Fox head honcho Roger Ailes, accepting a First Amendment leadership award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association last night, <a href=”http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/fnc/rtndf_1st_amendment_awards_transcript_of_roger_ailes_acceptance_speech_54637.asp“>addressed the controversy over a group of liberal activists who want Democrats to boycott an upcoming presidential debate hosted by Fox News:
I feel compelled, however — on a serious note — to say a few words. We’re headed into covering a tough political season and all of us will be called upon to do our best and be fair. Recently pressure groups are forcing candidates to conclude that the best strategy for journalists is divide and conquer, to only appear on those networks and venues that give them favorable coverage.
There’s a long tradition of news organizations, national and local, sometimes together, sponsoring presidential and other candidate debates. The organizations and the panelists have been the objects of a lot of advice and even pressure as to how these debates should be conducted and what questions should be asked. This pressure has been successfully resisted, but it’s being tried again this year with the added wrinkle that candidates are being asked to boycott debates because certain groups wants to approve the sponsoring organizations. This pressure must be resisted as it has been in the past. Any candidate for high office of either party who believes he can blacklist any news organization is making a terrible mistake about journalists. And any candidate of either party who cannot answer direct, simple, even tough questions from any journalist runs a real risk of losing the voters.
The public knows if a journalist’s question is unfair. They also know if a candidate is impeding freedom of speech and free press. If you are afraid of journalists, how will you face the real dangers in the world?
Hot Air has video of the speech. (h/t Greg P.)