Roger Ailes, the Fox News' high-profile CEO, realizes that the Republican Party has a serious demographic problem, most notably when it comes to Latino voters. But Ailes told The New Republic that he's on the case.
Mitt Romney lost the Latino vote by nearly 50 points, and now almost everyone agrees that the Republican Party needs to improve with Hispanic voters to have a shot at the White House in 2016. That could also be Ailes's last year at Fox News: His contract expires then, when he'll be 76 years old. So if Roger Ailes wants to see a Republican win what may be his last presidential election as a major player, he'll need to try to make conservatism more palatable to Latinos. Which, of course, he will.
"The fact is, we have a lot -- Republicans have a lot more opportunity for them," Ailes says. "If I'm going to risk my life to run over the fence to get into America, I want to win. I think Fox News will articulate that."
Yes, Ailes accidentally used the word "we" when talking about Republicans, before correcting himself.
As a substantive matter, Ailes went on to argue that Latinos should, in theory, be receptive to the intended ideological argument, driven in part by culture and religion. "I happen to think that the Latino audience is an essentially traditional audience and will go to Fox News for traditional American values," Ailes told TNR.
This has been the subject of considerable research, and there's ample evidence to the contrary. Indeed, most polls suggest most Latino voters support center-left candidates because they are, in fact, center-left voters.
And while that discussion is important, I'd like to pause for a moment to ask a more fundamental question: the head of a major American news organization believes it's his job to "articulate" a message to a specific group of voters that "Republicans have a lot more opportunity for them"?
Not to put too fine a point on this, but since when is it the job of a cable news network to help persuade a voting constituency that one political party is good for them?
Imagine, for example, that the head of CNN was reflecting on Democratic electoral difficulties among voters in the Deep South, and said, "The fact is, we have a lot -- Democrats have a lot more opportunity for them. I think CNN will articulate that." Wouldn't that seem odd?
I realize there's a wink-and-nod dynamic when it comes to Fox News' "fair and balanced" claims, and most political observers know the score well enough to be cynical about such things. But when Ailes makes comments like these -- out loud and on the record -- I find it rather alarming.
Indeed, it was just a couple of months ago that Ailes explained why he pressured David Petraeus to run for president in 2012: "I thought the Republican field [in the primaries] needed to be shaken up and Petraeus might be a good candidate."
Again, the point isn't whether the GOP field needed shaking up; the point is whether it's the job of a major news outlet to intervene.
Has the political world reached a point at which this is so expected from Ailes and Fox that we no longer even notice the importance of his admissions?