NEW YORK — During the past quarter-century, The Associated Press has had sit-downs with the Fox News founder several times. He was always brash and entertaining. Below are excerpts from those interviews:
July 1995 — With Fox News still a year away, Ailes had launched NBC-owned America's Talking, an advice-and-lifestyle cable network.
— "To build the network, I phrased a series of questions that I think Americans probably ask themselves consciously or subconsciously every day. Then I said, 'Let's try to create shows that answer those questions.'"
—"If they find a network that is about THEM, they will watch it. That is the philosophy, the theory, the driving force and the vision of America's Talking."
October 1996, the launch of Fox News Channel and its promise of "fair and balanced" journalism.
—"We are going to recognize that journalism is about information so that people can make up their own minds. That's the rule we're gonna set."
—"All I'm talking about is a sincere attempt at fairness."
—"I think we've hired a bunch of honest people who sincerely believe in that, and will work at it every day. Will they hit it every time? Hell, no. Will they try? Hell, yes. Will we be criticized? Hell, yes. Do I care? Hell, no."
October 2011, the 15th anniversary of Fox News, which has become the top-rated cable news network.
—"I realized at my age that if I screwed up, or it didn't work, I'd probably never work again. You just don't go out when you're over 55 years of age, have a colossal failure and expect to find work in your field again."
—"Everybody who's getting their ass beat vilifies the opponent. This is the first rule of fighting."
—"When there IS an occasion, I will do what I have to do, and I will win. Is that mellowing? I tend to see it more as picking my battles a little better than I used to. That's probably the best thing I've learned: to save it for when you need it, because when you need it, you have to win."
"I think we do better television than the other guys, and no matter how we do it, they don't seem to catch up. We seem to out-invent them and think ahead of them, and have better story ideas, better graphics, better on-air talent. We just are better television producers."
"The corporations lost confidence in their own senior executives. I think that helped me some. I think their screw-ups may have been corporate in nature, in the sense that if they had great executives in there, they didn't back 'em. And some of them WEREN'T great executives."
"I always wanted to raise the money to go back and buy the Cleveland Indians and be sure they won one more World Series ... The politically correct crowd would go after me to change the team's name," he says, maybe joking and maybe not. "They'd be all over my ass because I bought the Indians!"