Roger Ailes dropped dead on Thursday, and much of America felt a wave of relief: His pervy legacy may have insinuated itself into the cultural fabric of Fox News, but at least he and his raw hamburger genitals were gone for good.
It was expected that at least a handful of his acolytes—those who presumably never suffered under him—would mourn his death, and indeed they did. But Rachel Maddow? Rachel fucking Maddow?
The MSNBC host appeared with Access Hollywood’s Natalie Morales and Kit Hoover on Thursday morning to discuss Ailes’ passing. “A good friend of yours, Roger Ailes?” Hoover ventured. “Somewhat of a mentor?”
Maddow did not, as I expected, throw her coffee in Hoover’s face in protest. Instead, she answered affirmatively. Carefully, but affirmatively:
I mean, it’s interesting because we were always obviously on very different ends of the ideological spectrum. But I met Roger years ago, and I went to talk to him about the profession of cable news, because, for all of my differences with him, he kind of invented the genre.
And people I know who worked for him at the time said that he might be open to talking to me about it. And I talked to him about what he thought about my performance on TV. It started what I think became a collegial friendship. He blurbed my book, which was a funny thing. And we stayed in pretty close touch. I considered him to be a friend.
She spoke disparagingly of Ailes’ numerous sexual harassment allegations, acknowledging that they were substantive enough for Fox to get rid of him, “a huge deal given what he did to create that massive company.” Buuuuut (there just had to be a but):
But in addition to that, he was also a lot of other things, and one of the things he was was basically the person who invented this genre in which I and all these other networks now exist.
It’s never been a secret that Ailes and Maddow were buddies. As she mentioned, he blurbed her book! They hung out at the Carlyle! But that was before reports surfaced of his hellacious treatment of women. Could Maddow have known about Ailes’ practice of habitual harassment? It seems alarmingly likely that she might have. She went on, saying that he knew just about everyone in the business:
“Whether it was a negative interaction or a positive interaction, all of us had something to do with him because he was formative in terms of this whole part of American news.”
In conclusion, she said, “my experience with him was professional, and supportive and interesting.” Lucky her.