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Citizen Ailes
February 18, 2014 1:29 PM   Subscribe

A few years back, Fox News head Roger Ailes moved to Garrison, NY, built a house, bought the local newspaper, and got involved in local politics. New York Magazine has the story of Ailes' efforts to remake the small town in his own image, and the rage, paranoia, and narcissism those who've interacted with him have come to expect.
posted by Pope Guilty (135 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Assholes gonna asshole.
posted by Madamina at 1:32 PM on February 18 [15 favorites]


Damned one percenter.
posted by francesca too at 1:40 PM on February 18


Looking up Garrison on Wikipedia; very interesting list of people who live there. There's also a big Christian drug rehab place there IIRC.
posted by Melismata at 1:41 PM on February 18


he looks like a pillow with features
posted by The Whelk at 1:42 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]


But a few years ago, Ailes decided to create a home of his own, a real one. “All I ever wanted was a nice place to live, a great family, and to die peacefully in my sleep,” he has said.

Huh, and here I thought I'd never agree with him.
posted by wcfields at 1:43 PM on February 18 [8 favorites]


Roger told him his German shepherd, Champ, helped protect them. “He said, ‘I let the dog out of the car when we come here. The dog gets out first. He’s trained to patrol the whole grounds and report back before we get out.’ ”
"Smithers, release the hounds."
posted by octobersurprise at 1:45 PM on February 18 [43 favorites]


The nice thing about Ailes living in a small town is that it greatly increases the likelihood that he'll get ridden out of town on a rail.
posted by nathan_teske at 1:47 PM on February 18 [5 favorites]


For those who can get past the New Yorker paywall, here's a ca. 2011 article on this.
posted by griphus at 1:50 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


I actually kind of feel for the guy. These guys have fetishized Small Town America into this thing that it never was. They want to live in Mayberry, where Joe down the street cares about your kids, and everyone hates the Reds, and mutters together over football games. That doesn't really exist. I don't know if it ever existed, but it definitely doesn't now. There is no town small enough.
posted by corb at 1:50 PM on February 18 [17 favorites]


I had read the 2011 New Yorker story, and it's great for angrying up the blood. Ailes is such a total dick.
posted by JHarris at 1:52 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


There is no town small enough.

I'm sure that town does exist, but it's in the middle of rural Mississippi somewhere and not an upper-class New England enclave of well-off white people.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:53 PM on February 18 [19 favorites]


Small towns exist when it comes to persecuting young girls, but that's the extent to which they get involved in each others' lives.
posted by bleep at 1:53 PM on February 18 [11 favorites]


I actually kind of feel for the guy.

I don't.

He has enough money. If he wants a Mayberry, he can go off and build it on some lonely strip of land in Montana and hire actors to populate it. Just like the real Mayberry.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 1:54 PM on February 18 [48 favorites]


...and mutters together over football games.

This totally exists. I was in a pub a few years ago where there was about as mixed bag of men as you could ask - multiple races and a huge cross section of economic stations - all groaning and cheering as if one.

Now, sure, the pub was in Central London and the ball was black and white, but other than that....
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:56 PM on February 18 [11 favorites]


he looks like a pillow with features
posted by The Whelk


Come on, this is Roger Ailes. Surely you can find something more constructive to criticize about him.
posted by troika at 1:57 PM on February 18 [5 favorites]


If you purposely bury the lede, you're probably not a real newsperson. Propagandist, maybe, but not a newsperson.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:57 PM on February 18


Come on, this is Roger Ailes. Surely you can find something more constructive to criticize about him.

He reminds me of a balder Vladimir Harkonnen. Also, kinda looks like him.
posted by kafziel at 1:59 PM on February 18 [18 favorites]


he looks like a pillow with features
posted by The Whelk

Come on, this is Roger Ailes. Surely you can find something more constructive to criticize about him.


He looks like a cheap pillow with features.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:59 PM on February 18 [44 favorites]


Come on, this is Roger Ailes. Surely you can find something more constructive to criticize about him.

Richard Nixon's Jiminy Cricket?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:01 PM on February 18


Christ, what an asshole.

A paranoid, ding-bat, stupid asshole.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:02 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]




This excerpt, I think, is especially telling:

But the local paper was a different matter. The signs of its rightward march were impossible to miss. As Lindsley began to redesign the papers, his bosses suggested that he place the Cold Spring Recorder’s original motto—“By the grace of God, free and independent”—on the masthead. Articles were sharper-edged. Overt religiosity crept into the pages, evidence, they suspected, of the growing influence of Father McSweeney, the priest of Our Lady of Loretto. Patriotic paeans, and excerpts from the Federalist Papers, began to populate the weekly.

In May 2009, readers opened the paper to find something they had never seen before: an editorial. The unsigned attack on Obama’s stimulus titled “Debt, Decisions, and Destiny” called the plan “reckless” and said “rich people should be shown some respect.”


That last line, there. It says so much, so concisely. Doesn't he sound like a mafioso? The rich must be given their due, not in power (which they already possess) but respect, the thing that mere villagers owe to nobles, the overriding social prerogative that supersedes minority rights, justice, you name it. When the rich and powerful demand their respect, it's not the respect that one accords to one's equals; it means, "respect my power, and you will not be my enemy". It's a threat, not a fair-minded request for dignity and equality.
posted by clockzero at 2:03 PM on February 18 [42 favorites]


He has enough money. If he wants a Mayberry, he can go off and build it on some lonely strip of land in Montana and hire actors to populate it. Just like the real Mayberry.

I would totally work in Roger Ailes' Fantasy Town for a few months, I feel like it would be this weird cross between The Village from The Prisoner and Colonial Williamsburg and Disneyland. Somebody all acting as lookout to let everyone know when Roger's coming down the street and you all have to scramble and get into character before he gets there, and then as soon as he passes everyone's immediately dropping character and lighting up a smoke. Just this bizarre job propping up some man-child's fantasy bubble in the fakest way possible.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:03 PM on February 18 [26 favorites]


Reading about Roger Ailes is surely not good for my blood pressure.
Unless the article ends with pitchforks, torches, tar, and feathers...
posted by entropicamericana at 2:04 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Good god. Mr. gudrun's family has deep roots in Garrison and he has many fond memories of going there as a kid, though his grandparents sold the family house some years ago. This is very upsetting to read. (Mr. gudrun's very liberal Democratic mother, who partly grew up there, will be rolling in her grave.) Garrison is not Mayberry.

Some of the movie Hello, Dolly was filmed in Garrison - here is a video from 2009 showing some of the town used in the movie if you want to get a bit of a sense of the place.
posted by gudrun at 2:06 PM on February 18


Shame about Cold Spring, I used to love going up there on weekends when I was a kid. I have to assume it's close enough to the Ailes hive to be covered with zerg creep now.
posted by invitapriore at 2:06 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]


he looks like a pillow with features
posted by The Whelk

Come on, this is Roger Ailes. Surely you can find something more constructive to criticize about him.

He looks like a sun ripened gelatinous ham who stole Alfred Hitchcock's nose and he is a malignant viper who exploits the basest fears of an increasingly anxious and shell-shocked, aging American populace, is very likely on the hook for a lot of the war dead of last decade and generally a blight on humanity.
posted by Divine_Wino at 2:07 PM on February 18 [30 favorites]


Meh, Ailes is just too cheap to really do this kind of thing right.
posted by Chrischris at 2:08 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


“That’s up for sale,” Ailes said. “I could buy it in a heartbeat. You know why I’m interested?”

The men stared back at him. “I hear a group of Chinese investors are looking. I’m not going to have some Chinese investors set up a missile silo right across from West Point.”




I'm not sure exactly what tone Ailes used in making this statement, but it seems to be drifting from run-of-the-mill paranoia into genuine mental illness.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:09 PM on February 18 [6 favorites]


> I actually kind of feel for the guy. ... They want to live in Mayberry, where Joe down the street cares about your kids ...

Considering all the energy he's put into destroying social tolerance, I really don't feel for the bastard. It's like the guy who killed both of his parents and then asked for mercy because he was an orphan. The only way that makes sense is if you feel guys like him (based on whatever standard you're using) shouldn't be responsible for the results of their actions.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:10 PM on February 18 [7 favorites]


Today I learned that Roger Ailes has never watched Welcome to Mooseport.
posted by mstokes650 at 2:10 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


What a great piece.
posted by cellphone at 2:10 PM on February 18


I'm not sure exactly what tone Ailes used in making this statement, but it seems to be drifting from run-of-the-mill paranoia into genuine mental illness.

My absolute favorite line from the article:
“[Ailes] was said to have ordered the removal of all trees around his house so that he … had a 360-degree view of any leftist assault teams preparing to rush the house,” Leonora Burton, the owner of the Country Goose shop on Main Street, recalled.

posted by Pope Guilty at 2:10 PM on February 18 [10 favorites]


These guys have fetishized Small Town America into this thing that it never was.

That's the essential irony that makes this so story so compelling. Everything Ailes' has done -- the zoning fight, the changes to the local paper, even to a degree the home landscaping and land purchasing -- has been an effort to create an idealized notion of A Small Town that, in so doing, only serves to destroy the things that make small towns small:

“Until Roger showed up, no one much cared what your party affiliation was,” Stewart said. “With 9,000 people, it doesn’t work too well. It’s hard to demonize people for party affiliation when they all know each other. Scaling Rogerism and Foxism down is a disaster.”
posted by cjelli at 2:11 PM on February 18 [28 favorites]


You know, even when it's fucking Roger Ailes, they're still fat jokes.
posted by box at 2:13 PM on February 18 [29 favorites]


“[Ailes] was said to have ordered the removal of all trees around his house so that he … had a 360-degree view of any leftist assault teams preparing to rush the house,” Leonora Burton, the owner of the Country Goose shop on Main Street, recalled.

Interior, Leftist Assault Team Base: LEFTENANT GUEVARA stands in front of a whiteboard, crosses out "FRONTAL ASSAULT" and writes and circles "TUNNELS???"
posted by jason_steakums at 2:14 PM on February 18 [55 favorites]


Yeah, clockzero, Jim Cramer was on some show I was watching at the gym and he said these guys don't just want to have money, they want to be loved and adored and respected, and that's the problem with anything they view as a personal attack. It's not enough to have all the money in the world and have the obsequiousness of the thousands of people who bow down to them because their jobs depend on it, they want to feel special and genuinely loved and respected.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:14 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


philipstown.info is a really nicely designed local news website. So that's one positive thing that came out of all of this.
posted by Hactar at 2:14 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


“[Ailes] was said to have ordered the removal of all trees around his house so that he … had a 360-degree view of any leftist assault teams preparing to rush the house,”

"leftist assault teams". Heh. Maybe in Colombia. But I don't think those kinds of leftists live in upstate New York.
posted by GuyZero at 2:14 PM on February 18 [5 favorites]


On the other hand, if Ailes is that interested in creating a community in his own image, why doesn't he invest some of his wealth to support research and innovation in urban planning. For example, things like underwater habitats.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:15 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Damnit jason_steakums.
posted by GuyZero at 2:15 PM on February 18


I would totally work in Roger Ailes' Fantasy Town for a few months, I feel like it would be this weird cross between The Village from The Prisoner and Colonial Williamsburg and Disneyland. Somebody all acting as lookout to let everyone know when Roger's coming down the street and you all have to scramble and get into character before he gets there, and then as soon as he passes everyone's immediately dropping character and lighting up a smoke. Just this bizarre job propping up some man-child's fantasy bubble in the fakest way possible.

It's tempting, but I wouldn't want to work there. You just know you'd get minimum wage and not be allowed to live in your prop house.
posted by kafziel at 2:18 PM on February 18 [6 favorites]


It's not enough to have all the money in the world and have the obsequiousness of the thousands of people who bow down to them because their jobs depend on it, they want to feel special and genuinely loved and respected.

It's not exactly it. They want a different time. They want to be Lords of the Manor. America has always had a weird relationship with aristocracy - while outwardly despising it, the very rich have always kind of clung to its trappings. Roger Ailes wants to be the benevolent Lord in the Castle, coming to town, giving generously of his money and having everyone tip their hats at him. He wants to be consulted on births and deaths and marriages, he wants to be able to have troublemakers ridden out of town on a rail. He wants to be the wise force that saves everything.

And he can't have it. We don't have a landholding aristocracy here, and even the landholding aristocracies elsewhere have been largely divested of their traditional power. There's no way to have the life he wants, and he can never, no matter how hard he tries, make enough money to get there.
posted by corb at 2:20 PM on February 18 [21 favorites]


You know, even when it's fucking Roger Ailes, they're still fat jokes.

Seriously. Over in the thread about the guy who crashed an exclusive party held by Wall Street jerks, we're talking about how they made feminazi jokes about Hillary Clinton and gay jokes about Barney Frank and people are taking that as evidence that they have no shame and think it's just fine to make fun of gay people and women and such. So what does it say about us if we went straight for the fat jokes when we have such a WEALTH of other things to mock with the guy?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:21 PM on February 18 [35 favorites]


Roger Ailes is to shit what King Midas was to gold.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:22 PM on February 18 [9 favorites]


You just know you'd get minimum wage and not be allowed to live in your prop house.

Or worse: you might be expected to live in your prop house.
posted by lodurr at 2:22 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


“[Ailes] was said to have ordered the removal of all trees around his house so that he … had a 360-degree view of any leftist assault teams preparing to rush the house,” Leonora Burton, the owner of the Country Goose shop on Main Street, recalled.

I call shenanigans on this one. Ailes is smart enough to know that the leftist assault teams only attack from the left.

More seriously, though, is this someone repeating a funny rumor about why Ailes wanted a big lawn around his house? Because, as much as I despise the guy, this sounds like a funny rumor, not reality.
posted by The World Famous at 2:22 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


I really can't think of anything to mock him for. Mocking the mentally ill makes me feel dirty.
posted by lodurr at 2:23 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


You just know you'd get minimum wage and not be allowed to live in your prop house.

Of course you'd have to live in your prop house. Otherwise when Ailes thinks there's an intruder in his home, you'd have to drive in from the next town over to check it out and turn on random lights.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:24 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


I like to think my job in Roger Ailes' Fantasy Town would be to get under the hood of the same old Chevy truck on the same street and turn the same wrench on the same bolt every day when he walks by, giving him a "'Morning, Rog!" and that's it.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:25 PM on February 18 [7 favorites]


"leftist assault teams". Heh. Maybe in Colombia. But I don't think those kinds of leftists live in upstate New York.

Precision Prius Drill Team?
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:25 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


I let the dog out of the car when we come here. The dog gets out first. He’s trained to patrol the whole grounds and report back before we get out.

Better than tying your dog to the roof, I guess.


“[Ailes] was said to have ordered the removal of all trees around his house so that he … had a 360-degree view of any leftist assault teams preparing to rush the house,”

Like Reagan, he knows that trees cause more pollution than automobiles do, and he's just trying to keep the air clean and free of dangerous spotted owls.
posted by Foosnark at 2:25 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


It's tempting, but I wouldn't want to work there. You just know you'd get minimum wage and not be allowed to live in your prop house.

Apparently he didn't even spring for health insurance for the half-dozen wretches at his toy paper. Ailes makes around 15 million a year.
posted by Iridic at 2:27 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Only $15M?

Wow, he's not very important after all.
posted by lodurr at 2:28 PM on February 18 [7 favorites]


Assuming I could teleport in and out and didn't actually have to try to have a life in the Ailes Fantasy Town, I'd totally work there. It'd be a great game to try to time getting hit by a frisbee or whatever for exactly the same moment every day. Or I could work in the diner, either as a server or a customer. Wait, are diners too egalitarian for Ailes Fantasy Town?
posted by asperity at 2:30 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


All the healthcare you need in Ailesville is ol' Doc Jones, the sawbones down the way.

All the healthcare Ailes needs is the glowing elixirs in ornate phials in the secret grotto beneath his estate.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:31 PM on February 18 [7 favorites]


Curious,

What the heck are you supposed to do when some corporate security goons are physically tailing you wherever you go? I mean, I'm not planning on working for FOX (or another company that may physically intimidate their employees), but I'm genuinely curious.
posted by el io at 2:32 PM on February 18


Someone needs to write a screenplay about this fantasy town. Best if it's produced around Shia LaBouef with Harrison Ford as Ailes.
posted by lodurr at 2:32 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


What the heck are you supposed to do when some corporate security goons are physically tailing you wherever you go?

That depends on the state. If you're white and in Florida, you might be in luck.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:34 PM on February 18 [5 favorites]


I actually kind of feel for the guy.

Aw, yeah. You gotta feel for some crazy Howard Hughes-acting mofo denied his rightful destiny as the despot of some poor benighted nation.

(Hey, Turtledove, here's a freebie for you: Roger Ailes as a Walker-figure spurned by his people, exiled, and then given refuge by ... wait for it ... President Jimmy Carter.)
posted by octobersurprise at 2:34 PM on February 18


What the heck are you supposed to do when some corporate security goons are physically tailing you wherever you go?

Seriously? Record them, whenever possible.

Linsley's reported response (call the guy up on the phone and wangle a confession out of him) adds a nice dose of reality to the story. I can't tell you how much I love that detail. It's like a pin-prick to the Ailesian paranoid balloon.
posted by lodurr at 2:35 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine how a Fox News exec thought moving to an affluent village with a largely educated and culturally Irish and Italian population would ever turn out well. I grew up in a picturesque little place that has had generations of people like Ailes move in. We chewed them all up and spit them back out. You may run a huge corporation but small town politics are a whole nother level of gameplay.

Want things your way? Don't move to a place the locals already have everything just how they like it.
posted by fshgrl at 2:35 PM on February 18 [6 favorites]


el io: "What the heck are you supposed to do when some corporate security goons are physically tailing you wherever you go?"

The same thing you do if you're being stalked by anyone else. Go to the police. Get an order of protection. This brochure has further suggestions.
posted by zarq at 2:35 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]


What the heck are you supposed to do when some corporate security goons are physically tailing you wherever you go? I mean, I'm not planning on working for FOX (or another company that may physically intimidate their employees), but I'm genuinely curious.

Take a trip to Florida and stand your ground.
posted by Mittenz at 2:36 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


... some crazy Howard Hughes-acting mofo ...

As a kid, one of my gold standards for chutzpah was a tape I saw several times of Hughes testifying before congress on the Spruce Goose. "Why, yes, I did continue to build it after the contract was cancelled. Did you happen to check to see who was paying for that, by the way?"
posted by lodurr at 2:37 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Of course you'd have to live in your prop house. Otherwise when Ailes thinks there's an intruder in his home, you'd have to drive in from the next town over to check it out and turn on random lights.

Yes, exactly. You're allowed to be in the house only while on duty, it's never your house. That, or you're required to buy the house at a really bad rate. Basically, whatever confluence of circumstances is most exploitative.
posted by kafziel at 2:40 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


What the heck are you supposed to do when some corporate security goons are physically tailing you wherever you go? I mean, I'm not planning on working for FOX (or another company that may physically intimidate their employees), but I'm genuinely curious.

If you're not willing to shake the tail, I say embarrass them/make it obvious. Go to a lingerie store or a bridal boutique. Or even better, an AA meeting - something that makes them have to talk and make up stories. Have some fun with it!
posted by corb at 2:41 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Or worse: you might be expected to live in your prop house.

And pay "fair market" rent.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 2:41 PM on February 18


People like Ailes, Coulter, probably some on the left, and so forth are what make American criticism of Ahmedinejad, "clerics," etc. so comical.
posted by rhizome at 2:42 PM on February 18


“All I ever wanted was a nice place to live, a great family, and to die peacefully in my sleep..."

I'm sure the poor man's blood pressure is already too high.


Too bad it's not high enough...
posted by BlueHorse at 2:42 PM on February 18


My overall take is that being Roger Ailes is its own punishment. What a way to take an idyllic country home and turn it into your own paranoid nightmare.

Also, I always get perverse pleasure out of imagining Hell as an endless real life experience -- and this article has a great pair of scenarios:

He was up on the mountain at all hours, watching the Fighting Irish games with Ailes or joining the family for dinner with the likes of John Bolton and Glenn Beck.
posted by bearwife at 2:43 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Or worse: you might be expected to live in your prop house.

And pay "fair market" rent.


With FoxBux! Bills with pictures of Fox News hosts past and present.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:44 PM on February 18


Someone really should have got the town organized to trick Ailes into thinking he's experiencing a Groundhog Day phenomenon.
posted by The World Famous at 2:45 PM on February 18 [9 favorites]


bearwife: "What a way to take an idyllic country home and turn it into your own paranoid nightmare."

The problem is, he's inflicting that nightmare on the rest of the town.....
posted by zarq at 2:46 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


Roger Ailes is like Chevy Chase in Funny Farm, except instead of the lovable character Chase plays, he's actually Chevy Chase.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:47 PM on February 18 [26 favorites]


And he can't have it. We don't have a landholding aristocracy here, and even the landholding aristocracies elsewhere have been largely divested of their traditional power. There's no way to have the life he wants, and he can never, no matter how hard he tries, make enough money to get there.

Now if only there were some mechanisms in place to protect other people from being harmed by his quixotic quest that would restrict his ability to control the local media, or purchase elections, or spend his way out of every problem he encounters....
posted by RonButNotStupid at 2:48 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Corb: And he can't have it. We don't have a landholding aristocracy here, and even the landholding aristocracies elsewhere have been largely divested of their traditional power. There's no way to have the life he wants, and he can never, no matter how hard he tries, make enough money to get there.

Well, I mean... Dead Kennedys said it so eloquently in the 80s... "You want a banana republic that bad? Why don't you go move to one..."
posted by symbioid at 2:51 PM on February 18


The Joe Lindsley narrative reminds me a bit of Nadia Naffe. relatively bright young conservative gets in bed with serious Rightists, goes along for a while, finally begins to realize how horrible they are. By that point, of course, they have to admit what they helped do, which is unsurprisingly difficult.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:53 PM on February 18


Ailes actually spouts the Fox News nonsense. That surprised me. I assumed he was too smart for some of the more nonsensical stuff.
posted by Area Man at 3:04 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]


This reminds me of the story of John McAfee in whatever-that-Kindle-single was called, wherein he basically decided that the village closest to his compound in Belize was overrun with drug trafficking and he was going to clean it up.

It went about as well. About the same impulses.
posted by PMdixon at 3:07 PM on February 18


Yeah, clockzero, Jim Cramer was on some show I was watching at the gym and he said these guys don't just want to have money, they want to be loved and adored and respected, and that's the problem with anything they view as a personal attack. It's not enough to have all the money in the world and have the obsequiousness of the thousands of people who bow down to them because their jobs depend on it, they want to feel special and genuinely loved and respected.

I actually disagree, and I'm sorry if that seems rude since you were trying to agree with me. I think it would be more accurate to say that they want to make it illegal for anyone to treat them with what they consider disrespect, which for them includes things like taxing their wealth, as the section I quoted made explicit. But, they don't intend to make it illegal strictly by manipulating the legislative process: they want to embolden other worshipers of power and threaten those who don't worship power into compliance and complicity. That's what makes Roger Ailes and his ilk so insidious and so corrosive to what we call the social fabric: they don't merely dominate others through an undemocratic fusion of money, governmental power, and media control; they are also determined to foster a culture virtually obsessed with domination and its "defense" against social forces aimed at emancipation.

It's not exactly it. They want a different time. They want to be Lords of the Manor. America has always had a weird relationship with aristocracy - while outwardly despising it, the very rich have always kind of clung to its trappings. Roger Ailes wants to be the benevolent Lord in the Castle, coming to town, giving generously of his money and having everyone tip their hats at him. He wants to be consulted on births and deaths and marriages, he wants to be able to have troublemakers ridden out of town on a rail. He wants to be the wise force that saves everything.

I don't think this is right, either. I realize you didn't mean that literally, but these guys aren't LARPers or members of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Their personal wants, I think, are perhaps not so rational or straight-forward, but their actions are clearly and rationally aimed at goals which we needn't invent this sort of quaint ambition to explain. So it would be more accurate to say that they work to instantiate feudalistic social conditions around themselves, through whatever means they can instrumentalize, than to say that they want to be lords. It's not that: they intend for everyone else to be peasants.
posted by clockzero at 3:08 PM on February 18 [15 favorites]


I think Ailes doesn't want Mayberry so much as Latveria.
posted by the sobsister at 3:16 PM on February 18 [11 favorites]


I like to think my job in Roger Ailes' Fantasy Town would be to get under the hood of the same old Chevy truck on the same street and turn the same wrench on the same bolt every day when he walks by, giving him a "'Morning, Rog!" and that's it.

Man that would be a sweet gig. And just to add a little "Peyton Place" drama maybe you give Beth Ailes the occasional "tune-up" when Roger's in the city and he can never figure out where those grease smudges on the headboard are coming from. And then...wait, wait I'm getting way too invested in Ailesville.
posted by MikeMc at 3:22 PM on February 18 [5 favorites]


Wait, are diners too egalitarian for Ailes Fantasy Town?

Why, by no means! Not least so long as it's understood that Grandpappy Ailes gets to hold court from his reserved corner booth.

Now, Grandpappy is an almighty nosy body, as he's first to admit; but he means well, and he's cut a grand figure through life, so folks generally mind his advice...
"Why so down at the mouth today, Timmy?" rumbled Grandpappy one fine spring day, as he laded himself up another forkful of the juiciest cherry pie in all Putnam County.

"Gee, Mr. Ailes," sighed Timmy, slurping glumly at a raspberry phosphate. "I'm just in a study, I guess."

"You lose more marbles to that Taggart boy? I'd be happy to spot you an aggie and show you a few ring tricks could win you back your glass. You'll recall I was considered Taws Champ of Northeastern Ohio when I was your age."

"No, sir. I don't seem to have much a appetite for marbles these days." And the lad sighed again, and frowned so deeply that the last hair on his crew cut twitched.

O'l Ailes' jowls quivered with sly apprehension. "Then maybe it's trouble with pretty little Sue-Ellen Costello what's got your cats so dogged?"

Timmy pretended indifference, but the quickened velocity of his phosphate slurpage betrayed his stung affections.

"Hee hee hee!" hee-hee-heed Ailes. "Timmy, my boy, you got nothing to be abashed about. Affairs of the heart have afflicted many a great hero--myself unexcepted. Tell you what: you confide in me your little contretemps with Sue-Ellen, and, in return, I'll tell you the secret that secured me the title of Kissing Champ of Northeastern Ohio!"

"It's a deal!" said Timmy, vim restored. "It all got started of Sunday last, when I texted Sue-Ellen after church, askin' her if she'd be my date to Dough-nut Night, and-"

"Texted," said Roger Ailes.

"Uh," said Timmy.

"Mighty new-fashioned word there, Timmy. Texted."

"I believe it's from the Latin, sir. The preacher learned us that in Sunday School."

"Don't begin to fuck with me, Timmy. Don't think you can get between me and my retirement in a nice town, with traditional folks. I pay you, I pay you a great deal, and I might as well have hired an illegal for all your ability to convince me you're a small-town American child.

"We're going to start over, get me? And when we get to your troubles with that sweet little Sue-Ellen, you'd better be talking to her on a fucking tin-can telephone, or I will sue you unto suicide. Now: why so down. At the mouth. Timmy?"
posted by Iridic at 3:27 PM on February 18 [107 favorites]


It's not exactly it. They want a different time. They want to be Lords of the Manor. America has always had a weird relationship with aristocracy - while outwardly despising it, the very rich have always kind of clung to its trappings. Roger Ailes wants to be the benevolent Lord in the Castle, coming to town, giving generously of his money and having everyone tip their hats at him. He wants to be consulted on births and deaths and marriages, he wants to be able to have troublemakers ridden out of town on a rail. He wants to be the wise force that saves everything.

Holy shit. Roger Ailes is Lady Catherine de Burgh.
posted by Diablevert at 3:33 PM on February 18 [12 favorites]


"... and to die peacefully in my sleep,”

That's a curse in some quarters.

Other local contractors helped install a bunker that could weather a terrorist attack underneath their mansion. “He can live in there for more than six months,” a friend who has visited it said. “There are bedrooms, a couple of TVs, water, and freeze-dried food.” “I’m not allowed to talk about it,”

So pretty much exactly like the 50's except "terrorist" instead of "nuclear."
posted by Smedleyman at 3:33 PM on February 18


Other local contractors helped install a bunker that could weather a terrorist attack underneath their mansion. “He can live in there for more than six months,” a friend who has visited it said. “There are bedrooms, a couple of TVs, water, and freeze-dried food.” “I’m not allowed to talk about it,”

After the weeks of terror were over, Ailes looked out through his electronic periscope over the barren wasteland that had once been planet Earth. They were all dead - all of them. Not just the terrorists, but his allies, too. He, Roger Ailes, was the last man left on Earth and he wept. Yes, Ailes wept tears of joy, for at last he was safe.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:37 PM on February 18 [9 favorites]


Man that would be a sweet gig. And just to add a little "Peyton Place" drama maybe you give Beth Ailes the occasional "tune-up" when Roger's in the city and he can never figure out where those grease smudges on the headboard are coming from.

I think it would be funnier if his fictional town went all "Green Acres" and his wife became one of the looney townspeople and keeps pestering him to replace Bill O'Reilly with the nice republican go-getter kid who lives next door who's actually a pig that everyone except Ailes treats as a human being.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 3:40 PM on February 18 [6 favorites]


Let's give all of our major media outlets to insane people.
posted by zaelic at 3:41 PM on February 18


Holy shit. Roger Ailes is Lady Catherine de Burgh.

With Lindsley gone, there's an opening for a new Mr. Collins.
posted by Iridic at 3:43 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]


Ailesville: the freest town on Earth.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:43 PM on February 18


A town of one plus mate. But keep in mind he is surrounded by a village of lackey/enablers who either share the same mental state or are in it for the money.

It takes a village.
posted by SteveLaudig at 4:01 PM on February 18


the nice republican go-getter kid who lives next door who's actually a pig that everyone except Ailes treats as a human being.

And the pig's name would be Ronald, Ronald Limbaugh and, and wait...when do we get to the part where Roger, surprising even himself, falls head over heels for Patrick the young Nigerian immigrant, and CCNY dropout, who works as a line cook at Bix's Supper Club over in Bedford Falls? Patrick is repulsed by Roger but yet he endures Roger's clumsy advances because Roger has money and influnence and Patrick has a little issue vis-a-vis his expired student visa...someone please stop me before this gets out of control...
posted by MikeMc at 4:01 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


As for FOX News, the other day Sam Seder had an author on his podcast/radio show--I think the author of this article--who talked about how FOX News is Roger Ailes. Rupert Murdoch is a businessman, ultimately, and has always given Ailes free reign.

He runs FOX News like a tyrant. He's like a modern day Joe McCarthy: extremely paranoid, with a need to have total control over his empire. Roger Ailes demands total allegiance to...Roger Ailes. FOX News really truly is a cult.

The good news is that once Ailes is out of the picture* then there would be an immediate internal power struggle inside the network and when the dust settles it will likely be a very different place. More mainstream, less a megaphone for Ailes' uberparanoid worldview.

*no I am NOT suggesting that it would be great if this afternoon a grand piano fell out of a highrise and landed directly on Ailes--what am I, a monster??
posted by zardoz at 4:08 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


We need tree planting drones to put a few hundred sapplings up there in the dead of night. Epic prank.
posted by humanfont at 4:27 PM on February 18 [7 favorites]


In keeping with the Green Acres references, we need someone off camera to start playing the fife whenever Roger Ailes starts quoting George Washington or talking about private property rights.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:29 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]


Also given his strong support for property rights someone needs to buy an upwind parcel of land and setup a hog and rooster operation.
posted by humanfont at 4:33 PM on February 18 [18 favorites]


For those who can get past the New Yorker paywall, here's a ca. 2011 article on this.

I thought this sounded familiar.

He doesn't appear to be a happy man, but unfortunately he has done his best to bring all of us down with him. He's done real harm to the world, and in return will almost certainly die rich and well fed, peacefully, with excellent medical care.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:38 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


He doesn't appear to be a happy man, but unfortunately he has done his best to bring all of us down with him.

A sinking ship capsizes all boats?
posted by Hactar at 4:46 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


*no I am NOT suggesting that it would be great if this afternoon a grand piano fell out of a highrise and landed directly on Ailes--what am I, a monster??

Considering that it would mean the destruction of a fine musical instrument? Yes. Yes you are.
posted by lodurr at 4:53 PM on February 18 [9 favorites]


I realise this is little comfort for those at the sharp end, but there may be worse things than Ailes embarking on this sort of quixotic project that absorbs his energies, ensnares his paranoia and provides his obsessions with such a focus. It's not as if even if he wins - whatever that may look like - he gets anything that endangers the rest of the world. And he probably can't win, and it doesn't look as if he's willing to get out of the game. In too deep to accept defeat.

Meanwhile, he gets older and the world changes around him and Fox News. Wouldn't be the first man to let his hobby get the better of him.
posted by Devonian at 5:06 PM on February 18


Also given his strong support for property rights someone needs to buy an upwind parcel of land and setup a hog and rooster operation.

That's probably against the zoning laws. Right after Chinese missile silos and having too many windows.
posted by RobotHero at 5:09 PM on February 18


Only $15M?

Wow, he's not very important after all.


This might be part of the problem. Although a very well-remunerated employee, Ailes is definitely an employee - compare his personal wealth with Rupert Murdoch's. He's wealthy, but he's not rich in those terms. His earthly power is tied up inextricably with his ability to control the messaging and content of Fox News, which is limited by the pleasure of Rupert Murdoch, by his own age and vigor and by Fox's struggle with demographic shifts and new technologies.

Compare that with a relative unknown like Ray Dalio - he may not have much of a profile outside investment circles, but he has the kind of clout that comes with real money.

Buying the local newspaper might have felt like an opportunity to exert control - to be a sort of terrarium Rupert Murdoch. And look how that turned out...
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:17 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]


Holy shit. Roger Ailes is Lady Catherine de Burgh.



I'm thinking more Countess Elizabeth Bathory.




We need tree planting drones to put a few hundred sapplings up there in the dead of night. Epic prank.


Birnam Wood comes to Dunisane?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:24 PM on February 18 [5 favorites]


Only $15M?

Wow, he's not very important after all.

This might be part of the problem. Although a very well-remunerated employee, Ailes is definitely an employee - compare his personal wealth with Rupert Murdoch's. He's wealthy, but he's not rich in those terms.


According to that Forbes link, his annual take in 2012 all told was about 21 million. And that's just his compensation from his job! He, any super-rich person, would be stupid to make much of their money from income; there's a reason they all have strong feelings about capital gains tax rates. He's probably worth much more than those earnings alone account for.
posted by clockzero at 6:46 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


corb: Roger Ailes wants to be the benevolent Lord in the Castle, coming to town, giving generously of his money and having everyone tip their hats at him. … And he can't have it. … There's no way to have the life he wants, and he can never, no matter how hard he tries, make enough money to get there.

Yep. What he wants is to be a Koch brother: "It all gets back to trying to create a place where I can enjoy life and enjoy my family and friends without having to worry about my enemies." He went on to add, "And I'm doing it because I can."
posted by dogrose at 7:20 PM on February 18


Yeah I was being facetious, of course, but I think ROSF's deconstruction is well-taken. For the super Rich/powerful, money is never about money or even power* as much as it is about how having the money (or power) makes them feel.

--
*and power is often not about money per se.
posted by lodurr at 7:31 PM on February 18


I am somewhat glad, that although I loathe the Koch brothers, and this horrible man, I don't really feel like I have any "enemies" that I need to protect myself from.
posted by Windopaene at 7:55 PM on February 18


According to that Forbes link, his annual take in 2012 all told was about 21 million. And that's just his compensation from his job! He, any super-rich person, would be stupid to make much of their money from income; there's a reason they all have strong feelings about capital gains tax rates. He's probably worth much more than those earnings alone account for.

Oh, sure - and he signed a new contract in 2012 which I imagine will be worth more than $21 million. Nonetheless... Rupert Murdoch is worth more than $10 billion. Dalio is worth about $10 billion. Ailes certainly has money money - but I don't know that he has power money. His power comes from his political contacts and his control over Fox News.

(Obviously, money money gives you power over people without money money, but that hardly needs saying.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:41 PM on February 18


TheWhiteSkull: "I'm not sure exactly what tone Ailes used in making this statement, but it seems to be drifting from run-of-the-mill paranoia into genuine mental illness."

It's kind of amazing how closely the paranoid, polarized and insecure internal narrative of Roger Ailes matches the culture throughout Fox News, and now I guess the smallest of small town papers. I think if he were a character someone wrote into a political drama with the same events as reality, it would all look too neat, too on the nose. The idea that the neuroses of Fox News are an externalization of the emotional and mental health of its architect is not at all surprising, and yet I thought deep down it could never be as simple as that. Rosebud was not really Hearst's tragic flaw, though it made for great cinema to have an incisive tell on such a character, to humanize him. His personality does seem to match in so many ways that of autocrats like the Kim family in N Korea. Cesar Millan would say it's an insecure pack leader mentality (tssst!). In the case of a sober alcoholic who hasn't done work on themselves, AA calls such behavior a dry drunk. My therapist would say he's leaking, as in, hey, your past trauma is showing...

I do think that's where a lot of the insecurity of the modern conservative culture comes from, the Fox narrative that is driven from the start by a guy with a shitload of money and ambition, and a serious deficit in self-esteem; guiding his business and life to conform to his neuroses, as well as the endless stream of propaganda it produces. His internal shame and self-hatred is imprinted throughout the country and world, poisoning the well and planting the toxic seeds that turned a major political party into a classic dysfunctional family with a narcissist (or two, or more) at the center. The guy needs to heal. So does the GOP, and so do the rest of us.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:43 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]


I think if he were a character someone wrote into a political drama with the same events as reality, it would all look too neat, too on the nose.

I think it would look a lot like L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. The paranoia, the security, the surveillance, the threats to destroy people etc...
posted by MikeMc at 8:52 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


“God made trees so you can build houses and have baseball bats.”

Da fuq? This sounds like a quote from Stephen Colbert.
posted by e-man at 8:59 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


The next Bioshock game should totally take place in Ailesville.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:00 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Rupert Murdoch is worth more than $10 billion. Dalio is worth about $10 billion. Ailes certainly has money money - but I don't know that he has power money. His power comes from his political contacts and his control over Fox News...(Obviously, money money gives you power over people without money money, but that hardly needs saying.)

I'm not sure I understand the point you mean. Before this comment, you wrote:

Although a very well-remunerated employee, Ailes is definitely an employee - compare his personal wealth with Rupert Murdoch's. He's wealthy, but he's not rich in those terms. His earthly power is tied up inextricably with his ability to control the messaging and content of Fox News, which is limited by the pleasure of Rupert Murdoch, by his own age and vigor and by Fox's struggle with demographic shifts and new technologies.

Compare that with a relative unknown like Ray Dalio - he may not have much of a profile outside investment circles, but he has the kind of clout that comes with real money.


Do you mean to say that Ailes has less power than Murdoch or Dalio?
posted by clockzero at 9:02 PM on February 18


The good news is that once Ailes is out of the picture*

There's a whole line of people who have been angling for years to be promoted into his place. His place in US culture is fixed, and he's just the current incarnation of a century (if not more) of yellow journalism narcissists.
posted by rhizome at 9:07 PM on February 18


Do you mean to say that Ailes has less power than Murdoch or Dalio?

Absolutely. If Ailes pisses Murdoch off sufficiently. he can be out on his keester in a heartbeat.
posted by scottymac at 9:09 PM on February 18


lodurr: "I really can't think of anything to mock him for. Mocking the mentally ill makes me feel dirty."

As a fellow sufferer, let me just say that I genuinely feel for anyone I can tell who so very clearly is dealing with mental illness. However, it's still your own responsibility to take care of yourself, to go through the healing process, to continue to do the work every day, and to help others in their journey, both for yourself and for the well being of others. I feel just fine mocking someone like Ailes, who not only has not done the work, he hasn't even begun to consider the negative consequences of his actions, which all of us have to live with. I don't mock him because of his suffering, but because he refuses to own his shit and abuses others - his behavior and its effects are very much open to scrutiny. I genuinely hope he finds a way to heal, because that would help all of us, though honestly I don't think that's going to happen. In any event, I don't have that kind of power, but I will work against his politics and presence in such. Just because he's probably got some shit to work through doesn't mean he's not an asshole.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:11 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


Absolutely. If Ailes pisses Murdoch off sufficiently. he can be out on his keester in a heartbeat.

I feel like this must burn his ass so bad knowing he still has to answer to someone.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:12 PM on February 18


Ailes sounds like the arch-prepper. He must have so many tactical flashlights. Racks, special display cases, a bulb for every occasion. Does his estate have an oubliette? It probably does, to help subdue unruly Repopulation Associates post-apocalypse. He's a man who looks in the mirror and sees a king because he forgot what the Sherrif of Nottingham looks like.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:58 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


these guys don't just want to have money, they want to be loved and adored and respected

Think I'll kickstart a campaign to use cheap toy drones to drop flaming bags of dogshit on his estate, car, and person.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:44 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Do you mean to say that Ailes has less power than Murdoch or Dalio?

I think so , yes. Or at least, I mean to say that he has less money, and that money is to some considerable degree power. I mean, Dalio is just a name that popped into my head when I was trying to think of somebody who had enormous personal wealth, but was not a household name. He might not actually be a great example, so maybe better to look at Rupert Murdoch.

By any meaningful definition of the term, Ailes is certainly very, very wealthy - when you get to an annual income of more than about $10 million a year, you're looking at a tiny proportion of the US population - the top 1% of the top 1% of the top 1%. And there will indeed be income from investments, speaking gigs, land deals and so on on top of salary.

On the other hand, I think within the realm of the super-rich there are still gradations of power and influence. Bill Gates rich is not the same as Oprah Rich. Roger Ailes can buy his local paper, but he couldn't buy the Washington Post. And so on. And there are forms of esteem and influence not wholly related to wealth: Bill Clinton and Bill Gates share a stage and equal billing, despite Bill Clinton earning less in an average year than Ailes.

If you look at the very richest people in the US, I think most of them got that way either by inheriting (or living long enough to enjoy the flowering of) a significant stake in a business founded by their family (Wal-Mart, Koch Industries, Mars, Continental), or being the founder of, and keeping a significant stake in, a business that disrupted and led a growth market (Nike in sportswear, Microsoft in software, Bloomberg in business intelligence, Amazon in online retail, Dell and Apple at different ends of the personal technology market, Google in search), with the top levels of money management another option (Warren Buffet, George Soros, Ray Dalio, John Paulson). You can make a lot of money out of being, say, the 30th employee at Microsoft, as Steve Ballmer did, but being President of a subsidiary of a subsidiary of what is now 21st Century Fox doesn't get the same kind of equity, because that equity's mature value has been recognised.

Anyway, I'm not sure how significant this is - it was just something that struck me as possibly interesting.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:45 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


ROSF, I'll say it again: I think those are really salient points, and again, it's not about the money per se -- it's about how the money makes them feel.

That goes for other people's money, too: Rupert's money makes people (who matter to Rupert and Roger) feel differently about him than does Roger's money.

And that would be just as true if tomorrow Roger magically had as much money as Rupert, because Roger wouldn't have "earned" it.
posted by lodurr at 4:43 AM on February 19


krinklyfig:: if he were a character someone wrote into a political drama with the same events as reality, it would all look too neat, too on the nose.

i posted this story to facebook using Charles Foster Kane as a lede, and the first commenter remarked that Kane would be smarter than this.

Which is true. Kane would be smarter than this. But Hearst wasn't, really. Kane had to be smarter than this because if he were as crazy-venal as Hearst or Ailes, the movie would have seemed unrealistic.

When you get down to it, Kane was a lot more likeable than Hearst, and Hearst made a major tactical blunder in trying to suppress Citizen Kane. And any fictional Ailes is likely to be similarly more likeable than Ailes, because no one would believe the real Ailes as a fictional character.
posted by lodurr at 4:50 AM on February 19 [5 favorites]


a lot of this is popping because of the recent biography: The Loudest Voice In The Room

Roger Ailes’ biographer dishes on the T-Rex of cable TV
Roger Ailes biography 'Loudest Voice' is reasonably fair and balanced
Fox News has a “crumbling foundation”: Roger Ailes’ biographer talks to Salon - "Violence, paranoia, bigotry and sexual harassment reign at "America's Newsroom," author Gabriel Sherman explains"
Biography Argues Roger Ailes Uses Fox To Divide Nation
A new biography of Roger Ailes, the architect of Fox News Channel, portrays Ailes as the son of abusive parents whose difficult childhood experiences may have helped fuel the drive and aggression that went into the creation of his polarizing news network.

Roger Ailes Is Not That Powerful - "We know more than ever about how vile Roger Ailes is. But he still can't elect a president."

The Reputation Of Roger Ailes - "Ailes’s critics, like Hearst’s, have found it easier to denounce him than to think hard about the audience he appeals to."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:10 AM on February 19 [6 favorites]


I've got this board game in mind now, where Ailesville is represented like the London map in Scotland Yard, and you and your team have to collect keys and disable security systems in random locations to make your escape while avoiding secret police and racing an ever-increasing counter representing Roger's paranoia that adds more police as it goes and ends the game when it maxes out. You have a limited hand drawn from an abilities deck which mixes offensive actions like breaking into a building for a key (which locks you into place for a few turns and increases the Paranoia level) and defensive actions like hokey 1950's shtick playacting (which lets you survive an encounter with the secret police), and actions that let a teammate create a spectacle elsewhere on the map to draw off the secret police for a few turns (who take the shortest route there until the first one reaches it). Getting caught removes a person from the game and ratchets the paranoia up. Some cards in the abilities deck are instant-play effects that help or hurt, like citizens getting wise and reporting you which raises the paranoia level, or a scandal breaking out for a Democratic politician, which calms Ailes.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:54 AM on February 19 [10 favorites]


Thanks, jason_steakums, only 9 days left in the Metafilter Interactive Fiction Contest and /now/ you drop that on me!

We could have had it all.
posted by corb at 11:59 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


I imagine the game would go something like:

1) Move to small town.
2) Take over local paper.
3) Continue take over of local paper.
4) Take over local paper some more.
5) God dammit why won't this local paper remain suitably taken over?
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:05 PM on February 19 [6 favorites]




With all due respect to Frank Rich, who I generally enjoy reading, I think he's minimizing the impact of having Fox News out there pushing the Overton window to the right and reminding the rest of the media that they're #1. He's also deluded if he really thinks that anyone who matters in the conservative movement was surprised by the 2012 election result. So what if Fox News's demographic has an average age of "mesozoic" -- until they all die off, the rest of the media has to pretend to give the flat earthers equal time and engage in false equivalency "both sides do it" reporting.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:35 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


It does seem a little optimistic... "Fox News is a failing force" is one thing, "Fox News is irrelevant" another.

(Besides which, telling liberals to ignore Fox News is the FIAMO of media criticism - it's a nice dream, but it isn't going to happen.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:37 AM on February 20


From homunculus' link:
"The most interesting news about Fox News is that for some years now it has been damaging the right far more than the left. As a pair of political analysts wrote at Reuters last year, “When the mainstream media reigned supreme, between 1952 and 1988, Republicans won seven out of the ten presidential elections,” but since 1992, when “conservative media began to flourish” (first with Rush Limbaugh’s ascendancy, then with Fox), Democrats have won the popular vote five out of six times. You’d think they’d be well advised to leave Fox News to its own devices so that it can continue to shoot its own party in the foot."
This strikes me as post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning. He's assuming they have no influence. But what if that assumption is wrong and they've helped elect candidates with extreme views who would otherwise never have won office. FoxNewschannel gave the Tea Party movement legitimacy and coherence by training their cameras and microphones on people who would previously have been ignored by journalists as crackpots. And because Fox was paying attention, so did everyone else.

Also, Presidential elections are more a clash of personalities than overt ideology. For political divides, I would think that Congressional elections would be a stronger indicator.

But let's look at the presidents. Since 1992, presidential elections in this country have for the most part been won by small to medium popular vote margins. Not by landslides.

1992 Clinton/Bush: 5.56%
1996 Clinton/Dole: 8.51%
2000 Bush/Gore: -0.51%
2004 Bush/Kerry: 2.46%
2008 Obama/McCain: 7.27%
2012 Obama/Romney: 3.86%

The highest margins can be summed up with the phrase "There's no accounting for stupidity." McCain most probably lost because he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. Speaker of the house Newt Gingrich shut down the government in '95, and then the Republican party nominated Bob Dole, who was 73, against Bill Clinton, who turned 50 in 1996. Clinton was popular, the world wasn't in turmoil and the economy was booming. Yet even though Clinton carried the popular vote by more than 8%, Dole still won 44 states.

So which party has the electorate chosen to represent them in Congress since 1992?

During Clinton's 8 years, the House and Senate were held by Democrats 2 years, by Republicans 6 years.
During Bush's 8 years, the House was held by Republicans for 6 years, by Democrats 2 years. The Senate was held by Republicans for 4 years and by Dems for 4 years.
During Obama's 6 years in office so far, the House held by Dems 2 out of 6 years. The Senate has been held by Dems for 6 years.

So: the House has been held by an opposing party 12 years out of 22.
The Senate has been held by an opposing party 10 years out of 22.

The breakdown:
House: 6/24 yrs (Democrats)
Senate: 12/24 yrs (Democrats)

Let's go back further:

Nixon and Ford spent 8 years with an opposition Congress (both the House and the Senate were Democrat.)
Carter spent 4 years with a favorable Democrat Congress.
Reagan had 8 years with an opposition House held by Democrats and 2 with a Democratic Senate. The other 6 years, the Senate was controlled by Republicans.
Bush the First spent 4 years with an opposition Democratic Congress.

So the House was held by an opposing party 20/24 years.
The Senate was held by an opposing party 14/24 years.

The breakdown:
House: 24/24 yrs (Democrats)
Senate: 8/24 yrs (Democrats)

The trend would seem to indicate that in recent years, Congress (especially in the House) has leaned a bit more conservative.
posted by zarq at 8:14 AM on February 20 [5 favorites]


His earthly power is tied up inextricably with his ability to control the messaging and content of Fox News, which is limited by the pleasure of Rupert Murdoch, by his own age and vigor and by Fox's struggle with demographic shifts and new technologies.

I thought it was kind of fascinating that as much as Ailes admits that he doesn't understand new media technology, yet he and his wife were crazy focused on upgrading the newspapers' facilities and the surveillance equipment on their property.

Yet even though Clinton carried the popular vote by more than 8%, Dole still won 44 states.

Dole won 19 states, unless I'm missing something.
posted by psoas at 9:40 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


psoas: " Dole won 19 states, unless I'm missing something."

Hrm... you're right. So um... nevermind that bit. :)
posted by zarq at 1:00 PM on February 20


I feel just fine mocking someone like Ailes, who not only has not done the work, he hasn't even begun to consider the negative consequences of his actions, which all of us have to live with.

As someone with mental illness, you should know that mental illnesses lie to you and tell you that what you're thinking/feeling/doing is normal and healthy. If you think that, there is no reason to consider the negative consequences of your actions.

And when you have that kind of money insulating you from reality, there's no incentive at all to even think that you have a mental illness.

He must have so many tactical flashlights.

For some reason I read that as tactical fleshlights, and am now vacillating between bemusement and disgust.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:18 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


['tactical_fleshlight' appearing on the blue in 5, 4, ....]
posted by lodurr at 1:56 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


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