Howard Kurtz has an interesting piece on Fox News chief Roger Ailes and the Republican operative’s efforts to “steer the election agenda one more time,” which has plenty of notable tidbits. But I was especially struck by Ailes’ cognitive dissonance.

As the Fox News leader sees it, the Republican cable news network isn’t “in someone’s pocket.” What’s more, he’s convinced that “the mainstream press” will push negative pieces about the Republican presidential candidates as a precursor to killing them off.”

Ailes added, “America used to be able to get straight journalism.” The irony apparently went unnoticed.

Ailes has a blunt rejoinder to those who say he runs a biased outfit: “Every other network has given all their shows to liberals. We are the balance.” Even MSNBC morning host Joe Scarborough, a former GOP congressman, “tacks to the center,” Ailes complains, and “doesn’t act like a conservative.”

That’s quite a paragraph. Ailes rejects allegations of bias, but he freely admits being the “balance” against “liberals,” and criticizes a former conservative congressman who gets three hours a day on MSNBC for not being conservative enough.

The same piece explained that Ailes feels compelled to bring in Shep Smith for “a friendly talk” when he backs aspects of the Obama administration’s record, and pushes the Fox News team to run pieces against government regulations, telling producers that bureaucrats have hired Ph.D.s to “sit in the basement and draw up regulations to try to ruin your life.”

This guy laments the rarity of “straight journalism” in America?

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.