Roger Ailes is the man who set up and still runs Fox News network for Rupert Murdoch. He’s a famously harsh political operator with acknowledged skills in capturing the popular mood. When he first set up Fox news and tried to pretend it was not a shamelessly manipulative political vehicle for the right, he built the network to a position where it challenged more established competitors for no 1. Now 10 years after his networks was outed as the ultimate tool of the ultimate political operator it is often seen as as irrelevant to the mainstream. However its devoted core audience of older white Republican voters continue to lap up the appalling right wing bilge – seemingly with little realisation of the manipulation behind it and many of the ‘TV generation’ seem so obsessed as to to base their world view on it.
This article is from a relatively supportive review of an official biography of him. Many of the links below are less generous – some indicate the darker depths he is prepared to plunge to and some the frothing incandescent rage he manages to produce in liberal Americans.
The Loudest Voice In The Room: Gabriel Sherman’s take on Fox News’ Roger Ailes reclaims the notion of ‘fair and balanced’
REVIEWED BY JOHN SEMLEY Published Friday, Jan. 24 2014, 3:23 PM EST
Title The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News – and Divided a Country
It was 8:49 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001. Sharon Fain, Fox News’s Atlanta bureau chief, was on an editorial conference call when she saw something on a monitor near her desk. “Oh my God,” she uttered, alerting her senior producers to the story of the decade, “turn on CNN.”
It would be four full minutes – ages in the hurried tempo 24-hour news cycle – before Fox News made mention of American Airlines Flight 11 fateful crash through the World Trade Center’s north tower. What traction the network lost breaking the story, they reclaimed defining it. 9/11 was a make-or-break moment for Fox News. And for its founding chief executive officer, Roger Ailes.
They acted fast.
As Gabriel Sherman puts it in his new book about Ailes, on Fox in the hours after the 9/11 attacks, “the defining tenets of the Bush years were coming quickly into relief: the with-us-or-against us defiance; the battering of political opponents as unpatriotic and unmistakable undercurrent of Christian messianism.” Within 30 seconds of another plane striking the south tower, anchor Jon Scott had named Osama bin Laden as public enemy number one. Later that same day, Ailes had instituted “the crawl,” that steady stream of bullet point headlines that rolls across the bottom of the screen.
The crawl is one of those things now so essential to cable news that, until reading about it in Sherman’s book, would never have occurred to me needed to be invented. The crawl gives a sense of news happening, of narrative unfolding, literally revealing itself as it flows from right to left. It gives cable news networks the license to state that they’re ostensibly reporting the news in a conventional, meaningful sense in the guise of “un-biased” bullet points. As it ticks by, it keeps the pulse of cable news’ cynicism.
Remarkably, The Loudest Voice In The Room doesn’t resort to this same level of cynicism. It’s not the nastiest book about Ailes – that’d be 2012’s The Fox Effect, by David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt of media watchdog Media Matters. But Sherman’s book distinguishes itself in its diligent characterization of Ailes as something more than just some political P.T. Barnum.