Roger Ailes, the inimitable one, declares a mellowing Fox News!
Comes forth a man who earns a reported $23 million per year, a man who helped elect a few GOP presidents, and a man who has presided over a cast of characters who have practiced ‘television yellow journalism’. Ailes’s stint with Fox News can be categorized in no other way than ’yellow journalism’.
Ailes comes forth with an admission that Fox News is tempering and moving away from a Far-right media broadcast network. In an article written for Howard Kurtz (also of the Daily Beast), a re-positioning Ailes lays-out what must be an order from Ruppert Murdoch. There is absolutely no way that Ailes could or would dare step-out with the re-positioning without full support from Murdoch.
As a broadcast network for the Right, I can’t imagine Ailes stating the following to anyone, especially a reporter.
It was partpolitical spectacle, part American Idol, part YouTube extravaganza, a pure Roger Ailes production—and the latest sign that the Fox News chairman is quietly repositioning America’s dominant cable-news channel.
Hours before last week’s presidential debate in Orlando, Ailes’s anchors sat in a cavernous back room, hunched over laptops, and plotted how to trap the candidates. Chris Wallace said he would aim squarely at Rick Perry’s weakness: “How do you feel about being criticized by some of your rivals as being too soft on illegal immigration? Then I go to Rick Santorum: is Perry too soft?”
HUFFPOST Media AolNews, has published a condensed and linked article that is truly worth a read.
I observed the re-positioning about two weeks back. My viewing of Fox news over a weekend led me to the conclusion that Ailes is finally admitting. A few (Fox News) shows actually held my attention for about half of the broadcast. That level of viewing of Fox News is significantly more that I have ever given that network. So, something maintained an unusual period of exposure to a network that I consider to be a Tea Party electronic media outlet.
The real question is, why?
Why has Murdoch ordered a slight toning-down of a multimillion dollar media outlet that broadcast his personal beliefs and inclinations. The articles state that Murdoch and Ailes talk about politics almost daily. As I preview the current climate for Murdoch, I see a few things that might be behind the toning-down.
The still developing, yet somewhat quiet, phone hacking scandal may have fissures into the Untied States. Is it possible that too much attention and probing (albeit political) could yield ‘tapping’ of people who are politicians? I almost hate that I wrote that last sentence. But, one must realize that we are talking about an organization that investigations may validate attempts or actual influencing of British politics.
Is it possible that Murdoch sees a no-win political climate with the current cast of presidential aspirants? Let’s face it, moguls know how to quickly and thoroughly cloak themselves like an Octopus as they view prospects for revenue, or loss of revenue. Even right-wing moguls rely on everyday folks like you and me as their ‘fields of revenue’. Does he see a changing view of the Tea Party, or a changing view of Sarah Palin? Maybe, the credit rating drop and prospects of being on the wrong side as the Tea Party pushes the nation to the brink of recession or to a government shutdown, bothers Murdoch.
Regardless of reason, the move to tone-down is not based in humane and professionalism as news media network. Hardly! Also in the reading is an admission that once Barack Obama won the 2008 election, someone associated with Fox News went ballistic. You have to know who that was and it was probably not an on-air personality. UUUUUM, worthy of comment but probably no need.
Ailes is a man who, as previously, reported was at the root of some of the most heinous political ad campaigns ever broadcast. He was the ‘idea-man’ and developer of the ‘Willie Horton’ campaign ad for George H. W. Bush. I have reason to believe that he was behind the ‘swift boat’ political ads targeting John Kerry in 2004. You have to admit that if Fox News has a history of ‘for affect tape editing’, Ailes was part of that practice. When the Fox News producer a was caught on cell phone ‘providing cheer leading to a Tea Party crowd just before an on-air segment, you have to accept that Ailes was behind that behavior.
From that Roger Ailes to one who admits, now, that he does not mind the public ‘thinking that’ Beck was fired’. The change does not sound like, look like, nor smell like a duck.
If you read the extensive Newsweek link, you will read a comment about all major Fox News on-air personalities. Ailes comments about Beck, Palin, Shepard Smith and Brett Baier. Ailes speaks extensively about his top media ‘mouths’: Hannity and O’Reilly. The information is so intimate and frank, I wonder about the re-positioning as a tactic to a greater end. Reading about how Hannity and O’Reilly hate each other is interesting. And, reading about how O’Reilly might be jealous of Hannity’s radio contract and how Hannity hates Limbaugh, is simply jaw dropping.
For Fox viewers, who soak up their shows and buy into each and every nuance of their personalities, you will find Ailes article very enlightening. He spends far too much time on Meghan Kelly and actually reveals that O’Reilly re-positioned himself because Beck had grabbed the ‘complete nut-case’ audience.
As I have now read the strategy from Ailes/Murdoch and coupled those revelations with my observations of the strategy a few weeks back, I am left in thought. How will MSNBC relate to the change. Will O’Donnell temper his observation and (digging) attacks on O’Reilly?
The broadcasts at Fox News offer a great deal of material for MSNBC, how will they react to the toning-down. Is Murdoch, by actions, admitting to losing the information battle (If one cares about accuracy in news)?
Another set of thought goes to Comedy-Central and Saturday Night Live; the ‘killings kings of comedy may have to seek other sources for their work.
After all reflection, thought and contemplation, I will revert to my usual pessimism about the political and social right. I am also not about to mellow on my observation and comment about people like Murdoch, Ailes and the Kochs.
My conclusion? Murdoch is reacting to revelations about his ‘undercover and underworld’ work in the U.K. He is also re-positioning for sake of revenue. Two last points.
I see a Trojan Horse in Murdoch/Ailes strategy to tone-down.
I predict a non-renewal of contract for the pop up here; pop up there’ Sarah Plain (not right away but forthcoming or “soon come” as they say in Jamaica).