Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fox's Roger Ailes: The George Soros of The GOP

Roger Ailes President of FOX News

Until a few months ago, those of us who have been faithful viewers of FOX News never really knew the name Roger Ailes.  We didn't know who he was, and we certainly had no knowledge of his reputation as GOP "king maker."    As the GOP presidential campaign got into full swing, those of us who consistently watched FOX News because we believed that its coverage of all the news was indeed "Fair and Balanced" suddenly began to feel a nagging sense that something had changed. 

Allow me to clarify here that this writer did not interpret Fox's claim to be fair and balanced to mean that they would report only the news that I as a conservative would want to hear.  Rather, I took the claim very literally:  Fox news journalists would be fair and balanced in reporting all the news, even if the news would reflect unfavorably on conservatives.  What I never expected was for those same journalists to be complicit in a plan to attack and discredit conservatives, as in the case of some GOP presidential candidates, in order to change their national image.  That, is not by any stretch of the imagination fair or balanced.

Many Fox viewers, as we once were, began the day with Fox and Friends and the television stay tuned to that channel all day until after Special Report with Bret Baier.  Honestly, for many of us the day wasn't complete without hearing the panel discussion that followed the news?  If it was confirmed on Fox news, we believed it.  No other journalists, in our opinion, had the integrity, the honesty, and the courage to cover the news fairly as did those who worked for the Fox network.  When we began to see  people who had previously worked for NBC or CNN join the FOX news staff we simply believed that they too were men of integrity who'd grown tired of the biased media tactics practiced by  their former employers. 

Gradually, however, as the changes became more apparent  we began to  wonder, "Were the new staff additions an attempt to  change the tone of Fox News?" After months of watching the metamorphosis that Fox was undergoing we wondered "Why?"  "What had happened?"  Did it have something to do with the telephone hacking scandal in England? Later we read that word had come down from on "high", presumably Roger Ailes' throne, that FOX was indeed to change its tone to a more "moderate" one.  FOX had apparently been accused of leaning to the right, and being too conservative from people such as Al Gore to some obscure Saudi billionaire.  To Fox's credit, any pressure they ever felt was not apparent to the viewers.

That of course was in the past.  The recent changes are very obvious to the regular viewer.  Although we were perplexed,  we were unaware that the not so subtle changes we were observing were all due to Fox President Roger Ailes' insuring that Fox's ratings remained at the top.  After Obama's election as president, and his obvious socialist stance, Fox appeared to lean to the right.  Ailes' hired the rhetorical  Glenn Beck, and capitalized on the growing popularity of The Tea Party to raise the network's viewership and ratings.  But although Glenn Beck initially boosted the ratings, he gradually became too out of control to suit Ailes and the more moderate viewers.  In July of 2011, Beck left the network in not very good terms with Ailes. Writer Howard Kurtz confirms that  Ailes also saw the influence of the Tea Party fading and decided that Fox should become more mainstream. 

Roger Ailes' influence on the changes taking place at Fox News  is very apparent.  According to The Daily Beast:
"First, Ailes dialed back the Tea Party talk. Now he’s turning the GOP race into a political X-Factor—and steering the election agenda one more time."                                   
For those of us who who have wondered about Fox's coverage of the debate, Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast provides some needed answers:
It was part political spectacle, part American Idol, part YouTube extravaganza, a pure Roger Ailes production—and the latest sign that the Fox News chairman is quietly repositioning America’s dominant cable-news channel.
Hours before the presidential debate in Orlando, Ailes’s anchors sat in a cavernous back room, hunched over laptops, and plotted how to trap the candidates. Chris Wallace said he would aim squarely at Rick Perry’s weakness: “How do you feel about being criticized by some of your rivals as being too soft on illegal immigration? Then I go to Rick Santorum: is Perry too soft?”
The sight of Fox news anchors grilling the Republican candidates without mercy was all a part of Roger Ailes' plan.  It surely pleased the White House who has been extremely vocal in its complaints about Fox news, specifically Barack Hussein Obama and his spokesman White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. It might have pleased more of the centrist viewers, but it was a shock to the conservative viewers who had expected to see the candidates given an opportunity to present their platforms to the American people instead of having to be defensive against the very media people they too trusted.

Sadly, we've discovered, that the reporters at Fox on whom we had come to rely to tell us the news as they were happening, are nothing more that a bunch of marionettes dancing to Ailes' tune as he pulls their strings.  We can't think of many disappointments as impacting as this.  As common citizens we are left wondering who we can trust when we read reports such as this. 
While Fox reporters ply their trade under Ailes’s much-mocked “fair and balanced” banner, the opinion arm of the operation has been told to lower the temperature. After the Gabrielle Giffords shooting triggered a debate about feverish rhetoric, Ailes ordered his troops to tone things down. It was, in his view, a chance to boost profits by grabbing a more moderate audience.
Our suspicions proved to be correct.  We were not imagining the change in Fox's approach to the news and the subject matter.  It remains to be seen if FOX news can win the ratings war as easily with their newly found "more moderate audience" as they did with the conservatives who followed them so faithfully.  To think that reporters whom we have come to admire such as Chris Wallace, Bret Baier, and the folks during the daytime news programming can be so easily manipulated is a journalistic catastrophe. 

We still suspect that the telephone hacking incidents that took place in England have given impetus to Roger Ailes' plan.  It appears to us that Rupert Murdoch has become more dependent on Roger Ailes handling of Fox news.  This was made quite obvious by their joint recent appear on Fox and Friends and the nauseating fawning and gushing that went on during the segment.  Andrew Laughlin of Digital Spy Media reports that FOX owner Rupert Murdoch is now facing pressure from News Corporation investors and stockholders.  In an upcoming meeting in Los Angeles, the call is out for Murdoch's sons James and Lacham to resign.  The phone hacking scandal resulted in the closure of News Corps' Sunday tabloid, the News of the World, and the withdrawal of its bid to acquire the 60.9% of Sky that it does not already own. [1]

Investors want Murdoch to step down too and are calling for a separation of the positions of chairman and chief executive, which are both held by Murdoch.
"The purpose of our resolution is to ensure that an independent voice with an independent view is leading News Corp," said Tanner.
"As the company's shareholders, including CBIS, and the rest of the world have seen, ethical lapses appear to be endemic to News Corp and not just a single, isolated incident.
"This resolution seeks to restore responsibility at the top of News Corp and ensure the company operates in accordance with the highest standards of corporate governance and transparency, which at present are sadly lacking."
Although it appears that Ailes decided to appeal to a more moderate audience after the Giffords' shooting incident, the telephone hacking incident in the U.K. has also had a great effect.  It has certainly produced winners and losers.  Among the winners one can count Roger Ailes who is now,  more than 40 years after helping to elect Richard Nixon, more in demand than ever as the man to see for Republicans with designs on the White House. [2]

The losers are the faithful FOX viewers who once believed the "fair and balanced" shtick that Roger Ailes made famous.  Bret Baier's added "and unafraid," we now know is a sham.  They are all afraid of the man's power.  In the meantime, we hope that Ailes' presumed power to elect the new Republican candidate goes the way of his negotiations with Glenn Beck (The Elephant In The Green Room)   - we hope his scheme blows up right in his face.

Roger Ailes
Photo-illustration by Darrow 



At October 25, 2011 at 10:06 PM , Blogger ramcclain said...

Wow! One of your best, and on target, as usual. I hope, too, that this blows up in his face. I have noticed a difference too. Beck did a lot for FOX, although I don't always agree with him; he does, and did, his homework, and certainly appeared to be honest, to me, which is more than most of them. It remains to be seen what will happen to Rush and Hannity. Frankly, these days, listening more to the Sirius Patriot Network..........Sharing and tweeting.

At October 26, 2011 at 4:34 AM , Blogger Marty4650 said...

I think people make a mistake when they assume FoxNews is a "right wing news outlet." Fox is a business, and like any business wants to make money. Rupert Murdoch saw that media was dominated by left leaning news outlets, so he saw a business opportunity in creating one that was "more balanced."

And this was just good business sense. After all, you don't get rich by being the sixth shoe store in the mall. You need to sell something that no one else is selling.

Incidentally, Murdoch is widely called a "right wing extremist" by the radical left, yet he was a big fan of Hillary Clinton, and even hosted fund raisers for her! http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12762092/ns/politics/t/murdoch-fund-raiser-clinton-creates-buzz/

At October 26, 2011 at 5:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is a laughable, stupid, pseudo-intellectual, disjointed, mixed-facts,lazy, piece of tortured crap.The left will love it because its word salad.The only words they left out are that he's not "caring" and Fox News is not "sustainable" This is the kind of thing that happens when people take useless subjects in college like sociology and then can't find work.

At October 26, 2011 at 6:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I noticed that they were grilling the GOP candidates and became very upset. If we can't trust Fox, who are we going to trust. The libs must be very happy with these changes. I do hoope it blows up on his face. The situation in this country is very sad. I think we are slowly loosing our freedom of speech.

At October 26, 2011 at 7:03 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good piece Indi. Marty was right, I doubt that Murdoch started Fox News as much to get the right side covered as he did to cover a market he knew wasn't being served. Perhaps the change is because they feel they have the "rightwing" market locked up and, since companies always need to keep growing, are trying to lure more viewers from the independant and even left segments.
The bias in the media becomes all too bovious when you look at how two relatively recent political movements have been covered. The Tea Party has been presented as consisting of nuts and hate-filled lunatics, no real effort has been made to interview members and allow them to actually state why they have joined the movement. Then you have the Occupy Wall Street nuts and the media acts like they are heroes standing up for all Americans. There are interviews you can find online with participants which show these freaks have nothing more than bumper sticker slogans and Socialism 101 ideas, yet the mainstream media never plays these. It sucks.

At October 26, 2011 at 8:21 AM , Anonymous Sister One said...

Marty and Bake: I agree with both of you regarding Murdoch, he didn't get to where he is by being a bad businessman. In most of what I read about him, he started Fox news to offer an alternative to the liberal media. I tried to concentrate the article on Ailes' power at Fox, and it's quite obvious that Murdoch trusts him and depends on him to run Fox. I did read that Ailes' contract is up in 2013. We'll see what happens then. I think that what has disappointed me most is how smoothly the reporters and the anchors transitioned from being right leaning to moderate when the order came down from Ailes. It was as if none had any personal conviction. I think that we all know that even before the days of William Randolph Hearst, the news media has tried to influence public opinion, yet we still keep hoping to find true journalistic objectivity.

At October 26, 2011 at 9:45 AM , Anonymous SisterOne said...

Dear Critic (Anonymous #1) you are obviously not one of my regular readers, so I’d like to welcome you to Two Sisters From The Right. Thank you for reading my article and taking the time to offer your critique. I don’t know you, or your credentials to judge my writing, but I assume you must be an English major and/or a grammarian. You are perfectly welcome to your opinion, and although I have the ability to erase your comment I will proudly leave it there as my badge of honor. Although I gratefully accept your criticism about my writing, (I am an amateur) I would like to clarify a few of the more personal comments that you made. I graduated from college 43 years ago. I don’t rely on what I learned then to apply to my writing now. I don’t work because I don’t have to. I am 65 years old, and retired. I made my contributions to society and the tax rolls some time ago. In fact, when it comes to taxes I’m still paying them….hmmm that could be another blog! You might believe my writing to be disjointed and that is your prerogative. It is NOT, however lazy. I work very hard at researching everything I write and all you need to do is to run your cursor over the text and it will take you to the links for all the resource materials that I used. You are obviously still of the belief that Fox News is a right wing news outlet. A piece of advice, Fox News would not defend you nearly as vehemently as you defend them. I want to thank you again for reading Two Sisters From The Right. Your letter really made my day. To think that I was able to get under your skin enough to make you post a reply on my blog was worth the time, the hours of reading and research that it took me to write it. Do come again.
Sister One

At October 27, 2011 at 1:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to throw my two cents into this discussion.

It appears that the Two Sisters from the Right seem to think that Roger Ailes just came on the scene and changed everything at Fox News. In fact, Roger Ailes has been running the show from the beginning -- from the start-up days when no one gave Fox a chance of taking on CNN 15 years ago -- through the ratings dominance of the past 11 years to today.

Roger Ailes seems to have the Midas Touch. If he makes a "course correction," one has to trust his instincts. Give the changes a chance and see where it leads. If the past 15 years are any indication, it'll lead to better things for Fox News.

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