Fox News topper gloats over competish

When you’re No. 1 in the cable news ratings, it’s easy to take shots at the competition.

Using the occasion of Fox News Channel’s 10th anniversary, chairman-CEO Roger Ailes did just that Monday, lobbing zingers about the scandals that have hit rival news outlets.

“We haven’t had to fire our reporters or anchors for making up the news,” he proclaimed, meeting with reporters for the first time in several years at the TV Critics Assn. press tour.

Subtly referring to several skirmishes that have dogged his cable and broadcast rivals, he added, “We haven’t been forced to eat our words.”

But 10 years after Fox News Channel launched, the top-rated cable newser still isn’t recognized for its journalistic chops, Ailes complained.

“Fox News Channel is underrated in journalism,” he said. “Fox News breaks a lot of stories.”

Fox News kicked off the session by flashing a series of quotes from critics and other TV reporters in 1996, soon after the channel’s launch, predicting that it would fail.

Instead, the channel grew steadily and jumped ahead of CNN in late 2001.

“We held more of the audience after each news event,” he said. “Over time we held more of the audience… People flip through and see who they like and stay with who they like.”

A decade later, Ailes noted that Fox News Channel hadn’t lost to CNN “in almost 60 months now.” He added that Fox News had kept a stable primetime lineup while “our competition has canceled 54 shows” in the interim.

Ailes couldn’t resist tweaking CNN, noting that CNN/U.S. prexy Jonathan Klein told the TCA critics two weeks ago that the cabler had met its three main goals.

“We’re very happy about that,” Ailes quipped.

Without naming names, he also took a stab at CNN’s recent Anderson Cooper marketing blitz: “I haven’t spent $20 million marketing a star as one of our competitors has — even though it’s not their top-rated star.” (Later, he added, “I feel sorry for Larry King.”)

Asked about MSNBC host Keith Olbermann’s on-going on-air battle against Fox News and Bill O’Reilly, Ailes mostly held back.

“The truth is clearly he has no viewers except those he gets attacking Fox News,” he said. “I don’t believe in giving the guy any more oxygen.”

Meanwhile, Ailes said Fox News continues to move slowly forward on a spinoff business channel but that he had nothing new to report.

“When we have the distribution in place, we’ll go ahead,” he said. “I’ve developed a business plan but have not pushed it further than that. Stay tuned.”

Ailes said a business net wouldn’t be launched before next year but that Fox was “in active negotiations” to start clearing distribution.

Asked about the channel’s heavy coverage of Natalee Holloway and other missing young white women, Ailes noted that Fox News had covered at least two cases of missing minority women — “but both stories ended tragically and quickly,” he said. “We didn’t get the same amount of email or traffic… As with everything else in society, some people have it more fair than others.”

Asked about ongoing reports that a reporter and/or host shuffle was in the works, Ailes said “no imminent change” was expected.

“Everybody doing their job has nothing to worry about,” he said.

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