Saturday, May 20, 2017

Good and Dead: Sex offender, liar, destroyer of journalism

The obituary page of The Massachusetts Spy.

By Lou Crecious
Obituary Writer

As the golem he installed in office rampaged through the Middle East on his journey of self-destruction, Roger Ailes, the great perverter of American politics and journalism, died an old rummy's death in Florida, aged 77.

The evil caused by this wicked, bigoted sex offender stained American life for almost half a century.  His first triumph was repackaging a paranoid vindictive warmonger as a middle-of-the-road regular Dick slickly enough to sneak said Tricky Dick Nixon into the White House in 1968.  Four more years of carnage in Southeast Asia followed, not to mention the previous attempt to destroy the American constitutional order.

That triumph might have been enough to earn Roger Ailes's place in infamy, but as it turned out it was only the fried mozzarella sticks in his banquet of iniquity.  His crowning achievement, of course, was creating the batshit crazy Fox News Network, thereby allowing his equally evil but alas still breathing patron Rupert Murdoch to manipulate the rubes in yet another country in relentless pursuit of  his bold policy of keeping all the loot for himself and his fellow white men.

His playbook was three pages long: bigotry, bullying and lies.  Actually, there was an unwritten appendix we'll get to later.  One of his favorite targets, the New York Times, which unlike Roger is alive and well, summarized his technique:

All of his career moves included the same ingredients: an appreciation of the power of television, a sense of theatricality and a deep resentment of the “New York-Hollywood elitists” who he believed populated the rest of the news media and looked down on his America.

“They just believe what they believe and they think their job is to drag the rest of the redneck morons toward the light,” Mr. Ailes told me in an interview in his office in December 2014. “They don’t understand that the so-called redneck morons — the people they don’t like — are the people that grew up with values — patriotism, all those things — and they hate all those words.”

Mr. Ailes, who regularly reminded associates that he dug ditches as a teenager, told me, “I built Fox News on my own life experience; I built it understanding the pressures and the worries and the aspirations of average Americans.”

“I love those people,” he added. And he took credit for “forcing some people to actually acknowledge that others exist in the world beside the people who went to Elaine’s back in the old days,” he said.
Average Americans?  Which average Americans?  For decades, when not otherwise engaged in sodomizing the help, Ailes peddled this version of himself as the protector of regular Joes.  Of course, given the blatant racism of Fox News, he didn't mean Joes like Louis or Foy.  He meant narrow-minded ignorant white hatemongers like himself and his President.

And what about the average Janes?  How did Roger show his regard for them?  Apparently by buying them kneepads, so that women seeking careers at Fox News could show their appreciation to Roger for all that he had done for them.  When he wasn't whipping it out in front of Gretchen Carlson and numerous other female victims, he was enabling and covering up for his on-air sex offenders, like Bill “the Loofah King” O'Reilly.

Roger Ailes, shown here in happier days
interviewing potential Fox News hosts
The only thing that finally forced Rupert Murdoch to order his talent to zip up their flies and take their sex crimes elsewhere was Murdoch's long-held desire to grab Sky TV, a series of British cable channels.  To do so, the U.K. Government, often thought to be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Murdoch Enterprises, must declare Rupert and his mouth-breathing progeny “fit and proper” to own and operate Sky TV, a determination that might be complicated by the queue of professional women suing Ailes, O'Reilly, and others for all manner of sexual depredations.

Ultimately, though, we'd have to concede that the string of sex crimes committed by Ailes and his “talent” wasn't even the worse thing about him.  The worst was his demolition of American journalism.

Hard to believe, but there was once a time when journalism was understood as a profession devoted to telling people what was going on so that they could better govern themselves.  Sure, there were enormous derelictions from that standard, notably the shilling of the mainstream media for idiotic wars of choice from Vietnam to Iraq, and the failure to cover for decades if not centuries the pervasive sexism and racism of American life unknown to Roger's average Americans.  But there was a standard and those who didn't measure up could be held to it.

Roger changed all that.  His nonstop farrago of nonsense, lies, prejudice, and reactionary talking points he called “fair and balanced.”  When it was pointed out to him that it was anything but, he would respond that he was just doing what all media was doing and it evened out.

His notion that there is no such thing as independent, non-ideological journalism is now widely accepted, with the result that his beloved “average Americans” (some of whom live only miles from his Palm Beach estate) now dismiss truthful reporting about the criminal now serving as president as nothing more than an expression of political opposition.

By subverting the role of a free and honest press as a check on government overrreach and Presidential subversion of the Constitution, he has placed in peril an entire nation.  Like the victims of his countless sex crimes, we all have to live with the consequences of Roger Ailes's evil deeds. 

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