The man who has served as the personal attorney for Fox News boss Roger Ailes offered some free advice on Monday to Republican presidential candidates upset about how the party’s first three debates have gone down: “Move on.”
Peter Johnson Jr., a longtime Fox News analyst who has also reportedly been a confidant to the powerful Fox chief, appeared on the channel’s “Outnumbered” program to discuss the GOP candidates who have been demanding greater say in how the debates are run and moderated. Fox News hosted the party’s first debate in August. Its sister channel, Fox Business, is scheduled to host the fourth Republican debate next week.
Johnson was asked about candidates demands that debate moderators should meet criteria determined by the candidates. He drew a line in the sand.
“Moderators should meet the specific criteria of fairness and balance. That’s their criteria,” Johnson said. “At some point, the Republican candidates are going to look weaselly and weak if they continue on this parade.”
Johnson’s warning came on the heels of a meeting among representatives of the Republican presidential campaigns about the future of the party’s debates. Initial reports about the meeting from the Washington Post said campaigns didn’t want to anger Ailes, the Fox News chairman and CEO, and therefore the Nov. 10 debate on Fox Business would not be subject to the candidate demands.
“Outnumbered” co-host Sandra Smith introduced the topic during Monday’s show. Smith, along with Fox’s Trish Regan and Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib, are scheduled to host the undercard division of the Nov. 10 debate.
Johnson has a close relationship with the Fox News boss, previously acting as Ailes’ personal attorney. A 2012 profile in New York magazine, headlined “Meet Roger Ailes’s Fox News Mouthpiece,” by reporter Gabriel Sherman described Johnson as a “fixture in Ailes’ office.” (A Fox spokesperson at the time told the magazine at the time: “Roger Ailes does not need Peter Johnson to articulate his positions.”)
Johnson told the “Outnumbered” hosts the candidates should have known last week’s debate hosted by rival channel CNBC was going to be bad because, as he described it, the channel is a “hard liberal network that is devoted and dedicated to taking down the Republican Party.”
“We probably won’t hear about this in the next day or two,” he added. “Because if we do, it’s gonna’ hurt Republicans.”
“Move on, move on!” Johnson said of the campaigns.
Watch the clip: