Common Sense

Cavuto: Remembering Roger Ailes

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," May 18, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

Perhaps it seems fitting on a day we cover the latest on a president railing against the mainstream media, we report on the passing of a news pioneer who challenged that mainstream media.

Roger Ailes, who put Fox News on the map, is now gone from this world he was 77 years old.

It seems fitting he was born in the midst of a world war. I used to joke fighting was in his DNA from the get-go.

Something had to explain how Roger refused to let-go of conventional truths the media took as a given, spoon-fed to a public that knew or saw or read little else.

It is said Roger democratized news not so much a response to the left, but as he would tell me, what was left out. That was his battle plan. What the others were leaving out. As he would tell me later, he had nothing else.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Roger Ailes: When I had to launch Fox News and we had no studios, control rooms, stars, programs, or anything else, but we did have an idea. And we knew there was an audience. And we knew how to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Lost in this age-old argument about what is Fox News, throughout my earliest days working with Roger when this place was just starting up more than two decades ago he would instead remind me what Fox was not, and is not, that we’re not the same.

The same approach to the same stories the same way, each day, every day.

Roger encouraged us to look at the bad, but also see the good.

To recognize that capitalism has its sinners.

But it also has its saviors.

That being rich isn't bad. Acting like it is.

That not all priests are pedophiles.

And not everyone who prays is pathetic.

That god and country mean something.

And always dismissing one or both says something about a generation that has forgotten its roots, as much as it's lost its core.

Roger was among the first to say that being a good journalist and a good patriot are not incompatible.

Assuming you could be a good journalist without being a good patriot was, for Roger, that was kind of unthinkable.

Fair and balanced seems almost an over-used phrase today.

It was an alien concept more than two decades ago around today.

Back then the media felt they were doing just fine, there's no audience for something like Fox.

Roger proved there was, the vast majority of disheartened spoon-fed media customers, who proved there was a widespread hungering for Fox.

To this day, there are still journalists who prefer to say we at Fox tilt to the right, but would never say of any of their colleagues or themselves, they tilt to the left.

That tilt is fine. That tilt is accepted. That bias is okay. That tilt is encouraged.

That tilt remains the prism through which the media sees the world and shares its vision of the world.

They're entitled to that point of view. Roger was the first to say they're not entitled to stacking the facts to support that point of view.

It made Fox a pariah with media folks, even as it made Fox a phenomenon with most average folks.

Maybe that is Roger's lasting legacy that he made the obvious so obvious.

The bias so transparent.

What qualified as news so predictable.

That's the chasm Roger Ailes brought to life and this channel brought to the world.

The gulf between what mattered to the media world and what mattered to the real world.

Between the folks writing the lines, and the folks tired of the same old lines.

Between those supposedly providing a service, and those who were getting sick of that service.

The media never got that. Roger Ailes never forgot that, that was something that we would never forget ever and he wasn’t going to slow down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Ailes: I love Fox News. I understand where it fits in the world. I want it to continue forever and I want it to grow and be strong.

Cavuto: But you have no near term plans?

Ailes: Well my near term plans are to put my competitors out of business completely. I get up every day figuring 'this is how we're going to do this.' And I don't think about anything else. And I wouldn't recommend anybody for the job who didn't think that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Roger Ailes would be the first to tell you he was an unlikely revolutionary. And his fly-over country roots in Ohio, made him an even more unlikely media titan.

He used to say given the choice between hiring someone with a good IQ versus a good EQ, he'd pick the EQ candidate every time. Because, he said, common sense matters.

There is much over the last year that I have as tough a time comprehending today as I did a year ago.

Back then I was recovering from open heart surgery and through everything that was going on, constant phone calls from Roger and his wife Beth checking in on how I was coming along.

Much I still can't fathom, save that Roger apparently compartmentalized a lot. Maybe more than most. I'll never know for sure.

But I sure know this. Nothing takes away from what he did, what he created, and the legacy left.

No less than Rupert Murdoch, who not only appreciated Roger's vision, but funded it, saw it and Roger's great potential:

A brilliant broadcaster, Roger played a huge role in shaping America’s media over the last thirty years. He will be remembered by the many people on both sides of the camera that he discovered, nurtured and promoted.
Roger and I shared a big idea which he executed in a way no one else could have. In addition, Roger was a great patriot who never ceased fighting for his beliefs.

All the lives and anchors you know so well here. Roger saw something in each and every one of us constantly.

In the end, after all the controversies, all the battles, all the back and forth over allegations, some real, some maybe not this much is certain.

We are here, I am here, a fair and balanced alternative to same-old is here because this middling kid who didn’t quite do that well in school from Ohio, somehow took it upon himself to change the world.

A remarkable testament. A remarkable life.

Roger Ailes, gone at 77.

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Neil Cavuto serves as senior vice president, anchor and managing editor for both FOX News Channel (FNC) and FOX Business Network (FBN). He is anchor of FNC's Your World with Cavuto - the number one rated cable news program for the 4 p.m. timeslot - as well as the FNC Saturday show Cavuto on Business. He also hosts Cavuto on FBN weeknights at 8 p.m. In addition to anchoring daily programs and breaking news specials on FNC and FBN, Cavuto oversees business news content for both networks and FNC's weekend business shows, including Bulls & Bears, Forbes on Fox, and Cashin' In. Click here for more on Neil Cavuto.