Back when lawyer jokes were big, I remember the joke: Q. Why are laboratory scientists switching from rats to lawyers for their experiments? A. There’s some things the rats just won’t do. The reason I’m a liberal is that I believe that sometimes the reason people ascend to the highest Galtian heights is that they are willing to do some things most people wouldn’t.
Conservatives would always have us believe that it’s their primal scent or patriotism or understanding of nominal dollars and regulatory capture (unless the rich people were liberals), but I think some people get rich simply by being bigger assholes than anyone else is willing to be. So is with Roger Ailes, the subject of an excellent recent Esquire profile.
What kind of man wins all the time? What kind of man gives his country, in roughly this order, Mike Douglas, Richard Nixon, Tom Snyder, Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America,” the Willie Horton ad, the ad in which Michael Dukakis rides around in a tank and looks like a chipmunk, the presidency of George H. W. Bush, CNBC, Fox News (upstart-insurgent edition), Fox News (airwaves-of-the-empire edition), Fox News (“Obama sux” edition), and Fox News (Tea Party edition)? More pointedly, what kind of man figures out at age twenty-seven how to use television to legitimize Richard Nixon and then at age seventy to legitimize Sarah Palin?[….]
He asks for quarter when he has given none, asks for sympathy when he has offered none, asks for fairness when he has been “fair and balanced,” asks for consideration while admitting that the only consideration he has ever shown is consideration for his mission, whatever that may be.
And yet of course there are many ready to hail him as a genius:
There’s a professor at the Columbia University School of Journalism by the name of Dick Wald. Yeah, yeah, we know — Roger Ailes doesn’t give a CNN ratings share about what some professor at Columbia journalism school has to say. Indeed, whenever he’s asked what qualifies him to be the head of a major television-news network, he gives the same answer: “I dug ditches for a living, there are no parties that I want to go to, and I didn’t go to Columbia journalism school.” But Professor Wald is no mere don, no mere pointy-headed practitioner of the liberal arts. He used to be the president of NBC News. He likes Roger Ailes. And if you ask him the secret of Mr. Ailes’s success, he’ll say it’s pretty simple: “Roger, in many ways, is just more competent. He just does it better. The anchors are better. The crispness of the reporting is better. The anchors don’t interrupt, the shows move along, and the point of view is clear. It’s just a good product. Roger found an area in which he could reach each audience member individually. That’s the big difference between Fox and CNN.”
All this shit about his “good product”. How hard is it to have buxom blondes describe titillating stories with a information crawl at the bottom?
I am not confident that our society will survive Fox News. I think we will, but only because of demographic changes. But, hey, Ailes won, pin a medal on him and build a statue. All hail the Galtian hero. He’s worth millions, what are you worth?
That whole thing says more about the Columbia School of Journalism and journalism in general than anything else.
That’s like a med school training doctors to be “just like Joseph Mengele.”
You know, because he rose to the top of his field and was powerful.
Careful. If you’re going to put buxom, titillating and crawl in the same sentence, you may lure Rich Lowry over here.
Really? I always heard it was because the lab interns would develop emotional attachments to the rats.
What I don’t get is their bias is so barely concealed; some bleachblondebabe on Fox today was talking about how North Korea has become more of a problem in the last 2 years; I presume that is dog whistle for “African American in the White House”. Even “fair and balanced” can be “obviously biased” after a while (unless their audience is dumb as a brick; speaking of DAAB, how many person hours were wasted on HCR repeal over the past few days?).
There’s something other rats won’t do, this rat got there first, and he was a lucky rat.
He’s worth a lot more than Einstein because he made a lot more money than Einstein, who wasn’t that great at all because he was just a patent clerk! Way to go, “Einstein”!
Assuming future generations of conservatives don’t learn how to split or absorb sizable chunks of the Latino vote.
I realize how insane this sounds now, but a hundred years ago, you’d have been equally insane to suggest that Catholic Americans would be evenly split with roughly half of them enthusiastically supporting economic royalism, union-busting, extreme nativism and the like. I mean, from a historical perspective, it’s friggin INSANE that the institution of the Catholic Church is in bed with the GOP as often as it is.
Villago Delenda Est
Dr. Goebbles put out a “good product” too.
Look where that got him…
Fox News…Are they still doing Hooter girl Fridays?
(Am I rich yet?)
One key difference between Fox News, which was built by Ailes a ruthless right-winger, and CNN, which was built by Ted Turner, a tough but liberal-leaning capitalist, is that Turner eventually sold out his interest in CNN to people more interested in it as a media business than its original mission of providing objective, live news, whereas Fox has never left the ownership of people (specifically Rupert Murdoch) who are business folks for sure but remain strongly invested in the original ideological mission of the network as well.
Query what would have happened had Turner stuck it out with CNN but Murdock had sold Fox to corporate investors simply interested in it as a media business proposition. It would still be right-leaning, but much less consistently so. CNN would not have morphed into such a whore of inside Washington conventional wisdom and mindless transmission of talking points had Turner stayed principal owner.
You know, that’s just bullshit. I wonder how much he’s getting paid to shovel out this stuff.
@slag: I can’t abide reporting that’s not crisp. Make it crisp I always say.
When there is complexity on a subject, you just can’t beat a good, crisp report.
Did these people think Frank Burns was the hero on MASH?
Villago Delenda Est
Well, Catholicism has been, ever since Voltaire came along and called for the use of the entrails of priests to strangle kings, wildly reactionary as an institution. After a brief flirt with the 20th Century under John XXIII, it was back to business as usual.
So American Catholics, being basically working class and “ethnic”, are the exception to the overall rule. After all, Catholics have never been in charge in the US…and now enough of them have left the primordial sewers of the proletariat to become solid reactionaries.
Only when Sarah Palin is available.
I’m pretty sure that’s who Bill O’Reilly modeled his teevee persona after, so I’m going to say yes.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a Harvard Business School Case study on Ailes and Fox News, extolling their virtues. Remind me, when were we taken over by the Ferengi.
I found myself wondering, “compared to what?!?” The Springfield High closed-circuit Super-Dooper Eyewitness News and Hip-Hop Dance Team?
I’ve never seen evidence of Fox’s desire to push quality product.
Wrong ’em Boyo. Nice.
The secret of getting crisp reporters is finding a large enough frying pan.. and even then, there’s still some sad bastard who whines about how you are using too much garlic.
@Chris: Of course, the GOP will learn to spit the Latino vote. Or if not the Latino vote, then some other aspect of the Dem coalition. (Or if not that, then the GOP will be replaced by another party that can form a coherent coalition.) Because that’s the only way to be a viable party. But in order to split the Latino vote (or some other aspect of the Dem coalition), the GOP is going to have to change in some fashion. That’s how they split the Catholic vote in the first place.
Re-posting from this a.m., ’cause it’s more on topic.
@morzer: Fried reporter is really just an excuse to eat aioli.
Heh. I saw what you did there, DougJ DougJson.
@cmorenc: Yes, and I very much imagine that Turner regretted his decision to sell to Time Warner once it became clear that he would have no role at the company.
Shorter Dick Wald: Roger Ailes makes the train run on time.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
I don’t watch al Foxeera, but I’ve seen enough clips to know that this is nonsense. They don’t interrupt friendlies, of course, but O’Reilly’s purple-faced, vein-popping-out interruptions are the stuff of legend. Stewart had a clip last night of the one who looks like Ed Begley’s dim-witted nephew trying to throw a Dem off-message. Seems to me poor old Greta Van Susteren is a constant attempt at stammering interruption.
As to “speaking to each viewer individually”, you aim at white, older-than-middle-aged and anxious, tell them what they want to hear, and with that wide net you bring in, on your best days, 2 to 3 million viewers? IIANM, Katie Couric is said to be “struggling” with more than twice the viewers O’Reilly gets. A google search tells me that Friday Night Lights got about the same amount of viewers as O’Reilly, and it got bounced to satellite, not even basic cable. Burn Notice (as in “What is Burn Notice?” skit on SNL) gets twice the viewers O’Reiily does.
I suspect Ailes success in making Fox a political success has more to do with timing. He went all in just when Tim and Cokie and the gang were reaching saturation of ref-working (not to say bitch-slapping) aimed at them for thirty years, and just when Bill Clinton got a blow-job (or two, or…). Russert, who bragged about being Rush Limbaugh’s favorite anchor, for the last ten years of his career would pounce on a Fox News “people are saying…” story like it was an unguarded bacon cheeseburger. Perhaps not such an eye-popper that the former network president who admires Roger Ailes owes his place on the Cape to having remained in the good graces of Jack Welch.
And from a comment on the previous thread, it seems more people are finally starting to agree with you.
Take that, Mr. Columbia School of Journalism!
I have always believed, and from some experience of growing up around congenital wingnuts, that when the onion is fully peeled on your average right winger, what you will find is someone, nearly in total, who view this country and democracy through a single lens of it’s existence, being for the sole purpose of accumulating as much personal wealth as possible.
All the other bullshit, with some exceptions of personal belief, like with single issue abortion opponents, some of them, or the fairly few true believer neo cons, is nothing but for this single purpose, mo money for me, and likewise singularly opposed to anything that might inhibit this purpose.
And this is true for those who do succeed in getting a degree of personal wealth, and those who are satisfied to just dream about it. And from my own family, I concluded it is really about something deeper, a sort of personal constitutional fear of mortality, and that somehow, the bully forward, of a lifetime of scrambling for this wealth, and stomping on anything or anyone that gets in the way, will somehow sate that persistent existential fear of death, the inevitable.
And like clockwork, several of my country club winger relatives, when their time was growing near, went through a metamorphosis of sorts, from being hard charging unsentimental assholes, into lost souls consumed with fear and at a loss to reconcile the life they led, though with cash security, devoid of human introspection. Some turned to religion, and experienced some redemption, while others just drank themselves to death.
I don’t believe there is a conservative ideology. I believe there is a personal wealth ideology, and therein lies much of our national problem, at it’s core.
BTW, DougJ, fwiw, you have sparkled lately with thought provoking posts/
@JGabriel: That’s when they play Hide the Guns in the Bible.
Davis X. Machina
The Republic survived Hearst, when people took three newspapers a day, every day.
It’ll survive Fox. Fox News isn’t remotely as pervasive as print was in print’s heyday, and it isn’t any more partisan or biased.
If I was in charge I’d make Michael Moore the Dean of the CSJ.
Students might learn something.
Of course Taibbi would be good too. He could teach his popular course “Writing Fucking Investigative Articles About Lying Fucking Assholes.”
Well, to be fair, Turner was often his own special brand of successful asshole. More likable though. And, he did marry Jane, which pissed off many other assholes and made me like him slightly.
Web sites that monitor Fox News so you don’t have to do it
Villago Delenda Est
Mammon worship. That’s what it boils down to. Every other possible value is subsumed into the worship of money, of wealth.
Money becomes the ends, not the means.
The Fox lovin’ Palin lovin’ angry old white guys of Boston sports talk radio use 1040 as code to bash their younger critics with on teh Twitter machine, cuz they think saying “look at your 1040, loser” is the ultimate insult. It’s not turning out like they thought. The kids are alright.
Davis X. Machina
This is important.
Someone, I would give my eyeteeth to remember who, had a lovely column/blog piece on this a long time ago that has stuck in my memory. The gist of it was “I must have this possession, I must have this experience, I must have the best table, at the best restaurant, because some day I shall die, and there is only one me. I am sorry that you will suffer as a result, but you have to understand, some day I shall die, and there is only one me.”
Existential dread — stronger even than greed.
@General Stuck: I really, really like this analysis.
And I had heard it was because lawyers were more numerous and would be missed less.
FWIW, many of my coworkers do experiments with mice and rats, and they aren’t emotionally attached to them at all. One of them keeps getting cute mouse stuff from her relatives but doesn’t have the heart to tell them she thinks mice are vermin and has no problem breaking their necks and extracting their spleens. Of course, maybe it would be easier to attract lab techs if they found out one of the perks of the job was they could do that to lawyers every day.
Actually I am pretty sure our society will not survive FAUX News. You can already see it coming apart well away from the seams. Given how much the world has changed in the last 30 years I also don’t think we will ever be able to get back anything like the society we had. We are well and truly fucked and Mr. Ailes deserves a lot of credit for the destruction of America.
Davis X. Machina
The whole point in having a tree house is that you can climb into it and pull up the ladder. It’s a pretty satisfying experience, and a pretty universal one. I wouldn’t expect Catholics to be better than the rest of us at resisting the impulse.
I hope it’s pronounced the way I think it should be.
@Villago Delenda Est:
Do you remember when Clinton said that yeah, the ends justified the means. He said that when he was prez.
Gotta love a multi, multi millionaire.
You don’t have to play his game if you choose not to.
@Punchy: He had to buy an l.
Yeah it will. Their audience is distilling down almost solely to the 27%ers. Funny thing is as the 27%ers get more batshit loony some of them think Fox News is too liberal. But then Fox typically responds by serving up more stupid so it’s a cyclical race to the pure stupid bottom.
My Republican dad stopped watching Fox last year. Until then he was okay with their obvious partisanship he recognized, and a few years back cheered it, but the loony factor finally got to him. He can’t stand Beck or Palin and thinks most of the rest on Fox like Hannity are caricatures trying to act toughy on their sofas.
Now dad only watches his local news. I’ve taken some fun telling him if he can’t show love for Fox/Palin/Beck and all the other bedrocks of today’s R-party then he must be a RINO. Pisses him off. As a concession, though, I’ve agreed with him national Democrat politicians can really suck. We’ve been bonding.
I think it was Mike Royko who said “America is a place where anyone can get rich; all they need is hard work, a little luck, and the ethics of a grave robber.”
Frequently it is a disinformation crawl, full of nasty errors.
Mike Royko would have lerved on Matt Taibbi. I miss the cantankerous old goat.
There’s a great quote attributed to Balzac which says “Behind every great fortune lies a great crime”.
Their description of Ailes could have been lifted straight out of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of psych disorders description for sociopathy. They might have been better off interviewing a forensic psychiatry professor rather than a journalism prof if they really wanted to analyze what makes someone like Roger Ailes tick.
Fox News is the very network that the song “Dirty Laundry” (doG bless you, Don Henley) was written for.
Just a little bit early.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist:
This. Rachel Maddow did a segment on it where she said “Every episode of Hannah Montana is watched by more people than any cable news show.” Had to leave O’Reilly fuming.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@cckids: Had to leave O’Reilly fuming.
Heh, absolutely. It provoked a four-minute on-air tantrum laced with “Madam”s. She responded with one of her best segments, barely repressing the giggling as she called him “M’lord” “Monsieur”, “Your Grace” and a few others.
Millions of what?
Mike Royko would have sat down at a Near-North saloon table with Matt Taibbi with two water glasses and a bottle of gin, and tried to explain subtlety and nuance to him. About half of the way through the lecture, Taibbi would have been inert under the table, and Royko would have looked down at him and said “Lesson Two tomorrow after work, kid. If you can handle it.”
has anyone read Freedom by Jonathan Franzen? That issue is a theme running through the book.
@Davis X. Machina: Fox as a single media entity may not be more pervasive now than was an entire medium (newspapers in the 1910s) that had no competition.
Any honest observer may plainly see that Fox is far more pervasive now than any single print entity was then, and exerts a disroportionate and baleful influence on all nations it infests. And it is contagious.
If you can’t see the difference between the early 20th century and todays monopoistic media environment, you need a new pair of glasses.
A great companion article is how Murdoch strangled the editorial independence out of the Wall St Journal (The Man Who Tried To Manage Murdoch)
Sorry for the late replies, but…
I fail to see how they changed in any meaningful way.
A hundred years ago, the Republican Party was the party of the economic elite, looking out for the interests of the superrich while hiding behind a veneer of religious puritanism, a claim to represent Real America, and some really ugly rhetoric towards those who weren’t part of it.
Today, the Republican Party is… the same exact thing. Their “Real America” is based in the white South rather than the rural North, their religious puritanism now includes Catholics instead of targeting them, and there are new immigrants to attack. But all that means is that they’ve switched prejudices; the basic social structure they defend is identical to what it was in the Gilded Age.
What I’m getting at is that the Republican Party may have to “change” to absorb parts of the Democratic coalition, but the changes are as likely as not to be purely cosmetic. Which, of course, means that the GOP’s basic purpose (defending and representing the super-rich) will remain the same.
Hogwash. It’s not “good product.” It’s selling candy to 2 year olds. Any moron can do it. Look, I figured this out two years ago: Fox is 80 percent tabloid TV crap: celebrity gossip, waterskiing squirrels, a dash of flag waving, a dose of missing white women. The remainder is hard-right ideology. Easy-peasy.
Interesting exception you make. It’s really, really weird and unexpected, but in the last couple years I’ve found that I often have much more productive conversations with the really devout, evangelical, social conservative types than with the rest of the GOP base. And I often find them more accessible to themes like “war is bad,” “exploitation is bad,” and the like, than your average conservative.
I can’t be sure why, but if I had to guess, I’d imagine that being really religious, they recognize the existence of moral laws greater than their own needs. What those laws are and where they come from… on that, we disagree in all kinds of ways. But that small step of recognition is still too much for the average conservative (which goes back to your point; for the average conservative, it’s All About Me Me Me).
That might explain the irrational reaction to doctors counseling patients on end of life decisions.
There is also a blossoming environmental movement in evangelical circles. It is a mixed group, and you can find genuine thinking religious people of conscience, but there is also a virulent strain of fundamentalism that is all about power and control, the worst of which being Dominionist ideology, that is also expanding it’s numbers there.
Davis X. Machina
@PIGL: Print was then every bit as pervasive as Fox. In 1940, one paper was sold per day, for every two people in the country. Seventy million. If one in ten was a Hearst or a McCormick paper, that’s an audience for hard-partisan right wing papers twice the absolute size of Fox News’ audience, and four times the relative size. The New York Daily News alone had a circulation of over 2 million. And many papers had more than one reader.
Our present media environment is different in nature, not degree.
@Davis X. Machina: @Davis X. Machina: Your statements make little sense to me. Of course in pre-electronic media times, the print media as such was every bit as pervasive, nay, even more pervasive, than is the single media entity now known as Fox in it’s specific e-media environment. How do you possibly construe that as a point in favour of your position, which is that Fox is nothing special?
As for you “if one in 10”, I just spent 5 minutes gazoogling, and I can find no hard numbers whatever…just the claim that gthe Hearst empires market penetration peaked in the 20s, before even radio was a major player.
The claim at issue is not that single print media enterprises in past ages had significant readership. The claim is that no single owner had a reach or influence remotely comparable to what Fox/Murdoch have today. Media concentration is a much bigger problem than it was even 20yrs ago, let alone before WW2 or WW1.
Thus, in point of fact, the media environment is different both in kind and in degree.
Yes, it is a mixed bag, and what you’re talking about is especially true with the younger generation of evangelicals.
I’ve heard people say that one big explanation for this is that young evangelicals are less likely to have the same racial hangups as their parents did. The base of the religious right being the white South and plenty of its founders having been segregationist advocates in their day (take Falwell and Robertson), I think that’s probably true.
My hope is that in a generation or two, evangelicals will have become a split demographic with no clear affiliation. Like Catholics right now, basically. The fundie strain you describe, though, will probably remain the loudest voice among their leaders for some time to come.
Evolved Deep Southerner
@mohagan: It is the quote that prefaces Mario Puzo’s The Godfather.
That’s a terrific piece in Esquire. Thanks.
I worked with quite a few “Galtian geniuses” in Silicon Valley and Sand Hill Road during the great dot-com heist, and I can tell you, they are almost all complete and total assholes. They’d rape their grandmas for market share, “pre-IPO valuation” and stock price. Just criminals, really, hustlers, amoral sharks.
That is really what it takes to get rich in America: ruthlessness.
Fox’s Crisp Reporting? Come on people: No WONDER they went for Our Lady of Word Salad!
@Evolved Deep Southerner: So that’s where I first read it!
And I think it’s most often true. Some rich folks eventually create foundations to give some of the money back (Carnegie, Ford, Gates) and most don’t.
I’ll praise the product, actually. On the day Gabby Giffords was shot, I was trying to find news about it all. I tried to avoid Fox News but I’m pretty sure their Web coverage of the shooting was quicker and in more detail than anyone else.
I think Fox has better coverage on the evenings and weekends. Maybe it’s subsidized by other parts of the Fox media empire, maybe Ailes is just a slave-driver in the office, but for whatever reason, if you don’t care about the “unfair and unbalanced” part, Fox tends to have more news quicker than other MSM networks. That’s not all there is to a good product to me, but it’s part of it.
For some reason, it’s the same with the DC-area Examiner. Just like Fox, it’s a right-wing rag of unmitigated hackishness. Unfortunately, its news section has about five times as much local news coverage as the other major free daily, the Express, which has a political slant of roughly Broderish centrism and also unfortunately has really vapid, cursory coverage of everything. I don’t read either regularly, but if I wanted to find out about some local news story I’d go to the Examiner first and try to skim past all the parts with Michelle Malkin and her disciples and just get to the news.