Considering the filth-in-human-form known as Roger Ailes, the despicable lead character in “The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News — and Divided a Country” (ISBN: 978-0-8129-9285-4), you might expect to come away from each chapter feeling demeaned. Instead, author Gabriel Sherman just leaves you shaking your head in shock and shame.
Stupidity. That’s the reason something as vile as Roger Ailes can succeed in America. We are a profoundly stupid nation: undereducated, resolute in our freedom to remain ignorant, and proud of getting things wrong on a massive scale. How else to account for a propaganda TV channel achieving high ratings instead of being laughed off the air? What else explains 60,932,235 people voting for a proven pathological liar in the last presidential election? Well, besides racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and all of the Seven Pillars of Perfidy.
As part of our vast national display of dumbness, enemies of the U.S. can tune into a daily dose of twenty-four solid hours of lies, prevarications, distortions, mendacities, and deceptions known as Fox “News.” Founded by Ailes and bankrolled by Rupert Murdoch, the Faux News channel is nothing more than an electronic polemic for the warped republican point-of-view, consistent in its inconsistency and inhumanity, of interest only to people whose intelligent quotient is below eighty. Not for nothing is the GOP known as the party of stupid. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Let’s look at the story of the loutish voice, one Roger Eugene Ailes…
Reasons, Not Excuses
His father was an S.O.B. who regularly whipped him and his brother with a belt. Ailes seems to have taken the lesson that ugly behavior is what is expected of a man. While it’s clear where he acquired his predilection for bullying and intimidation, it doesn’t appear that Ailes’ misogyny, homophobia, anti-Semitism, racism, and paranoia were derived from his father. In those instances Ailes seems to be a self-made asshole.
Note: Lest readers assume I am being imprecise, the word “asshole” is herein used to describe a person who is abrupt, argumentative, arrogant, condescending, greedy, hateful, hurtful, inconsiderate, intolerant, mean-spirited, rude, self-absorbed, self-promoting, stingy, and tactless. On one level you have to hand it to Roger as a super-achiever. After all, it is rare to encounter someone who combines all of those traits outside of a Bund rally or a GOP strategy session. In the future, English may come to describe such a person as an Ailes.
Propaganda Then and Now
Mass marketing of right-wing nut-job ravings has always been a problem in the United States:
Ailes volunteered for Nixon’s war with the media, offering his services for some of the administration’s most brazen propaganda campaigns… The White House had even bigger plans than one-off documentaries to try to influence the agenda of the national news media. It was developing a blueprint for its own television news service which would produce administration propaganda packaged as independent journalism. Ailes championed the project, titled “A Plan for Putting the GOP on TV News.” In the summer of 1970, a highly detailed fourteen-page memo circulated around the White House outlining the plan, which Haldeman later named “The Capitol News Service”… The memo explained why: “People are lazy. With television you just sit — watch — listen. The thinking is done for you.”
Next, Ailes became involved with Television News, Inc., or TVN, which “was what Fox News became: a conservative news network.” And, just like Faux News, TVN had a RWNJ backer: Joseph Coors, one of the manufacturers of weak beer that is so popular among Americans.
Today, a long list of Koch Brothers front organizations continue the same plan, aided by generous coverage on the Fox fake news channel.
Evil or Monumentally Misguided
It is sometimes difficult to tell Sherman’s full view of the humonoid-shaped pile of excrement. Perhaps this is because of the money and power Ailes has amassed, or perhaps it’s due to the force of his personality. As Robert Kennedy, Jr., put it when describing Ailes: “His views are sincere. He thinks he’s preserving the American way of life. In his heart, he thinks America is probably better off being a white Christian nation… He makes Americans comfortable with their bigotry, their paranoia and their xenophobia.”
By appealing to the twisted, weak, small, afflicted, warped, perverse, frightened, and scurrilous side of humanity, Ailes has been phenomenally successful. He has performed yeoman efforts on behalf of such detritus as Mitch McConnell, Dan Quayle, Phil Gramm, Rudy Giuliani, the tobacco industry, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly, and Rush Limbaugh, to name just a few.
Which means the only possible response to the question “Is Roger Ailes evil or monumentally misguided?” is: both.
When I told someone about preparing to write this book review, they opined that “Roger Ailes represents the circle of life.” How so? I asked. Their reply made me laugh: “Primordial ooze, simple organisms, vertebrates, reptiles, mammals, humans, and now back to primordial ooze.”
Working at Faux News is bizarre even without Ailes offering raises in exchange for sexual favors. The channels’ Media Relations department headed by a toady named Brian Lewis routinely
berated employees for speaking to the press without authorization. They also used laptops with untraceable IP addresses to leak embarrassing stories about wayward Fox hosts and executives (“No fingerprints” was a favorite Lewis-ism). Fox employees worried their conversations were being recorded. After one former producer joked to a friend he was thinking about writing a book about Fox, he got an accusatory phone call from a senior Fox executive about it.
Ailes himself conducted seminars with staffers to skew their warped viewpoint even further. As he put it, “The news is like a ship. If you take your hands off the wheel, it pulls hard to the left.” Which recalls the Stephen Colbert line: “Facts have a liberal bias.” But at Faux News, facts have a troglodyte Ailes.
With Fox News, conservatives had a twenty-four-hour network that allowed them to inject attack lines directly into the political bloodstream. The interplay between political advertising and journalism was an old campaign gambit. When he was a political consultant in the 1980s, Ailes said networks only cared about pictures, conflict, and mistakes. If an ad generated conflict, reporters were bound to cover it as “news.” Fox News was a perpetual conflict machine.
While the book can be quite entertaining and the stories of Ailes’ eyebrow-raising peccadillos are the stuff of tongue-clicking, Sherman most often sticks to the sordid facts about the man:
As a pugnacious television adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush and then as the progenitor of Fox News, Ailes remade both American politics and media. More than anyone of his generation, he helped transform politics into mass entertainment — monetizing the politics while making entertainment a potent organizing force. “Politics is power, and communications is power,” he said after the 1968 election. Through Fox, Ailes helped polarize the American electorate, drawing sharp, with-us-or-against-us lines, demonizing foes, preaching against compromise.
As such, Ailes and his network are quite literally anti-American.
For more information on the book, “The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News — and Divided a Country” visit the publishers site at: http://www.randomhouse.com/book/214243/the-loudest-voice-in-the-room-by-gabriel-sherman .
VIDEO: The Young Turks on “The Loudest Voice in the Room”:
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This original review is Copr. © 2014 by John Scott G and originally published on PublishersNewswire.com – all commercial and reprint rights reserved. No fee or other consideration was paid to the reviewer, this site or its publisher by any third party for this unbiased article. Editorial illustration based on book jacket created by and © Christopher L. Simmons. Reproduction or republication in whole or in part without express permission is prohibited except under fair use provisions of international copyright law.