In an op-ed published on Monday, conservative writer Erick Erickson claimed former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes told him that Elaine Chao, current Transportation Secretary and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), pressured the network into giving Erickson less airtime during the period when he supported McConnell’s primary opponent in the 2014 primary.
Chao served on the Newscorp board and, according to Erickson, saw the conservative commentator as an “unwelcome presence on Fox and not a team player.”
Erickson said that Ailes warned him he would receive fewer appearances if he continued to write about McConnell. Ailes even went so far as to notify Erickson’s boss at RedState that Elaine complained about him.
Ailes, however, complimented Erickson for continuing to write McConnell despite the threat.
“To his credit, Roger later called me and said he appreciated that I was willing to give up air time to keep doing what I believed in,” Erickson said.
“He said most people would have shut up to be on TV,” he added.
Erickson suggested that he changed his view of Fox and saw it as tied to the Republican party:
I had long dismissed the idea that Fox really was tied in some way to the GOP. But the wife of the Senate GOP leader was able to get the head of a TV network to take me off air for writing about her husband at an unrelated website.
Erickson’s op-ed seemed to highlight the divide between establishment Republican party leaders and the grassroots or conservative intellectuals. He joined tea party groups in supporting Bevin, now governor of Kentucky, when he challenged McConnell in 2014.
But McConnell beat Bevin by roughly 25 percentage points in the primary.
President Donald Trump, seen as somewhat of an outsider in Washington, D.C., has publicly criticized McConnell despite Chao’s place in the president’s cabinet.