Monday, May 22, 2017 at 7:47 AM

Roger Ailes, Sexual Predator Who Founded Fox News, Is Dead

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Roger Ailes, who shaped the images that helped elect three Republican presidents and then became a dominant, often-intimidating force in American conservative politics at the helm of Fox News until he was forced out last year in a sexual harassment scandal, died on Thursday morning. …

‘Fair and balanced’ was Mr. Ailes’s defining phrase for Fox News, along with another slogan: ‘We report. You decide.’ Though routinely mocked by liberal critics, who regarded the network as decidedly unfair and imbalanced, those words amounted to an article of faith for Mr. Ailes, who created Fox News with Rupert Murdoch’s money and guided it for two decades.

(New York Times, May 18, 2017)

Arguably, Roger Ailes was to cable television what Steve Jobs was to computer technology. Yet what little most people know about Ailes stems from the sexual harassment scandal that caused his fall from grace.

There’s no denying his accomplishments as a pioneer of cable news. Unfortunately, this includes pioneering the phenomenon of “alternative facts,” which has turned public debate on everything into partisan echo chambers. Thanks to Ailes, forming America into “a more perfect union” has taken on the proverbial spectacle of building the Tower of Babel.

But it would be karmic if his legacy were defined more by his sex scandal than Fox News. After all, it turned out that he ran this network more like a sultan lording over his harem than a CEO managing a corporation.

This is why his passing is worthy of no greater tribute than reprising a little of what I wrote upon his firing. Accordingly, here is an excerpt from “Women Complain that Fox News Head, Roger Ailes, Has Dick for Brains,” July 20, 2016.

____________________

Close friends will tell you that I have often decried the way all ‘prominent Fox News women’ seem to abide a dress code that requires them to bare as much leg and wear as much makeup as possible.

Watching them, as I do on occasion for ‘fair and balanced’ news reporting, I always get the sense that they look more like beauty pageant contestants than cable news reporters. What’s more, camera shots invariably reinforce the impression that tits and butts are every bit as important as brains and skills.

Frankly, their objectification is such that Fox News women are often barely distinguishable from the vaudevillian ‘Benny Hill foxes.’ This might explain why Ailes treated them, eponymously enough, like his Fox News foxes.

Far more troubling, though, is the rumor that he hired women based solely on whether or not he found them ‘f**kable.’ After all, these allegations not only give credence to that rumor, but also make it impossible to watch Fox News women henceforth without wondering what sexual favors they performed to get, and are performing to keep, their jobs. …

The parallels in this unfolding scandal to the one that triggered Bill Cosby’s fall from grace are as unavoidable as they are instructive.

____________________

Incidentally, I honestly don’t know which of these two serial sexual predators was the more diabolical:

  • Cosby lured vulnerable actresses to his room with promises of making them stars, only to drug them. Then he had his way with them.
  • Ailes convinced vulnerable reporters to serve, practically, as his sex slaves. They serviced him in exchange for feature roles in his harem masquerading as a news network.

Clearly, for any woman facing these two career paths, this would constitute the fabled choice between Scylla and Charybdis.

It is also worth noting that Ailes was rewarded with a $40 million golden parachute for his alleged crimes; whereas jury selection begins today for Cosby’s trial on a battery of sexual assault charges.

In any event, as Ailes’s victims emulated Cosby’s by coming out of the woodwork in droves, they confirmed my suspicion that the way a female reporter looked mattered more to Ailes than the way she worked:

The View co-host Jedediah Bila, who previously worked at Fox News as a contributor and co-host, said that there were no pants in the wardrobe at the network, echoing the 2013 claims of former Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson that ‘pants were not allowed.’

[Bila said] ‘You used to go into the room, and there were a bunch of dresses that you could choose from. I was told at one point I wasn’t allowed to wear orange because Roger [Ailes] doesn’t like the color orange.’

(Media Matter, April 4, 2017)

Ailes died from complications stemming from the head trauma he sustained when he fell in his Florida home on May 10. He was 77.

Farewell, Roger.

Related commentaries:
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