AILES, ROGER

U.S. Media Consultant/Producer/Executive

Roger Eugene Ailes is one of television's most versatile, outspoken, and successful producers and consultants. He has been described as "the amusingly ferocious Republican media genius" and a "pit-bull Republican media strategist turned television tycoon." He has had a variety of careers, including producer of television shows, Shakespearean plays, and Off-Broadway, and president of the cable television channels CNBC and America's Talking.

Ailes' career in television began in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was a producer and director for KYW-TV, for a then-locally produced talk-variety show, The Mike Douglas Show. He later became executive producer for The Mike Douglas Show, which syndicated nationally. He received two Emmy Awards for The Mike Douglas Show (1967, 1968). It was in this position, in 1967, that he had a spirited discussion about television in politics with one of the show's guests, Richard Nixon, who took the view that television was a gimmick. Later, Nixon called on Ailes to serve as his executive producer of TV. Nixon's election victory was only Ailes' first venture into presidential television.

Ailes founded Ailes Communications, Inc., in New York in 1969, and consulted for various businesses and politicians, including WCBS-TV in New York. He also tried his hand in theater production with the Broadway musical Mother Earth (1972) and the off-Broadway hit play Hot-L Baltimore (1973-76), for which Ailes received 4 Obie Awards. He was executive producer for a television special The Last Frontier in 1974. He produced and directed a television special, Feiini: Wizards, Clowns and Honest Liars, for which he received an Emmy Award nomination in 1977.

Ailes carried out political consulting for many candidates during the 1970s and 1980s, but returned to presidential campaigning as a consultant to Ronald Reagan in 1984. He is widely credited with having coached Ronald Reagan to victory in the second presidential debate with Walter Mondale after Reagan had disappointed his partisans with a lackluster effort in the first debate. In 1984, Ailes won an Emmy Award as executive producer and director of a television special, Television and the Presidency. In 1988, Ailes wrote a book with Jon Kraushar, You Are the Message: Secrets of the Master Communicators, in which he discusses some of his philosophies and strategies for successful performance in the public media eye.

Ailes also won acclaim for his work in the 1988 presi-dential election, in which he helped guide George Bush to a come-from-behind victory over Michael Dukakis. He did not work on the losing 1992 Bush campaign against Bill Clinton. In 1991, Ailes convinced a syndicator to bring Rush Limbaugh from radio to television and became exec-utive producer of the late-night show. He announced his withdrawal from political consulting in 1992.

In 1993, Ailes became president of NBC's cable channel CNBC and began planning another NBC cable channel, America's Talking. The new channel debuted on 4 July 1994. Ailes also hosts his own nightly show, Straight For-wareL Since Ailes took over at CNBC, ratings have increased 50% and profits have tripled.

-Lynda Lee Kaid

ROGER (EUGENE) AILES. Born in Warren, Ohio, U.S.A., 15 May 1940. Graduated from Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, BA. 1962. Began television career as property assistant, The Mike Douglas Show, KYW-TV, Cleveland, Ohio, 1962; producer, 1965; executive producer, 1967-68; media adviser to Richard M. Nixon Presidential Campaign, 1968; founder Ailes Communication, a media production and consulting firm, 1969; producer, Broadway plays, Mother Earth, 1972, Hot-L Baltimore, 1973-76; producer, various television specials, 1974-82; media Consultant, Ronald Reagan Presidential Campaign, 1984; George W. Bush Presidential Campaign, 1988; various senatorial and Congressional campaigns; president, CNBC, cable television network, 1993-96; president and program host, America's Talking, and all-talk cable television network, 1994-96; chair and chief executive officer of FOX News and the FOX News Channel, from January 1996. Honorary Doctorate, Ohio University. Recipient: Obie Award, Best Off-BroadwayShow, 1973; EmmyAward, 1984.


Roger Ailes
Phot courtesy of CNBC

TELEVISION

1991            An All-Star Tribute to Our Troops (producer)

PUBLICATIONS

"Attorney Style: Charisma in a Court Counts." The National Law Journal (New York), 21 July 1986. You Are the Message. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1987.

"The Importance of Being Likeable." Reader's Digest (Pleasantville, New York), May 1988. "Sam and Diane: Give 'em Time." Advertising Age (New York), 21 August 1989.

"How to Make a Good Impression." Reader's Digest (Pleasantville, New York), September 1989.

"A Few Kind Words for Presenter Tip O'Neill." Advertising Age (New York), 8 January 1990.

"They Told the Truth...Occasionally." Adweek's Marketing Week (New York), 29 January 1990.

"How to Make an Audience Love You." Working Woman (New York), November 1990.

"Campaign Strategy." Time (New York), 11 May 1992.

"Lighten Up! Stuffed Shirts Have Short Careers." Newsweek (New York), 18 May 1992.

FURTHER READING

Barnes, Fred. "Pulling the Strings." The New Republic (Washington, D.C.), 22 February 1988.

Devlin, Patrick L. "Contrasts in Presidential Campaign Commercials of 1988." American Behavioral Scientist (Princeton, New Jersey), March-April 1989.

Hass, Nancy. "Roger Ailes: Embracing the Enemy." New York Times Magazine (New York), 8 January 1995.

Miller, Stuart. "Roger Ailes Hits TV with a Rush." Variety (Los Angeles, California), 21 June 1991.

Oneal, Michael. "Roger Ailes Fixed CNBC, But Now Ted Turner Looms." Business Week (New York), 3 July 1995.

Wolinsky, Leo C. "Refereeing the TV Campaign." Washington Journalism Review (Washington, D.C.), January-February 1991.