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Thursday, June 10, 2004


Exclusive: Forthcoming Scoobie Davis Interview with Roger Ailes of Fox News
Fox News chief Roger Ailes has a scoop. The problem is that nobody—not even his own fair and balanced news channel—wants to report it. Accordingly, I am stepping up to do a story on Ailes’ scoop (I agree with Skippy that blogs don’t do much actual reporting and I hope to start a trend).

Here’s the back story: Last fall, researchers from the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) did a survey that found that people who watched Fox News were much more likely than those who got their news from other sources to be wrong about important questions about the Iraq war. What made me laugh about the study was that it found that the more people watched Fox News, the more likely it was that their perceptions about the war in Iraq were wrong.

Ailes and the Fox News gang were smarting from this study. There wasn’t much of a response until last week until last week when Ailes wrote an op-ed for—who else?—the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. Here’s the money shot for me in Ailes’ diatribe: “[Los Angeles Times editor John S. Carroll] cites only Bill O'Reilly's opinions and an old push poll [Ailes is referring to the PIPA study] that purports to show that more Fox News viewers believed things that were not true about Iraq and the War on Terror than did viewers of other outlets.”

This is a serious accusation. According to the Disinfopedia, “a push poll is where, using the guise of opinion polling, disinformation about a candidate or issue is planted in the minds of those being 'surveyed'. Push-polls are designed to shape, rather than measure, public opinion.” Ailes is familiar with push polls since his friends Karl Rove and the late Lee Atwater were champions of this campaign tactic. If the PIPA engaged in this type of behavior, they would be guilty of serious academic misconduct. What’s more: if such crude partisan tactics were employed, it would be a major academic scandal because the study was published in Political Science Quarterly, a peer-reviewed academic journal.

On the other hand, if Ailes is full of shit, then it’s also a story. I suspect this is the case because peer-reviewed studies have methodologies that are open to examination. I’m sure that after it was published, Ailes got some hack from the Heritage Foundation or perhaps John Lott/Mary Roush to go over the study with a fine-toothed comb. If there were any ethical or methodological flaws with the study, we would have known about it by now.

I think Ailes should put up or shut up. That’s why I’m going to interview him. How? For those of you not familiar with me, I have developed ways to bypass sophisticated security details. In the past I have used my security breaching powers for the purposes of crashing some of the hottest Hollywood parties (favorite party: the Spider-Man premiere after-party). I have decided to use my powers to get an audience with Ailes in order to ask him for the basis of his accusation (I’ll bring a notepad and a mini-recorder). And you know what is great about this? There isn’t a damn thing that Ailes can do to stop me so he better be ready for my questions.

Addendum: Help me do this. Support this site: scroll down to Tuesday’s post.


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