Fox News Undergoing 'Course Correction' From Far Right Viewpoint, Says Roger Ailes

10:28 AM PST 09/26/2011 by Patrick Kevin Day
Peter Kramer/Getty Images

UPDATED: The news exec says his network, which has a tradition of skewing conservative, is moving back to the center.

Fox News chief Roger Ailes says the network noted for its conservative viewpoints is in the midst of a "course correction" that has been happening over the past year.

In a new interview with Newsweek, Ailes discusses the changes he's making to the organization that Fox executives have privately said became even more conservative following the election of President Barack Obama. Efforts are underway to fix that, starting with Ailes ordering his anchors to "tone it down" in January following the Gabrielle Giffords shooting.

Other moves Ailes has made include parting ways with controversial host Glenn Beck (who went on to found his own online-only network), and more carefully positioning Sarah Palin, who has been on Fox as a pundit, but is flirting with a possible presidential run.

Ailes also says O'Reilly Factor host Bill O'Reilly is jealous of his colleague Sean Hannity, because of the latter's radio success. Ailes goes on to criticize Hannity as "predictable" and reveals that he has had many words with news anchor Shepard Smith, who has earned praise from the left for making on-air comments that don't go over well with Fox News' base audience.

Many of the current crop of Republican presidential candidates have been to visit Ailes, including frontrunners Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. Ailes offers his assessment of the candidates. Of Perry, he says he has a look that "if he tells people he's gonna kick their ass, he might actually do it, which is useful for a president."

He told Romney, "You ought to be looser on the air."

Former GOP hopeful Tim Pawlenty even sought Ailes out for a contract with the network, but Ailes told him it would be a problem if the former Minnesota governor endorsed Romney. "I'm not sure I want to sign you as a paid spokesman for Romney," he said.

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