Roger Ailes probably should probably hire a new joke writer.
The Fox News president made headlines Friday after taking an inexplicable — and not particularly witty — dig at CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien.
The comment came during an appearance at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Thursday. Ailes was on campus as part of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Roy H. Park Distinguished Lecture Series, but one particular comment from Ailes wasn't particularly distinguished at all.
During an after-lecture interview with student journalists Eliza Kern and Steve Norton, Ailes referred to O'Brien — who anchors the CNN morning news show "Starting Point" — as "that girl that's named after a prison."
Presumably, Ailes was referring to the Soledad Correctional Training Facility in Monterey County, Calif. It's not yet clear why Ailes would believe that O'Brien was named after the facility — or why he would think that students at the University of North Carolina would be particularly familiar with the California prison system.
At any rate, O'Brien cleared the air on the matter via her Twitter account Friday morning. Replying to a tweet asking if she was, in fact, named after a prison, O'Brien replied, "Of course not. Maria de la Soledad means the Virgin Mary."
Whew; glad that's settled.
Fox and CNN have not yet responded to TheWrap's request for comment.
During his lecture, Ailes discussed myriad topics that didn't involve the supposed origins of O'Brien's moniker. He also addressed the Fox employee who had been serving as a "mole" to the web site Gawker (" there are some real, ethical, serious questions about it,” Ailes offered) and GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, who has recently been critical of Fox News, for which he served as commentator before throwing his hat into the 2012 campaign.
Gingrich took a dig at his former employer, Ailes offered, because he's 'trying to get a job at CNN because he knows he isn’t going to get to come back to Fox News.”'
Somehow, Ailes managed to avoid referring to Gingrich as "that guy who salamanders are named after."