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N.Y. town fosters ‘anti-Christian’ hatred against Roger Ailes, says Ailes editor

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Roger Ailes

Roger Ailes

Here’s some crazy news from my town. An editor who answers to Roger Ailes, the Fox News president, is accusing my Hudson Valley community of fostering “anti-Christian” feeling against Ailes and his family.

First the back story. Roger Ailes moved to Philipstown, N.Y., six years ago and soon after bought The Putnam County News & Recorder (PCN&R), a weekly that has come out since just after the Civil War. His wife Elizabeth Ailes took over as publisher.

Roger Ailes likes to mix it up in local politics, so the paper has become something of an advocacy rag for conservative causes. But because this is a fairly progressive community, Ailes’s horses have usually lost, and there’s been a lot of local resistance, manifesting itself in the startup of a rival weekly published by a former aide to Jimmy Carter, in a Facebook group, in a memoir by a local shopowner, and in a website that parodies the PCN&R. The New Yorker and New York magazine have both written this story up, and a forthcoming biography of Ailes called The Loudest Voice in the Room is expected to tell the story too.

All healthy signs of democracy in action, right? But according to the PCN&R, the opposition has also resulted in vandalism targeting piles of newspapers outside the PCN&R offices. The PCN&R people put up surveillance cameras, and sought arrests, etc.

This week Douglas Cunningham, editor-in-chief and associate publisher for the Ailes weekly, wrote a column in the full-on paranoid style, titled, “Motives, and The Motives Under The Motives,” attributing the vandalism to a widespread local conspiracy of haters aimed at running the Aileses out of town.

Cunningham says he’s feared for his life, and twice describes the conspirators as anti-Christian. First:

“We have never written about the sick, aggressive, anti-Christian haters who are determined to control all thought and speech in Philipstown.”

The column is a rant. It elides death threats with messages scrawled on paper plates and teenagers on the ramble: “four or five young men… appeared in our windows, at least two them on the front step. It was threatening to our staff in light of the dangerous things going on in the world.” Huh.

The selfless editor is loyal to the Aileses:

“The threats against me and the newspaper pale in comparison to those against our owner and her family.”

Cunningham blames the threats on “dividers” and “an intolerant group of local loons who decided they needed to get ride of the Aileses and/or the PCN&R.”

Here’s his second claim that they’re anti-Christian:

“[The parody website] ridicules the efforts of any number of local residents. It belittles Christians generally and churches specifically. It attacks the Tiny Mites football players…”

Cunningham names only three people: Judith Kepner Rose, “the instigator of the Facebook discussion;” Ann S. Beddingfield, a lawyer; and Shane Scott-Hamblen, an Episcopalian rector. I can’t say where any of these people stand on the Tiny Mites, but I’m told that Scott-Hamblen has drawn the ire of the local Catholic priest because he’s married to a man, and that Ailes’s newspaper gives a lot of press to the Catholic church.

I find Cunningham’s column embarrassing, because this is a good town and I’ve never seen religious prejudice here. In fact, I’ve often gone to the Catholic church for funerals of dear friends. If Cunningham believes that bigotry is here, he should produce his evidence rather than talking about teenagers on the doorstep and greasy paper plates.

Of course I wonder whether the paranoia reflects the boss’s ideas. Roger Ailes is a conservative by temperament. At public meetings here, he has quoted George Washington (not without eloquence). If he thinks his neighbors hate Christians, he should say so.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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20 Responses

  1. agatharchides on October 13, 2013, 12:57 pm

    If his newspaper just got vandalized I think we can forgive him an angry rant. It’s a pretty human response. I got vandalized I my first reply might not be in perfect diplomatic, coached language either.

    Also, what exactly does this have to do with the Middle East or I/P conflict? I’m rather confused about what this is doing here…..

    • annie on October 13, 2013, 2:51 pm

      agatha, everything here is not about the middle east. check out beyondoweiss, listed above under “features”

      • RoHa on October 13, 2013, 8:21 pm

        “everything here is not about the middle east.”

        Not true. Most things here are about the Middle East. Not everything, but most things.

    • traintosiberia on October 14, 2013, 11:10 am

      Fox and other Murdoch outlet are all about ME with kind of theme and one aim and both are to dehumanized the Palestinians,Arabs,Moslem and any one in league with any of them .

  2. annie on October 13, 2013, 3:03 pm

    it’s really bizarre how they came to the conclusion this was somehow related to the Ailes’s religion. from the entertaining nymag embed:

    ….Under the Aileses, the PCN&R took a rightward turn, alarming some local residents when it began publishing selections from the Federalist Papers. In May 2009, it ran a two-part editorial attacking the Obama administration’s stimulus plan. Around the same time, the paper aggressively covered a local debate over zoning, framing the story as a philosophical issue of property rights. With the paper, Ailes became a fixture in town. He renovated the paper’s office on Main Street and sponsored the annual July 4 fireworks celebration in 2010, hanging a large banner across Main Street. That year, he drove his vintage red Cadillac in the July 4 parade.

    It was on July 4, 2010, when Stewart launched, a local news website to compete with the PCN&R. The launch triggered a media war in town. Beth Ailes felt betrayed when Stewart staffed the site with several PCN&R reporters who quit the Ailes’ paper en masse to work for Stewart. “When we bought the paper we didn’t say to all the people who worked here, ‘You’re fired,’ knowing full well that there were people here who didn’t share our same way of looking at the world,” Beth Ailes told The New Yorker in 2011. The media rivalry between Stewart and Ailes split the town. Local Republican politicians all but refused to talk to Stewart’s reporters. Democrats complained that the PCN&R took shots at them.

    there’s a lot more in that article. it sounds a tad like an out of towner bought the town paper for his wife to have a hobby and turned it into a conservative rag and is now complaining because the town’s folks started a new paper more to their liking (and have called it “The Paper” challenging the old paper which used to informally be called the paper!)

    but it sounds to me like someone is just using the ol’ anti semitism catholic fallback canard. silly/shameful. that said maybe people in the town are not so nice to them, but it doesn’t sound racist in nature.

    • Hostage on October 13, 2013, 8:19 pm

      it’s really bizarre how they came to the conclusion this was somehow related to the Ailes’s religion.

      It’s really a bizarre proposition that anyone would attack Ailes on the grounds of his Christian identity. His editorial policy at Fox roundly rejects the teachings of the Beatitudes and Christian scriptures about peacemaking, materialism, and charity in favor of full-throated advocacy of perpetual wars, unregulated greed, and almost utter disrespect for the poor, the sick, or the suffering. I think it’s much more likely that those blatantly intolerant and anti-Christian positions of his are more likely to be the source of his troubles.

    • Hester on October 14, 2013, 6:49 am

      Some residents were alarmed when the paper began publishing selections of the Federalist Papers??? Hilarious! The poor dears.

  3. Krauss on October 13, 2013, 3:09 pm

    The fact that you live in the same small town as Roger Ailes is in fact quite unbelievable. This is a gold mine.

    There is a certain part of me that sympathizes with Ailes, perhaps because he reminds me of my own conservative old uncles, even if they’re wrong on mostly everything, they are deep down good people. I know a lot of people see Ailes as a monster, and he’s easy to make fun of since he is intellectually and in many ways emotionally still in the 50s. The 1850s. But I think he fundamentally believes his ideology is good-natured and I think he’s smart enough to see that the country, especially the millenials, are way past his values. He has described himself as a ‘Taft-Republican’. Taft was active in the 1940s, so that’s his political frame of mind.

    Maybe his paranoia has gotten worse with older age. But I also remember reading that he apparently bullet-proofed the Fox News station with very expensive glass and so on. He was convinced al-Qaida wanted to assassinate him or something.

    If I remember correctly, he gave his grandson a box with a pistol, a few bullets and a bit of gold inside it(like a true conservative, he has deep distrust of the Federal reserve system and is a fierce proponent of gold as currency).
    Why? Because Ailes sees the country going to hell in his grandson’s lifetime(which, considering the last few weeks might not be so surreal to consider anymore) and in fact within a decade or two.

    • Krauss on October 13, 2013, 3:14 pm

      Ailes interests me because he is an ancient relic of an era that we will likely never see again; when America had a much more coherent and unified identity.

      The price paid for that cohesiveness was immensive(especially if you were non-white), of course, but I still think that of all the things I find idiotic with conservatism, if there’s one area that I’d be willing to exempt from that contempt then it is probably the concent of a unified nation – although not by race – and the importance of a set of principles to adhere to, not without any flexibility, but with great deference. I think we liberals can be sloppy here sometimes. It’s part of who we are; we’re constantly hungry for progress, sometimes progress for the sake of progress(which is really change for the sake of change).

      Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading Jonathan Haidt’s books lately.
      He gives a good case that conservatism today is a foreign beast, marred by the big business lobby and the neocons and that a true, considerate and intellectual conservatism once used to exist, in fact not as long ago. We at this site know that considering their history in shaping U.S. public policy – quite sensibly at that – in the Middle East(before being purged by neocons and their liberal helpers).
      But there’s more to this than just foreign policy in the Middle East.

      Haidt himself says that he despises the modern Republican party but maintains that there is an intellectual conservatism that was lost a few decades ago to Reaganism and neoconservatives, but that still lives on in hibernation.
      Or maybe it’s just Haidt’s own intellectual curiosity that forces him to create conservatives that no longer exist to stimulate a debate.
      I don’t think Ailes is an intellectual by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think he is a link to a past which I am getting more interested into.
      When conservatives like him die out, the young people on the right we’ll be left with are moronic, a-historic libertarians who think the road to prosperity is to destroy everything.
      I’d like an opposition with a historical narrative and fluency, and with a natural skeptic outlook on even big business and a non-interventionist foreign policy and with a focus on the contemporary culture instead of just shouting OBAMACARE! DEATH PANELS!

      Maybe I’m just projecting my own fantasies like Haidt. Ailes may be a link to this past, but he isn’t it himself.

  4. Nevada Ned on October 13, 2013, 5:21 pm

    Is Roger Ailes a “Taft Republican”? Senator Robert Taft was opposed to labor unions, and headed up the effort that passed the Taft-Hartley anti-union bill, over-riding Truman’s veto. So on domestic issues, maybe Roger Ailes is a Taft Republican.

    But on foreign affairs, Robert Taft was a famous isolationist, opposing NATO and opposing US entry into the Second World War. Taft was skeptical of Cold War claims that the Soviet Union was an expansionist power like Nazi Germany. Ailes was a propagandist for the Reagan Republican, who were (and still are) ultra-interventionist. The very opposite of Robert Taft. Don’t forget, Ailes is the head of Fox News.

  5. DICKERSON3870 on October 13, 2013, 7:02 pm

    RE: “I’m told that Scott-Hamblen [an Episcopalian rector] has drawn the ire of the local Catholic priest because he’s married to a man, and that Ailes’s newspaper gives a lot of press to the Catholic church.” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: I’m confused. So very, very confused! Pastor John Hagee sayeth that Catholics are not even Christians! He insists that Catholics are “apostates”*.
    Please help me Dear Lord! I beseech thee! Save me from this crazy, crazy world! ! !

    * John Hagee on the Catholic Church, 2003 [VIDEO, 08:13] –

    P.S. Apostasy in Christianity –

  6. mcohen on October 13, 2013, 9:54 pm

    Holocaust insensitivity allegation

    In January 2011, an open letter printed in the Wall Street Journal on the UN-designated Holocaust Remembrance Day from 400 rabbis, including the leaders of all main branches of Judaism in the US, called on Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corp, to sanction Fox News commentator Glenn Beckdue to his use of the Holocaust to “discredit any individual or organization you disagree with.” Ailes called executives of the public radio network NPR “Nazis” for sacking a news analyst, Juan Williams, after Williams had made remarks considered by NPR to be offensive. Ailes apologised to a Jewish group for using the expression, although not to NPR. An executive at Fox News rejected the letter, calling it the work of a “George Soros-backed leftwing political organisation.”[24] Ailes has also dismissed Jewish critics, referring to them as “left-wing rabbis.”[25]

    why pity with the pat saying this and that,
    what really ails these guys is the changing demographics of america,and the catholic church facing a huge problem with the pedophiles in the priesthood scandals worlwide

    the real problem is the 3 companions have lost there way.people want relegion to be a leading light in there lives and judaism,islam,and christianity have hypocritical aspects that are unacceptable in todays world of infomation connectitivity.
    there is no where to hide anymore

    blessed are you G-d,king of the universe,who resides in the seven realms
    in the north and in the south,in the east and in the west,in the earth below,in the heavens above,in our souls eternally.

  7. Marco on October 13, 2013, 10:12 pm

    I have little sympathy for Roger Ailes, but I do think that liberals and progressives in general are too quick to dismiss the presence of anti-Christian prejudice in America today. Something’s changed even in little more than a decade, which has made the center-left not just secular, but increasingly anti-Christian.

    I think it’s sad, because devout Christians cover the gamut from right to left, just like Muslims and Jews do.

    • annie on October 13, 2013, 11:06 pm

      ok, but where’s the evidence any animosity the people in this small community might harbor for ailes is connected to his religion? after all, he owns a newspaper. isn’t it more likely they’re rejecting his perspective? is the perspective in his fishwrap ..christian? because that has not been established by the reports. or is it teaparty conservative?

      note mcCohen just dragged pedophilia into the conversation. what has any of this town stuff have to do/the catholic church? can someone just scream ‘anti jewish’ or ‘anti christian’ anytime? in loo of the actual criticisms leveled against the paper or the man/wife team, this is just scapegoating and claiming people do not like them for religious purposes. that’s a crutch and a bad habitand seeks to divide people w/ethnic connotations.

      whereas, it sounds like politics to me.

    • RoHa on October 13, 2013, 11:26 pm

      “devout Christians cover the gamut from right to left”

      And can be a damned nuisance anywhere along that simple-minded scale.

  8. W.Jones on October 13, 2013, 11:27 pm

    My understanding is that Ailes is claiming his opponents are anti-Christian, particularly the website The Pretend Putnam News.

    There, a few headlines are: “Church Continues Long Tradition of Reflecting on Other Faiths” (sarcasm)

    “Seniors Must Pray Harder to Save Post Office. Divine Intervention Requested” (sarcasm).

    Xmas Controversies Heat Up Whoville”

    Years ago the secular Central Hudson rashly decided that our Christian ways and means must be derided. Electricians ignore certain divine intervention should a white Christmas bring down the party atop innocent bystanders attending a 3D printing convention.

    (more sarcasm)
    I am not saying they have no humor or are oppressive, but I think they are not exactly neutral either, if you know what I mean.

  9. radii on October 13, 2013, 11:42 pm

    Maybe Aisles needs a surveillance-proof bunker in PCN&R just like he has at Fox News to plot out his propaganda creations, and he can hire only attractive females and put them in skirts in the window too – maybe some flashy graphics as well

    Aisles is a clown – a dangerous clown, but a clown nonetheless and he exemplifies exactly how the right seeks to impose their views upon everyone else

  10. traintosiberia on October 14, 2013, 2:23 pm

    Same thing happened to WSJ . In 1999 it was open and eager to push US government to start negotiations with Iran ,open business ,and explore oil,and bring Iran back to US sphere of influences without regime change. Murdoch bought it and strange things happened.

  11. HRK on October 14, 2013, 5:57 pm

    It attacks the Tiny Mites football players…[!]

    Obviously, the gravamen of his argument.

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