Like a knight of old riding to the rescue of a damsel in distress, media consultant Roger Ailes called a Chicago news conference yesterday to defend his client, Rep. Lynn Martin (R-Ill.), and accuse her opponent, Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.), of "telling lies about her almost every time he goes on the air."

With Martin trailing by 23 points in a Chicago Tribune poll and with no Martin ads running because of a money squeeze, Ailes did not spare the rhetoric as he sought to jump-start the campaign.

Samples: "People like Paul Simon are the ones who are hurting America . . . . Simon is just being Simon, which unfortunately is being slimy . . . . He's up to his ears in this S&L stuff . . . . He has several ethical problems, and he gets away with it because of that bow tie. . . . And all the time, he's savaging her with negative ads . . . . So far as I can tell, he and the truth have never met . . . . Well, I'm sick and tired of it . . . . He's a complete fraud . . . . If he wants to play, we're going to play. It will all be factual . . . but it will hurt."

Asked if he were speaking for Martin, Ailes said, "She wouldn't use those kinds of words, so I thought I should show up."

Anne Roosevelt, Simon's campaign manager, said she regarded Ailes's performance as a sign that "Lynn Martin is getting awfully desperate. Roger Ailes calling Paul Simon 'slimy' is a little like Saddam Hussein complaining about American aggression," she said.