sept. 18 2014 4:00 PM When The Cosby Show Got “Very Special” Why were The Cosby Show’s Very Special Episodes so much better than every other ’80s sitcom’s?
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 2:39 PM Here's How to Keep Apple From Sharing Your iPhone Data With the Police
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.