GOP Convention: Delegates Weigh In on Fox News' Ailes Drama
Some delegates praised the network where others were disappointed about the way it covered the primaries and GOP debates.
Update: 21st Century Fox announced that Ailes is resigning on Thursday. Below is how delegates responded to reports that his departure was imminent.
CLEVELAND — Delegates exiting Tuesday night’s proceedings at the Republican National Convention might have been the last conservatives in the country to learn that Fox News Channel, the cable network that arguably reflects their values better than any other, is on the verge of losing its leader, Roger Ailes.
Their reactions, however, were very mixed. Some delegates lined up to talk about the oft-described conservative network, eager to either praise Fox News or to convey their disappointment about the way it covered the primaries and GOP debates.
“Fox News lost a lot of relevancy to folks on the right,” said Dominic Godinez, an alternate delegate from Iowa, who supported Ted Cruz during the primary season. “There’s been more fairness and more balance on CNN during this election. Donald Trump received an outlandish amount of airtime on Fox. The Republican party has been forever changed this election cycle, and so has Fox News.”
On the heels of allegations that he sexually harassed anchor Gretchen Carlson, and some others who haven’t yet been named, Ailes is negotiating his exit, according to several sources.
“I like Roger Ailes because he is the brains behind Fox News,” said Eileen Grossman, a delegate from Rhode Island. "Greta Van Susteren is brilliant, and he brought her in, just like he brought in Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.
“And I was sick of Gretchen Carlson reminding us she was Miss America. Who gives a rat’s ass?” she added.
Grady Thornton, an alternate delegate from Alabama, was a rape counselor, and said he sides with the accusers of Ailes: “It’s important for society that every woman feels safe in their workplace. I believe these are reputable women who have spoken out.”
He added, though, that he doesn’t watch Fox News, he has simply been following the drama surrounding Ailes since Carlson filed her sexual harassment lawsuit — by reading AOL and MSNBC.com. “I like to know what all sides are thinking,” he said.
“You mean the grab-ass?” said Michigan alternate delegate Dennis Pittman when asked his opinion of the Ailes situation. “Normally you can’t do that in the workplace, right?”
Pittman is a longtime Trump supporter, and lost a little faith in Fox News after watching Megyn Kelly at the first GOP debate. “She was obviously unfair,” he said, alluding to Kelly challenging Trump about nasty things he has said about certain women, like actress Rosie O’Donnell.
“Fox News hasn’t been fair and balanced lately,” said Pittman. “Bill O’Reilly brings his emotions into his interviews, and when he disagrees with a guest, he’s not fair.”
Mark Harris, an alternate delegate from Pennsylvania who supported Ted Cruz early on, said his candidate was never treated fairly at Fox News.
“They were trying to influence the voters depending on who they favored at any given moment,” he said. “First it was Jeb Bush, then Marco Rubio, then Trump, but it was never Cruz.
“I’ve actually been watching CNN and praising Don Lemon,” said Harris. “Fox News is too much like entertainment. I don’t have time for nonsense in the morning.
“But Maria Bartiromo has a great show,” he said, praising the star of Fox Business Network, a sister channel to Fox News.
“Fox News has never mattered to me,” said North Carolina alternate delegate Kyshia Lineberger. “I always thought it was skewed and I didn’t want to go that far right. As for Ailes, I trust the women. I think the chickens will come home to roost.”
Doreen Costa, a delegate and state senator from Rhode Island, says she watches Fox News “23/7” and loves it. “Except for Megyn Kelly. That’s the hour I turn it off. She’s all into herself.”
As for Ailes, Costa gives him props for building her favorite news network, but she doesn’t expect it to change after he is gone.
“They’ll move on. They wouldn’t dare let a liberal take the top spot at Fox News. I’d buy it myself before I let that happen,” joked Costa.
Sheila Faske, a delegate from Texas, says she hasn’t paid too much attention to the scandal involving Ailes, but she did say she isn’t pleased with the network’s coverage of the GOP convention.
“Delegates are complaining that Fox News has people talking over the speakers, so you can’t hear the speeches. A lot of us have been watching CSPAN instead,” she said.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter after Ailes' departure was announced on Thursday, Elizabeth DePiero, a GOP guest from New Hampshire said: "I love Fox News. It's on in my house 24 hours a day." She has been standing outside the Fox News booth at the convention hall on and off for four days with a sign reading, "Fox is Fair," snapping selfies with the famous politicos the network has been hosting.
"Fox will still be Fox without Roger," she said. "Bill Clinton should have been thrown out of office for his behavior. At least Roger did the truthful and honest thing by stepping down. See the difference?"
July 21, 1:30 p.m. PT: Updated with Ailes' departure
3:50 p.m. PT: Updated with GOP guest response