‘Gandhi & Martin Luther King were great womanizers’: That time Roger Ailes interviewed Joan Baez
12:44 pm

Fox News founder Roger Ailes died last week, thus escaping any future ramifications in this terrestrial realm stemming from his alledged proclivity for sexual harassment, a tendency attested to by many accusers, including Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson, and Andrea Tantaros.

Ailes was forced to resign as president of Fox News last summer after news of the sexual harassment claims became national news. Just a month ago, it was reported that Fox News is on track to pay more than $85 million in settlements connected to the sexual harassment allegations involving Ailes and Bill O’Reilly and possibly others.

Ailes’ inappropriate libido aside, his death afforded many observers an opportunity to observe that more than almost anyone in the American landscape, Ailes had an enormous impact on American news and politics over the last 20 years, and almost all of it tilted the country in a partisan, shrill, and stupid direction.

If Mike Judge’s prescient movie Idiocracy ever had a spirit animal in real life, it’s Roger Ailes. Except that Ailes was no idiot, far from it: he was a certifiable genius when it came to manipulating dummies.

Before 1990, Ailes’ primary identity was that of a cunning if somewhat morally suspect media consultant for Republican candidates. Together with Lee Atwater, Ailes was credited with achieving the election of George H.W. Bush over Michael Dukakis in 1988, in a contest that featured no shortage of not-so-subtle race-baiting from the Republican side.

In 1996 Rupert Murdoch hired Ailes and asked him to helm the new right-wing news channel he was putting together. The result was Fox News and politics since then has been dominated by older white people under the hypnotic influence of a never-ending parade of charlatans and assholes such as Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Steve Doocy, assisted by literally dozens and dozens of nearly interchangeable leggy blonde women. In Fox Land, every black man is about to commit vote fraud and/or violent uprising, every Muslim is a terrorist hell-bent on blowing up a local library in rural Nebraska, and every trans person with a full bladder is a crypto-pedophile. Roger Ailes invented that kind of TV news, and it’s no exaggeration to say that Ailes made it possible for Donald Trump to become president.

For that last fact alone, his name should be scorned in the annals of history until the end of time. May he rot in Hell.

Interestingly, right before Ailes landed at Fox News, there was a brief period where he was not actively being a scumbag and destroying the country. From 1994 to 1996 he was president of a news channel that had spun off from CNBC called America’s Talking, and Ailes himself had an hour-long interview show called Straight Forward in which he tried to pass himself off as a relatively normal person—conservative, sure, but not a fire-breathing troglodyte.

His bid to be a “normal” talk show host was convincing enough that he even had the arch-liberal folksinger Joan Baez on as a guest on Straight Forward for a charged yet basically pleasant couple of segments with a minimum of serious leftie-baiting. The program ran on December 15, 1994; Baez was there to publicize a 1993 CD collection called Rare, Live, and Classic. In the intro to the program, Ailes states that he is a big fan of Baez’ music and admires her even though he dislikes her positions—“like Ronald Reagan,” she stuck to her principles over the decades and he can respect that!

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider
12:44 pm
Fox News: The Werther’s Original of cable news networks

A common refrain seen in comments across the blogosphere of late is that an Obama win in November would be the best thing that could possibly happen for “opposition” Fox News.

I’m not so sure about that.

Even as but a “casual consumer” of what Fox News has on offer—I’m someone who usually only sees the gnarliest Fox clips belched up by the Internet—I can’t help but notice just how fucking tired it all seems lately. The same people saying the same damned things over and over and over again. It goes without saying that Fox News viewers tend not to be the sharpest, or best informed, marbles in the bag, but I would imagine that even those low IQ Jim-Bobs and Billy-Joes are getting tired of hearing the same people saying the same damned things over and over and over again. The obvious repetition of Republican talking points and constant, never-wavering anti-Obama kvetching—can it really go on like this for another four years without a major reinvention and a totally clean slate of new faces?

Fox’s audience share, while still strong, has been falling for years. Even if its audience doesn’t exactly desert Fox News, it’s an unavoidable fact of the yawning grave awaiting us all that their audience is dying off in great number with every passing year. Cranky old white guys aren’t being generated by the gene pool fast enough anymore. Certainly not in number enough for the Republican Party to survive, that’s seems demographically assured, so why should Fox News be any different?

Not only is Fox News becoming mind-numbingly repetitive—or even MORE mind-numbingly repetitive than it’s been for years, I should clarify—which is quite difficult, if you think about it, being a business which should theoretically thrive on novelty, it’s increasingly feeling completely anachronistic, like seeing the Spice Girls turning up again at the Olympics. Moving forward who is going to advertise on the network save for Geritol, Depends adult diapers or those “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” informercials? Fox News has a demographic every bit as, um, finite, shall we say, as print newspaper subscribers.

Fox News saw an overall 17% decline in viewership in March 2012 and there was a 27% drop with younger viewers from the year before. In May, Fox News was down about 21% during prime time in the 25-to-54 group. The only demographic sticking with Fox seem to be Social Security beneficiaries. I’d love to see the numbers for the percentage of Fox News viewers puttering around with portable oxygen tanks or who drive one of those scooters you always see advertised on the network.

Sean Hannity? Sarah Palin? Laura Ingraham? Ann Coulter? Who the fuck cares anymore what these people think? We already know. They must be bored saying this shit. Are you in the least bit curious, or do you really wonder how much Sean Hannity will hate on anything and everything that Obama says or does? Do you expect any surprises from his show? EVER? I mean this is some of the worst, weakest shit on offer. No one watches CNN anymore (it’s good for the treadmill as far as I am concerned) but compared to Fox News, it’s like at least they try!

Doesn’t this clip from last night’s O’Reilly Factor feel like you’re watching some sort of “nostalgia” news channel for old people? How much longer will Fox News president Roger Ailes think Sarah Palin is doing his network more good than harm?  AIles should try to renew his network’s mission and inject some fresh blood into the team before it’s too late. If he’s legacy-conscious, it’s imperative that he act now. Ailes needs to get rid of the deadwood and dead-brained Fox “talent” who still think it’s 2009. If he doesn’t reinvent Fox News soon, at 72, he runs the risk of seeing his brainchild croak before he does.

Posted by Richard Metzger
02:45 pm