Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes died at the age of 77 Thursday morning. On the day of his death, Glenn shared his memories of the Roger Ailes he knew during his radio program.
“Roger Ailes and I had a very interesting relationship,” Glenn said. “And I will tell you that I am torn as Roger Ailes is one of the biggest tutors in my life and one of the biggest disappointments in my life.”
Enjoy the complimentary video clip of this segment.
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GLENN: Roger Ailes and I had a very interesting relationship. And I will tell you that I am torn, as Roger Ailes is — is one of the biggest — one of the biggest tutors in my life and one of the most — and one of the biggest disappointments in my life.
Roger was a tremendous performer and chameleon. He could be whoever he needed to be at the time, whoever he was around. He was a brilliant, brilliant man.
And I truly believe — I could be wrong. Because he was such a great performer. I truly believe I saw the best side of him. In private conversations, I really liked him. The side of him that I saw, I really liked.
The side of him that I saw come out towards the end, I despised and couldn’t get away from fast enough. He was a — he was a very dangerous man. And I think he knew that. I know he knew that.
But I think it bothered him. I think Roger and I had a — a relationship that honestly, when we — when I left Fox, we had a gun to each other’s head. I’m the only one to have left Fox with minimal damage. As he said, “You’re not leaving here. Nobody leaves here.” I said, “I am.” And because I had my own PR department, because I had my own radio show completely disconnected from him and Fox, because I kept my whole staff in my office and not in their office, we did some things right that had never been done before. And it really made Roger upset because he couldn’t get his thumb on me.
The one thing I learned at Fox, early on — and I thought early on that it was a good thing. I would say, you know, you have so many opportunities. You know, what about — have you thought about doing X, Y, and Z? And people would say, “Oh, no. I could never leave here. I could never leave Roger. I owe him too much.”
I always thought that was really nice. And loyalty. And he really could mentor you. As I found out within my first year, I’m not sure that’s exactly what everybody meant. I think Roger could — would and did find out the dirt on pretty much everybody and then put his finger down on you. And he would control you.
One of the reasons why I said “no” to him three times — and I didn’t want to go to work at Fox News. At the time, we were talking about creating something for HBO. And I wanted to get out of news.
And Roger had called several times and finally met with me in Rupert Murdoch’s dining room. And I said — he said, “What is it about the — more money, the bigger ratings that we’re offering you that you don’t seem to be interested in?” And I said, “Roger, you’re very smart. You’re very smart. But watching you, I know what you do.” And I said, “You collect curiosities, and you put them in a cabinet.” And I said, “Right now, I’m a curiosity.”
And I said, “I’m — I would probably do the same thing if I were you. Anybody who could — anybody who could make a name for themselves outside of my empire, if I had your money, I probably would say, ‘You know what, bring him in here. And then we’ll just set him on the shelf, and we can bring him out when we need him.'” I said, “I’m not going to be kept in somebody’s cabinet.”
I remember — I remember the first month, when I still really believed that we were on the same team. He had something called the Brain Room. We’ve never talked about this before. He had something called the Brain Room.
And little did I know what Brain Room really was for. And he had talked about — let me just — let me put that through the Brain Room. And this is when I saw the good side of Roger Ailes. I saw the patriot. I saw the guy who would use his resources for good. Somebody who was really a genius, truly a genius.
And he would say, “Let’s put this through the Brain Room.” And we were talking about the border and everything else.
And if you remember one episode early on at Fox, I talked about the border. And I said, “You know, I made a promise to these families down at the border, that we would tell your story.” I said, I couldn’t get the resources at CNN.” I said, “But the resources are here, and the calvary is coming.”
That never materialized because it wasn’t in the agenda. But the Brain Room had helped me on so many different things because we were looking at such complex figures. And what the Brain Room was, former cops, former investigators, IT people. You name it. And what they did was, they would do research.
Now, I thought they were doing research for all of us. Roger had given me access to an email and said, “Just send it to the Brain Room.” Okay. I thought everybody did that.
Well, I also was somebody who appreciates when people are doing hard work. And so they had just done something. I don’t remember what it was. But they had tracked down something for me. And so I went into my office, and I got a whole bunch of swag. I got a whole bunch of Glenn Beck stuff. And, you know, books and T-shirts and polos and caps and everything else. And I just brought boxes of stuff to Fox that day. And I went down into the basement, where someone had told me the Brain Room was. And it was just down this one hallway. And it had a combination lock on the door, and a peephole.
And I knocked on the door, or rang the doorbell. And it opened like a crack, and the guy inside said, “Hey, Mr. Beck, how can we help you?”
And I said, “Hey.” It was weird. Awkward. “Hey, I just got a bunch of stuff here, and I just wanted to give it to you guys and personally thank you for all of your help.”
And he’s like, “Okay.” And he kind of looked around behind him. The door was still — I couldn’t see really into the room. The door was open just a little crack.
And he was like, “okay. You know what, our boss just walked out. I — I said, “I just want to just shake everybody’s hand and thank them.”
And he’s like, “Okay. Quick. Come on in.”
He opens up the door, and I bring the box of stuff in, and I shake everybody’s hand. And I see this pretty impressive room. And a whole bunch of people in there.
And I’m like, “Hey, I just want to thank you guys. And, so what is it you guys do here?” And they were like, “You know, we just — you know, stuff like you.” And I’m like, “Oh, that’s great. Well, thanks, guys.”
I leave. That was the last time I was allowed to even discuss the Brain Room. The Brain Room was the private division of Mr. Ailes. So when people said, “I owe Roger too much,” I believe that to be true. I’d like to check with my attorneys before I tell you another reason why I believe that. But it was a scary place. Roger was a very, very powerful man. There are reasons that I have said very little about leaving Fox, and it has only spilled out in dribs and drabs.
He’s a very powerful man — or was. You did not take on Roger Ailes. When I left Fox, we each had a gun to each other’s head. I have been because I had started TheBlaze and I knew that we had such power. And Roger knew that I was smart and effective. And I also knew his power. That we walked out of the room the last time kind of smiling with that finger guns pointed at each other, figuratively saying, “We’re going to play nice together, right? Right? We’re not going — we’re not going to — we’re not going to hurt each other, right? Because it would be bad for the country, if we decided to attack each other.”
He knew that he could absolutely destroy me. But he also knew I would put chinks in the armor at Fox if we wanted to. I didn’t think it was the right thing to do, because I thought Fox did good. And I knew that there’s nobody else. If you start taking Fox down, there’s nobody else.