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The below image popped up on Facebook apparently alleging that Roger Ailes, president of the Fox News Channel, said:

"The truth" is whatever people will believe.

Roger Ailes alleged quote

The peculiar placement of the quote marks makes it unclear whether this is intended as a direct quote attributed to Roger Ailes or is just commentary.

Google reveals that Joseph Heller said something very much like this in his 1984 book God Knows:

"The truth is whatever people will believe is the truth. Don't you know history?"

But I can find no reference to Roger Ailes having said this, or anything substantially similar.

  • Sounds bit like paraphrased Consensus gentium, which is rather ancient concept (as old as Plato's works or older). – vartec May 11 '12 at 10:32
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    This doesn't make any assertions to this claim, but on a similar vein, Fox News did go to court for the right of news media to lie. I am doubtful this is a direct quote from Ailes but I wouldn't be surprised in light of this. – maple_shaft May 11 '12 at 11:15
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    " Fox News did go to court for the right of news media to lie" is a huge oversimplification of that case. – DJClayworth May 11 '12 at 13:07
  • statements similar to this are pretty common, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend" from 1962. If he did say something like that it could easily be taken out of context, and even if it wasn't its not exactly a rarity for people to say things like that. "never let the facts get in the way of ..." is also of similar sentiment and is reasonably common. – Ryathal Sep 19 '12 at 14:45
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    @maple_shaft - since that claim has been thoroughly debunked, I'd appreciate it if you removed your misleading comment – user5341 Dec 25 '14 at 18:35
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Most likely he did not. There's no direct evidence (because it's impossible to prove the negative and there's no exhaustive "collection of 100% of things Ailes ever said in print or orally" like there's for someone like George Washington).

Nevertheless, the evidence seems to be on the debunking side:

  1. Most of the time the claim is posted, it's posted with zero details or evidence (e.g. no citation or details of attribution).

    I verified this by following every single link from the first 4 Google pages searching for the quote (there were only 40 search results for me).

  2. The ONLY times any details are provided, they are "he said it in 1984 book" (Example).

    Well, THAT specific claim can be tested... and is false.

    That specific quote can be found in a 1984 book. Except, it was in a book "God Knows" by Joseph Heller, (more well known as the author of "Catch-22"), as can be found on WikiQuote.

    The truth is whatever people will believe is the truth. Don't you know history?

    On the contrary, Ailes' listed Bibliography on Wikipedia has no 1984 books.

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    In short, as Abraham Lincoln said, "don't believe everything you see on Internet" – user5341 Dec 25 '14 at 19:10
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    Thanks for the research. I'm willing to accept this answer, on the (probably permanently) tentative understanding that if evidence is ever found to the contrary, I may reverse my acceptance of this answer. :) – Flimzy Dec 26 '14 at 19:18

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