April 5, 2013

Roger Ailes, Fox News and the GOP

— As reported by the Huffington Post — In 1996, when Rupert Murdoch hired Roger Ailes, a Republican political consultant, to launch Fox News, his mission was simple: to provide a counterpoint to the "left-wing bias" of the national media. But Murdoch and Ailes weren't simply on a right-wing propaganda crusade; they also aimed to capitalize on what they viewed as a largely underserved sector of America: the "silent majority" that had been dismissed by the cultural elites who ran the media business.

Though this "silent majority" seemed reasonably happy with the mainstream media, Murdoch and Ailes seized on the rising popularity of right-wing talk radio and imported its message — and strident tone — into cable television. They not only made sure that Americans got the right-wing message; they paid up to $11 per cable subscriber to make sure that Fox News had a prominent place in the cable universe. The result was not only a financial bonanza for Fox but a generation of right-wing propaganda in the guise of journalism.

The fact is that Fox caught the news-as-entertainment wave and shrewdly played on the entertainment value of political conflict to garner huge ratings. However, the main casualty in the rise of Fox was truth, as more and more Americans viewed politics through Fox's bare-knuckled, conspiracy-theorizing, partisan perspective. And despite the network's "fair and balanced" claim, Fox increasingly converted viewers to their one-sided ideological take on the world.