The most bitter, paranoid, hostile media boss in the business just affirmed all of those character flaws in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. Roger Ailes was questioned about the end of Jon Stewart’s reign as host of The Daily Show and, while pretending to be above it all, he revealed that he is painfully obsessed with Stewart and delighted to see him go.
The interview began with Ailes whining about Stewart being “after us for years,” but insisting that “he never made a dent.” That’s probably why they did so many stories attacking him. Stewart has been the target of some scathing insults on Fox News from everyone from Bill O’Reilly (who called Stewart “a key component of left-wing television,” and his audience “stoned slackers”) to Sean Hannity (who called Stewart “a sanctimonious jackass”). Ailes himself demeaned Stewart as a lefty who hates conservatives, adding that “He’s crazy.” Pretty much every time Stewart did a segment that mentioned Fox News even briefly, the dullards at Fox would retaliate with venomous assaults consuming valuable airtime.
Ailes then demonstrated the signature reality distortions for which Fox News is known.
Ailes: As he faces the end of his career, he’s beginning to wonder: ‘Is this as popular as I’m ever going to get? Is this as much power as I’ll ever have? The one person I could never get rid of was Roger Ailes. I tried. I did everything I could.’ This was all a plea to his lefty friends. I think he’s disappointed that he didn’t accomplish that goal, and we, of course, supplied him with half of his comedy. It’s just a matter of disappointment.
Ailes had to reach deep into his anus to pull out the assertion that Stewart is at the end of his career. Stewart is not retiring. He is leaving one job and moving on to other projects. And as for his future popularity, here are a few people who left The Daily Show but whose careers have soared: Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Steve Carell, Larry Wilmore, Olivia Munn, Ed Helms, Kristen Schaal, and Michael Che.
It is also a notable indication of how ego-driven Ailes is to believe that Stewart’s goal was to get rid of him. In truth, Stewart’s goal was to expose the dishonesty, prejudice, and hypocrisy of Fox News, as well as other mainstream media outlets. And that is a goal he accomplished in spades. Nobody regards Fox News as an impartial news source, not even conservatives. And most people recognize that Fox practices a wholly unethical brand of pseudo-journalism and thinly disguised propaganda for the Republican Party. Stewart deserves some of the credit for that.
One thing that Ailes gets right is that Fox News supplied Stewart with much of his material. But that’s an odd thing to brag about. In effect Ailes is conceding that so much of what he airs on Fox is ludicrous bullspit that is ripe for mockery. Indeed it is, and Stewart took full advantage of it.
Elsewhere in the interview Ailes exhibited a severe case of denial. He said that he never worries about Stewart, but that is contradicted by how knee-jerk reactive he and his network are to anything Stewart says. He said that Stewart couldn’t work for Fox because “He would depress everyone.” Like everyone at Fox isn’t already swimming in despair as they anguish over everything that President Obama does and says. He complained about Stewart’s mood saying that “You can’t say that many negative things about people unless you’re really unhappy about something.” Has Ailes ever looked in the mirror? [Note: that was meant figuratively to point out that he and Fox News are the ones that are relentlessly negative. However, if you want to take literally, that works too]
As a parting shot in the interview, Ailes launches an unprovoked attack on his own corporate family:
Ailes: Knowing [Stewart], he’ll direct movies with sort of a left-wing point of view, and America’s a terrible country. Somebody needs to tell him that 90 percent of what Hollywood puts out already does that. He’s going to have to find another niche.
Somebody needs to tell Ailes that 21st Century Fox is one of the top five film studios in the world (it is #4). It also owns one of the four broadcast television networks (Also #4). It is firmly ensconced in Hollywood and is as responsible for its output as any other studio. Perhaps he is upset that it was Warner Bros., not Fox, that released that despicable, unpatriotic, left-wing movie “American Sniper,” that grossed more than any other film in 2014.
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It is apparent that Roger Ailes is a deeply disturbed and emotionally tormented individual. His loathsome and cantankerous personality is evident in this interview and in the programming on Fox News. It would be almost pitiful but for the damage he causes. And in the end, he must know that Stewart will be remembered far more fondly than he will, and for a far more honorable body of work.