Governor Terry Branstad today said he’s not going to judge a man who helped him win elections in 1986 and 1990, but Branstad told reporters this morning he’s “disappointed” by the allegations of sexual harassment that have surfaced against Fox News chief Roger Ailes.
“I’m not going to place any judgement on this, but I just know that he’s a very talented man who’s done a lot, certainly, for the conservative movement, building Fox News,” Branstad said during an interview with Iowa reporters in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention. “Fox News has become a real force to be reckoned with.”
Branstad hired Ailes to be his media consultant in two campaigns. Branstad said Ailes put him through the “pepper drill” in 1986 and again in 1990.
“We’d go into New York. He had a studio there and he’d put you in front of a podium, just like a press conference, and fire all kind of mean questions at you,” Branstad said. “And he videoed the whole thing, and then he’d play it back and he’d freeze-frame it. He’s show you your body language, your facial expressions…He’d give you some advice on how to handle that and to look pleasant; have your hands open, not closed…not repeat the accusations so I learned a lot from him.”
National media outlets are reporting 21st Century Fox executives are negotiating an exit deal with Ailes. Two weeks ago a female Fox News anchor filed a lawsuit, accusing Ailes of sexually harassing her, then firing her when she refused his advances. Branstad said none of his campaign staffers complained to him about Ailes 20 years ago.
“No, no,” Branstad told reporters this morning. “In fact, Susan Neely managed the campaign. We had a great relationship (with Ailes) and had no problems.”
Ailes, who is 76, founded Fox News Channel in 1996. Ten years earlier, Ailes crafted a campaign ad that attacked a major policy proposal from Branstad’s Democratic opponent Lowell Junkins. Branstad told reporters that “Junkins Junk Bonds” ad worked, partly, because it “kind of rhymed.”