Roger Ailes, founder and former CEO of FOX News, died on Thursday at age 77. As many think back on his news empire, or his history of sexual harassment, or his legacy in American politics, Bob reflects on the way that Ailes led a siege on liberal values.
Roger Ailes was many things, impresario, political consultant, TV visionary, sexual predator. Most of all, you could actually say he was a pioneer in green energy. In exactly the same way that natural forces of wind, sun, water and geothermal can be harnessed to generate power, Ailes harnessed white grievance and converted it into vast piles of green. As the so-called “great right-wing conspiracy” was coalescing, he saw cash in the seething resentment over civil rights, school prayer, abortion, feminism, immigration, environmentalism, big government and, ultimately, globalism. Ailes knew that the aggrieved represented a huge audience, desperate over assaults on their values and even more desperate to be validated.
FOX News Channel was founded on one great lie, “fair and balanced,” and one great truth, that mainstream news media were voices of liberalism, not of ideology or doctrine or partisanship but of a journalistic mentality that largely overlaps with progressive thinking. Reform, truth to power, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, liberal democracy is the consensus of the developed world but every incremental American step toward it was grist for FOX’s mill. And along that path, its founding truth yielded two decades of fierce propaganda and what they now call “alternate facts.” FOX News Channel, the house organ of the political right, worked in lockstep with the administration of George W. Bush and now the dumpster fire that is the Trump White House.
The obit writers will call Trump's election and the billion-dollar FOX franchise Roger Ailes’ legacy. I’d call it - a bill of indictment.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Coming up, what is the responsible conservative media to do?