The conservative media world is mourning the death of its patron saint, Roger Ailes. The founder and former CEO of Fox News passed away on Thursday just as his latest project, the Donald Trump presidency, was entering intensive care.
Ailes will surely be remembered for having built a television network that relied on glitz and glamour to dress up its partisan propaganda as ultra-biased fake news. But he will also be remembered for dividing the nation into hostile political camps by transforming his right-leaning viewers into an army of misinformed, pseudo-patriotic zealots.
Ironically, Ailes’ professional end came as a result of a string of allegations of sexual harassment and abuse. The channel that self-branded as the TV home of family values was, in reality, a broken home that created much suffering and personal loss. Fox News embodied a culture of misogyny that bore deep into its ranks. Following Ailes out the door were its biggest star, Bill O’Reilly, and his own successor, Bill Shine. But that wasn’t until after the damage was done. Female on-air personalities like Gretchen Carlson, Megyn Kelly, Laurie Dhue, Andrea Tantaros, Rudi Bakhtiar, and Julie Roginsky, had all walked out under duress.
Fox News is now struggling to maintain its status as the top cable news network. In recent weeks it has been losing to both MSNBC and CNN in the critical advertising demographic of 25-54 year olds. That is partly due to the unpopularity of its primary benefactor, Donald Trump. American news consumers are switching to networks where they can get more honest accounts of Trump’s corruption and incompetence.
There is a poignant melodramatic quality to the fact that Ailes died less than a year after his termination from Fox News. It’s as if he only lived to spread Republican dogma and smear liberals. When he lost the platform to do that, he gave up.
His Fox News family was understandably torn up by the news. There were tears on almost every program from Fox and Friends to Shepard Smith’s afternoon broadcast. But perhaps the eulogy that best expressed to deranged Fox mindset was delivered by Ainsley Earhardt whose tribute asserted that:
“Many people out there would say that he saved this country by starting the Fox News channel.”
Well, if you say so. This is not the day to point out how utterly delusional that is.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.