... I think that my primary qualification for running a news channel is that I don't have a degree in journalism. I have life experience that goes pretty far beyond all that.
LAMB: You know that drives people crazy when you say that, in our business.
AILES: Well, it drives them crazy because they don’t like to think that life experience is the equivalent. But I know people who have been to journalism schools. I speak at journalism schools. I’ve known journalists. I’ve been on the opposite side of journalists from time to time. I know how they think. And I actually think life experience matters. And I ran a business channel before I did this, so it was business news, but view business news as a part of news.
LAMB: How would you define journalism?
AILES: Journalism is a collection of stories, editing them and presenting them to the people in some fair manner with as many facts as you can muster to get it through to people. It’s a pretty simple craft. It’s not brain surgery. It’s simple but it’s not easy. And to do it right is hard work.
LAMB: What do they teach in journalism school?
AILES: Well, I think they get too political from time to time. I think they draw conclusions for students, at least many of the ones that I’ve talked to. They don’t necessarily teach them the simple things of gather all the facts, present all the facts. I think in many cases they have agendas.
I was asked by a university to give them some money, and I said -- I went to the university and I taught a couple of classes and I interviewed a bunch of students and I said, I’m not going to give you any money until you can graduate somebody who likes America
. It’s not a bad country, you know. And I said, As soon as you get me someone like that, I’ll give you some money.
Based on what they’re learning, you’d think we live somewhere else.
LAMB: What evidence did you have at that school that the teachers did not like America?
AILES: Everything is negative. Everything is about -- look, 95 percent of our people are working, the other 5 percent are basically pretty well taken care of by the government. Health care is not bad here. Bill Clinton did all right under it. Most people who want surgery don’t go to Canada, they try to come here. This is a country where everybody is trying to get in and nobody is trying get out.
So it just occurs to me that some of that ought to be taught in context. Not that we don’t have problems, not that we don’t have deep problems in our cities, poverty and some other things, but this is the society that has cured and will continue to cure many of those problems. And I think that the context of all that has to be taught. And I don’t see it being taught very often.
LAMB: If you were to start your own journalism school, how would you teach it?
AILES: I would just teach to do the facts, be fair, make sure that you’ve got the same weigh if there is more than one point of view to every point of view. I always tell our journalists, reach out to a point of view you don’t agree with and make sure it’s in that story.
It’s simple stuff, but you have to do it. And I see the other networks -- I saw David Westin the other day take a shot at Fox News. Now David is the process of trying to turn himself into Fred Friendly, he’s a corporate lawyer who’s trying to be a great journalist. But he has got some problems.
He’s the guy who wanted Leonardo DiCaprio to be a journalist for him. He’s the guy who had his head of politics during the election basically come out and say they didn't have to be fair, they should support Kerry in the debates. I find that odd.
I think David's got a lot of work to do in house before he goes out taking a shot at us.