A new book on Fox News chief Roger Ailes has already caused a firestorm of criticism before its official publication date, after Vanity Fair ran excerpts from the book quoting Ailes as calling President Obama “lazy” and saying he “never worked a day in his life.”
While Ailes also calls Vice President Joe Biden “dumb as an ashtray” in the book, it is his bizarre comments about the president that are raising the ire of many, particularly African Americans who have had to contend with that particularly ridiculous stereotype since Africans were dragged to the U.S. and forced to work for free.
Ailes’ comments apparently came in response to the furor over Ann Romney, wife of Republican candidate Mitt Romney, when Democratic operative Hilary Rosen said that Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life.
“Obama’s the one who never worked a day in his life,” Ailes reportedly said, according to the book “Roger Ailes: Off Camera” written by Zev Chafets. “He never earned a penny that wasn’t public money. How often does he play basketball and golf? I wish I had that kind of time. He’s lazy, but the media won’t report that.”
On MSNBC, host Rev. Al Sharpton and his guest, liberal commentator Toure, tore into Ailes, saying his comments were part of the “dog whistles” conservatives use to make thinly veiled racial insults for their base.
They pointed out that President Obama has been an attorney, a constitutional law professor, and a community organizer.
“Another subtle thing is ‘lazy and never earned anything other than public money,’ which is almost like welfare,” Sharpton said, noting that the 84 days of vacation that President Obama has taken since assuming office was far less than the 250 days George W. Bush took in the first three years of his presidency.
Sharpton told his audience that he was showing restraint in his response to Ailes.
“And I’m being real nice about it,” he said. “I’m trying to not be like the big guy over at the echo chamber going crazy at the show.”
On CNN, progressive commentator Van Jones, who used to work in the White House, also reacted angrily.
“This is the kind of stuff that is really disgusting at the end of the day,” he said. “First of all, Barack Obama’s hair is white. He looks like the black Santa Claus who shaved his beard off. You don’t go looking from Tiger Woods to Morgan Freeman in three years if you’re not working hard. There’s a racial charge that some people find offensive.”
Jones said Ailes employs a racial double-standard because “Nobody calls [House Speaker John] Boehner lazy” despite him playing more golf than the president.
“This is the kind of stuff that really brings back into the mud,” Jones lamented.
But Republican consultant Ana Navarro defended Ailes, saying, “We’re taking excerpts out of a three-page article.”
“I think you’re dealing with somebody who is unfiltered, refreshingly politically incorrect to be in politics. I think it’s going to be an interesting book,” she said.
Fox News also issued a statement: “Vanity Fair excerpts a fraction of a 272-page book so it would be impractical to comment without having read the entire body of work in context.”
Ailes said he got his “lazy” remark from Obama’s own words. He was referring to a 2011 interview with Barbara Walters, who asked him, “What’s the trait you most deplore in yourself and the trait you most deplore in others?”
In response, the president said, “There is a deep down, underneath all the work I do, I think there’s a laziness in me,” adding, “It’s probably from, you know, growing up in Hawaii, and it’s sunny outside and sitting on the beach.”
He said the trait he most deplored in others was cruelty.