Fox News opened its session here with a montage of quotes from naysayers – critics and competitors – decrying the shoddiness of the Fox News Channel and predicting that it would be dead as a bad sitcom when it launched 10 years ago this October.
Set to heart-pounding techno music, it perfectly epitomized the outlaw attitude of the news channel that overtook CNN in 2001 and, as chairman and CEO Roger Ailes pointed out, “we haven’t lost a day to them in 60 months now.”
The statistics kept coming.
“Since 2002, our cable news marketplace share has increased from 38% to 54%,” said Ailes. “Our prime time has made three or four adjustments over the 10 years. Our competition, MSNBC and CNN have canceled 54 shows against us in that time. We’re now seen in 80 countries.”
Despite the bottom-line success, Ailes felt compelled to defend the journalism on Fox News and the network’s “We Report. You Decide” and “Fair and Balanced” slogans, which in some circles remain punch lines.
“I actually think that Fox News is underrated in journalism,” said Ailes, “and some people think that can’t possibly be true. Fox News breaks a lot of stories. Brit Hume’s work is unparalleled. Our UN Oil for Food story, which we sort of forced on the world, was fine work by investigative journalist Eric Shawn. Shepard Smith’s Katrina coverage was terrific. This sort of journalism goes on day after day at Fox News.”
Looking forward, Ailes said he has no major changes planned for on-air talent in the near future, although he stressed that nothing short of complete dedication is tolerated.
“Is there imminent change in talent coming? No,” he said, adding, “but I’m looking all the time. I don’t want anybody to get lazy and sloppy. You have to be intense about doing your job every day. If you don’t want to do that, you should go sell insurance.”
And he again took a swipe at CNN, commenting that the network has “spent $20 million marketing a single star.”
Although he wouldn’t say the words “Anderson Cooper,” he did add: “I feel sorry for Larry King. He’s the No. 1 show on the network. You could use a little of that dough to promote him.”