Roger Ailes, President of Fox News, Dies

Ailes, in 1993. Photo by Sgt. Christopher Tobey –[/caption%5D

Roger Ailes, President of Fox News, has passed.

Ailes was a pioneer in broadcasting, using Rupert Murdoch’s money to create a news network which would “balance-out” what he believed to be waves of liberal news reporting with a place where conservatives could turn for media fairness. He thought the key to creating a venue that would be “heard” was by infusing it with flair and showmanship. He said, himself, in an interview with Broadcasting & Cable magazine in 2003, “Look, there’s a certain element of the melding with show business or entertainment,” Ailes said. “Entertainment and news should always be separate, but you should walk right up to the line and get your toe on it.”

In 1993, he became president of CNBC, which is NBC‘s business channel. Ailes was one of the creators of the America’s Talking channel, replaced by MSNBC. It was in 1996 when Murdoch approached him for Fox News. It has been said that, at first, he was reluctant to take the job – but was later convinced by Murdoch that something needed to be done.

While he made many enemies in journalism and throughout politics, it cannot be denied that he built an empire that became a force to be reckoned with. Although credited with the phrase “Fair and Balanced” in describing the Fox News Network, there can be no doubt that Fox News is considered “The Republican News Channel” – and easily identified as such. When you watch the channel during a Republican’s presidential term in office, the coverage seems to be skewed in a conservative way, gentle and understanding, in an explaining tone, whereas during a Democrat’s presidential term, they announce the news as if we’re in a worldwide crisis, with red graphics galore. This has even been parodied on “Saturday Night Live.”

Clyde Haberman, of the New York Times, points out that “From its debut on Oct. 7, 1996, the network, under his tutelage, did its share of straightforward reporting but also unmistakably filtered major news stories through a conservative lens.” See his story at:

Haberman asserts that “it was the network of choice to hear repeatedly about the moral failings of Bill and Hillary Clinton … doubts about the patriotism of American Muslims, grumblings about the war ostensibly being waged on Christmas…”

Marc Fisher, of the Washington Post, described Ailes as one “who mastered the art of selling political candidates like Hollywood celebrities and was the architect of conservative-oriented TV news.” He further stated that, to “Democrats and liberals, he was a manipulator of the news, a puppetmaster who used his network to turn minor stories into blazing scandals, ostensibly in service of his personal politics.”

Fisher goes on, pointing out that “Fox gave intensive coverage to stories that later collapsed under closer inspection: the idea that Barack Obama, the first black U.S. president, was born outside the United States; or that Obama’s health reform initiative would impose death panels to determine which Americans might be refused medical care; or that human behavior played no role in global climate change. Many Democrats dismissed Mr. Ailes’s network as a partisan agitator.”

Fisher even quotes Anita Dunn, communications director in the Obama White House, who told CNN in 2009 that: “Fox News often operates as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican party.”

Despite being asked to resign in 2016 amid sexual impropriety, Roger Ailes did what he thought was best – bringing a conservative slant to news that could only really be appreciated by staunch Republicans. He will be remembered as the man who made Fox News into what it is today – and will, probably, be like forever.

Read Marc Fisher’s story at:

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