Fox News chief Roger Ailes has been actively trying to recruit New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to run for president, according to New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman. Because that's just what newsmen do. It's in their blood.
Sherman's 6,000-word story is an excellent look inside how Ailes has navigated the Obama era, turning a humiliating defeat for Fox's audience into a nonstop festival of white rage, stoked expertly by Ailes' finely honed sense of privileged resentment. But riding the tiger is a risky business, and Fox News' needs—a steady stream of red meat for the GOP's most conservative core—began to diverge from the Republican Party's need for a credible candidate to appeal to independent voters. So after gorging on grievances and hatred for two years, he's looked up to see a bunch of TV-crazed goons running for the GOP nomination, none of whom stand a chance against Obama:
All the 2012 candidates know that Ailes is a crucial constituency. "You can't run for the Republican nomination without talking to Roger," one GOPer told me. "Every single candidate has consulted with Roger." But he hasn't found any of them, including the adults in the room-Jon Huntsman, Mitch Daniels, Mitt Romney-compelling. "He finds flaws in every one," says a person familiar with his thinking.
"He thinks things are going in a bad direction," another Republican close to Ailes told me. "Roger is worried about the future of the country. He thinks the election of Obama is a disaster. He thinks Palin is an idiot. He thinks she's stupid. He helped boost her up. People like Sarah Palin haven't elevated the conservative movement."
Ha! Stupid works really well on television, but it can be a liability in the political sphere. Corpulence, however, is awesome. Ailes knows that Americans love fat angry white men—just look at how well he's done! Which is why he's been doing the solemn duty of all journalists and urged his favored politician to enter the race and defeat his political enemy:
A few months ago, Ailes called Chris Christie and encouraged him to jump into the race. Last summer, he'd invited Christie to dinner at his upstate compound along with Rush Limbaugh, and like much of the GOP Establishment, he fell hard for Christie, who nevertheless politely turned down Ailes's calls to run.
In the interest of fairness and balance, we're sure Ailes has been doing his damnedest to get Kucinich in the race on the Democratic side, too.
UPDATE: Fox New vice president Bill Shine has issued a denial that Ailes thinks Sarah Palin is stupid—though it you have people publicly denying that they think you're stupid, the game's over, right?—and essentially threatening to track down the anonymous source who claimed he does.
I know for a fact that Roger Ailes admires and respects Sarah Palin and thinks she is smart. He also believes many members of the left wing media are extremely terrified and threatened by her. Despite a massive effort to destroy Sarah Palin, she is still on her feet and making a difference in the political world. As for the ‘Republican close to Ailes' for which the incorrect Palin quote is attributed, when Roger figures out who that is, I guarantee you he or she will no longer be 'close to Ailes.'
Not if Ailes figures out who it is, but when. Considering the fact that he's a paranoid maniac who calls the cops all the time and threatens even his least significant enemies with lawsuits and uses News Corp security personnel to spy on employees he thinks are talking about him, it's a good bet he'll find out.
[Photos of Ailes and Christie via Getty Images]