Brian Stelter: Do GOP Candidates Have to ‘Kiss Roger Ailes’ Ring’ to Become Frontrunner?

Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter asked Sunday morning just how much influence NewsCorp owner Rupert Murdoch and Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes have over selecting the GOP frontrunner.

The question isn’t too far out there — many cite Murdoch’s dislike of Romney cooled the station’s coverage of the 20123 candidate, and claimed Murdoch was giving Romney an icy glare last week as he briefly considered a third term.

“Roger Ailes controls the largest block of reliable Republican voters,” said Gabriel Sherman, author of an unauthorized biography on Ailes and Fox News. “These candidates are already courting Ailes, trying to get on his good side, to try to get reliable coverage going into primary season.”

“If you want to be a Republican frontrunner,” Sherman said, “you gotta get the prime spots on Fox, you gotta get the prime bookings, and Ailes is that ring you need to kiss.”

Conservative commentator Matt Lewis thought this was nonsense. “In terms of them having some sort of conspiracy to help boost one candidate or another — look, if [the Fox brass] had their way the Republican Party would be a pro-immigration party right now.”

But the Times article linked to above did note that Murdoch has ways of influencing the primary, drawing attention to longshot candidates like Ben Carson, or swooning over Jeb Bush.

Watch the clip below, via CNN:

[Image via screengrab]

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