In case you missed it, conservative Bill Kristol is no longer an official Fox News contributor. That happened last summer. But today, Politico's Dylan Byers has an intriguing report about a falling out between Kristol and Fox News chief Roger Ailes due to Kristol's failure to badmouth someone Ailes wanted badmouthed.
In 2011, the Fox News chief asked Kristol to take a negative stance toward a certain individual, effectively helping Ailes in his effort to give that person a bad reputation, the sources said. Kristol refused to get involved in Ailes' personal arguments and, as a result, there was a "coolness" between the two going forward. Though the relationship remained cordial, Ailes felt he could no longer trust Kristol to be a team player.
I'll go out on a limb and guess that the "someone" Ailes wanted maligned was Gabriel Sherman, the Ailes biographer already known to be on his enemies list. Also, Sherman published a less-than-flattering exposé, as a foretaste of the upcoming biography, in May, 2011. But given Ailes' Nixon-like propensity for retribution against those he perceives as enemies, there are plenty of other possible candidates.
Byers acknowledges that other factors were in play regarding Kristol's departure from Fox:
Kristol was less central to Fox News programming during the 2012 election than he had been in previous cycles. He was also appearing less frequently on Fox News Sunday, due in part to the show's desire to have more variety on its panel. The network's plans to hire columnist George Will, another conservative columnist, may have played a role.
But the disagreement, while not directly responsible for the break, had a notable effect on the relationship between the two men, and may have been a factor.
Predictably, Fox refused to comment to Byers. But they did respond to their internet PR arm BFF's at Mediaite:
A Fox spokesperson denied (Byers') source's claims, telling us:
“Roger doesn’t recall a specific or negative incident — he likes Bill and doesn’t have an issue with him. We made a lot of changes at the network and had been talking to George Will for some time. At this point, Bill’s contract ran out and we declined to renew it.”
Not surprisingly, Mediaite did not note that "doesn't recall" is not exactly an unqualified denial. And somehow these "media experts" missed the real significance of Byers' report. It's not whether or not Kristol's refusal to do Ailes' dirty work was the actual reason he left Fox. Despite the headline (which writers typically do not write), even Byers suggests the incident between Kristol and Ailes was, at best, only part of the picture. What is a big deal is that Ailes would try to use somebody paid to give his own opinions on Fox as a plant for Ailes' own personal vendetta. And Ailes did not deny that.
Oh, and one other thing: Byers said he had sources, not one source.
The money they offer is not worth it. You are better off working at a local station for less money.
The turmoil inside those Fox “News” glass doors will get worse as the months goes by.
Coming down the pipe:
1. Rupy’s personal and business woes increases
2. Disgruntle employees at Fox “News” Channel
3. Nixon trainee Ailes is caught between a rock and a hard place
4. A couple of Fox “News” mouthpieces are not happy with their situation
5. Another Fox mouthpiece is out.
Grab the popcorn.