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Some Loving Tributes To Roger Ailes

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Taibbi:

Ailes was the Christopher Columbus of hate. When the former daytime TV executive and political strategist looked across the American continent, he saw money laying around in giant piles. He knew all that was needed to pick it up was a) the total abandonment of any sense of decency or civic duty in the news business, and b) the factory-like production of news stories that spoke to Americans’ worst fantasies about each other.

Like many con artists, he reflexively targeted the elderly – “I created a TV network for people from 55 to dead,” he told Joan Walsh – where he saw billions could be made mining terrifying storylines about the collapse of the simpler America such viewers remembered, correctly or (more often) incorrectly, from their childhoods.

In this sense, his Fox News broadcasts were just extended versions of the old “ring around the collar” ad – scare stories about contagion. Wisk was pitched as the cure for sweat stains creeping onto your crisp white collar; Fox was sold as the cure for atheists, feminists, terrorists and minorities crawling over your white picket fence.

Ailes launched Fox in 1996 with a confused, often amateurish slate of dumb programs cranked out by cut-rate and often very young staffers. The channel was initially most famous for its overt shallowness (“More News in Less Time” was one of its early slogans) and its Monty Python-style bloopers. But the main formula was always the political scare story, and Fox quickly learned to mix traditional sensationalist tropes like tabloid crime reporting with demonization of liberal villains like the Clintons.

[…]

Ailes picked at all these scabs, and then when he ran out of real storylines to mine he invented some that didn’t even exist. His Fox was instrumental in helping Donald Trump push the birther phenomenon into being, and elevated the practically nonexistent New Black Panthers to ISIS status, warning Republicans that these would-be multitudinous urban troublemakers were planning on bringing guns to the GOP convention.

The presidency of Donald Trump wouldn’t have been possible had not Ailes raised a generation of viewers on these paranoid storylines. But the damage Ailes did wasn’t limited to hardening and radicalizing conservative audiences.

Chotiner:

Ailes leaves behind one of the largest legacies of any media figure of the past century: He made our country nastier, stupider, cruder, and more bigoted. Even as the memory of Ailes the man fades, we will always be able to look back on what he built.

[…]

But Ailes was not some phony elitist playing a con on the rubes. No, he really loved degrading people, and he held the same resentments as the pathetic viewers whose worlds he manipulated. Indeed, one of the special things about Ailes was the depth of his hatred, and the broad-ranging reach of his racism. Some bigots confine their disgust to a single group, or religion; Ailes, however, was never so limited. Who did the man dislike? Muslims? Yep. Black Americans? Check. Jews? Uh-huh. Hispanics? Yes. Fox, under Ailes’ leadership, became a leader in spewing all these different forms of bigotry. He was a visionary.

Ailes also took a special interest in the careers of much of the female talent at Fox News. His leadership style was to sexually harass female employees and ensure a grotesque environment at the network, which nicely mimicked the misogyny Fox watchers could see on their television screens every day. Elizabeth Ailes’ statement recalling the millions of lives her husband affected calls to mind Stalin’s line about one death being a tragedy, and millions of deaths being a mere statistic. Ailes’ family and friends should never forget that their beloved Roger ruined individual lives, too.

However, one of our overcompensated and underachieving elites has a counterpoint:

“Jimmy Savile was a wonderful teevee host and one of the most generous contributors to children’s hospitals ever. Serial molestation of children not only way to remember him.”

…as a commenter notes, Gary’s obit is excellent.

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  • If there’s a Hell, Ailes is picking out his condo there as we speak.

    • That being said, Ailes did not make our country “nastier, stupider, cruder, and more bigoted,” nor did he even legitimize it. Unless you were white, straight, Christian, and male, our country was already a pretty nasty place. What Ailes did was provide a rallying point for the National Enquirer class, and then used that to great effect as an echo chamber of nastiness, stupidity, crudeness, and bigotry. But the raw ingredients have always been there.

    • sigaba

      Ailes enters the enormous banquet hall and takes a seat towards the front, next to Phyllis Schlafly. Himmler and Elena Ceaucescu are on a podium at the front, in front of too large projection screens with a Powerpoint Presentation: “Choosing your Hell Timeshare for Fun and Investment.”

      Rogers leans over to Phillys, and she moves to slap him and he immediately draws back— “Okay okay, it wasn’t like that.” “Oh,” she says.

      “So, we pick our timeshare and then we’re sent to hell?” he asks.

      Phyllis looks at him quizzicality. “Why no, Roger, we never get to pick. THIS is hell.” Blood then seeps from her eyes as she cackles…

      (With apologies to Paul Simon and Jon Lovitz)

    • Rob in CT

      Sort of stolen from another place:

      I’m really not sure Satan deserves this…

      • Tom Till

        Or, alternately, Satan’s officially put his succession plan in place. He’s afraid he’s gone soft.

    • wjts

      Fortunately, we in the mortal realm will be spared the sight of his tearful reunion with his long-lost twin, Blathoxi, the Lord of Flatulence.

  • ForkyMcSpoon

    Bill O’Reilly said it was people’s hatred what kill him.

    I enjoyed this response: https://twitter.com/Shakestweetz/status/865396064983040002

    • Hogan

      My favorite from that thread:

      Roger, would it kill you to stop harassing women at Fox News? Oh.

      • tsam

        OH SNAP

      • MyNameIsZweig

        Oh yeah, that was my favorite too.

    • Origami Isopod

      Ugh, Melissa McEwan. I can’t believe people still take her seriously after the fuckery she’s promoted on Shakesville for years now.

  • rea

    John Wilkes Booth was a competent actor and known as an especially charming man. Awful assassination revelations are not the only way to remember him.

    • AB

      Edwin Booth was a greater actor than his brother John. There’s a large statue of him inside Gramercy Park, and the Players Club facing the park was founded by him.

  • Dilan Esper

    Rachel Maddow apparently liked him.

    • lahtiji

      Since she’s not a leggy blonde given to wearing plunging necklines, she probably wasn’t even visible at his wavelength.

    • SatanicPanic

      That’s it! I’m burning all my Rachel Maddow books!

      • royko

        Honestly, this makes me think less of her rather than more of him.

        It’s not that I can’t believe Ailes couldn’t be personable or wasn’t smart or good at his job — he had a very long and successful career because of those qualities. I just could never get past A) the effects of that long career and B) how he treated his female employees to ever feel chummy with him on a personal level.

    • She’s also inexplicably fond of Pat Buchanan.

      • John F

        a lot of media folks are, I’ve read that he’s very charming and witty in social settings… I wish I was kidding.

        • so-in-so

          And Ginsberg was fond of Scalia.

          • David Hunt

            A bunch of these sores on the anus of humanity often get stories told about them that they are charming are personable in one-on-one (or nearly so) situations. I think part of this is that they are/were not true complete sociopaths. They simply were able to throw a mental switch to dehumanize general humanity while still treating the people close to them with real human decency. This ability to discount the vast majority of humanity is perhaps the most necessary ingredient to being a successful conservative political actor. It doesn’t change the fact that they view people they actually know as actual individuals.

            You can see this is action when you encounter a prominent conservative who has a personal cause (e.g. leukemia) that they try to raise money and awareness for while still being a total dick to people suffering from other issues. You will often find that they or someone they are very close to has suffered from this specific problem and that it has allowed them to make the mental leap to feel empathy for people with that specific problem.

            • El Tigre Sabroso

              See Domenici, Peter, former Senator from New Mexico, anti tax zealot and staunch advocate of federal funding for mental health research and federal funding for psychiatric care, based on his experience with his schizophrenic daughter. I feel for him, and yet he drove me crazy. Same thing with Megyn Kelly and family leave.

          • I don’t hold that against her. Imagine having a job where you have only eight other coworkers (plus an ever-rotating gaggle of clerks) who you are stuck with until you or they die or retire. Your job involves round after round of intellectual disputation with these coworkers. The nature of the job requires you to live a fairly cloistered life without potentially conflicting external interests. I think you’d pretty much have to learn to care about and enjoy your colleagues, or else go crazy.

        • osceola

          Hunter S. Thompson liked hanging out with Pat, too. Pat even had him over to the house.

          • randy khan

            Thompson always had a taste for the bizarre.

      • royko

        Pat reminds me of my dad, in good ways and bad, and I think because of that I have a glimmer of fondness for him. Doesn’t mean I’d want either him (or my dad) running anything, but I could have lunch with him.

        • Dilan Esper

          I think this is a very intelligent comment.

          Sometimes people talk about politics as if it is impossible for people to have a personal friendship with anyone who they disagree with. But I bet those people are being either completely blind or completely dishonest– in other words, I can’t believe there’s anyone out there with a decent number of friends who doesn’t have at least one friend that they have serious personal disagreements with. Oftentimes that person is a relative, although it happens with things like high school friends as well.

          Come on, there’s probably someone in your life with some views you find offensive. And that person probably has some positive qualities as a human being. It shouldn’t be too difficult to understand Pat Buchanan.

          • Monty

            Come on, there’s probably someone in your life with some views you find offensive. And that person probably has some positive qualities as a human being. It shouldn’t be too difficult to understand Pat Buchanan.

            Understanding doesn’t equate to acceptance.

            • Origami Isopod

              This.

              It takes a pretty bigly amount of privilege to be able to treat seriously hateful views as “just a personal disagreement.” When you’re the target of those views you have a different perspective.

        • Monty

          IMO you’re allowing sentiment for your dad to cloud your judgement.

          I’ve read several (white?male?trolls?) liberal/progressive assessments of Pat Buchanan over the years, and they all conform to the same premise: “His hateful bigotry aside, he’s intelligent, informed, honest and personable.” OK… but so what.

          That he (a true American conservative-if 1860 be the benchmark) is despised by the pseudo-intellectual neoconservative community is worth mentioning…but please. Yes, he and his magazine has said things and made arguments I agree with, but in sum PATRICK J.esus BUCHANAN belongs with Roger Ailes: dead and despised, one of history’s greatest serial hatemongers.

  • royko

    What the hell is Brown talking about? He’s also widely being remembered for making his life’s work the poisoning of public discourse. So the fact that he was, on a personal level, disgusting AND evil is not the only thing he’s being remembered for. He’s also being remembered for being those things on a professional level as well.

    Also, there are some things I just can’t get past. With Ailes, it’s easy, because his life was evil enough we don’t really have to get into existential quandaries over it. For someone like Cosby, who actually did stuff that I enjoy and respect, yeah, his raping doesn’t exactly erase those things, but it does make it impossible to enjoy them or celebrate them.

    • For someone like Cosby, who actually did stuff that I enjoy and respect, yeah, his raping doesn’t exactly erase those things, but it does make it impossible to enjoy them or celebrate them.

      Indeed. Bill Cosby Himself is comedy gold, but to watch it now would come with some serious guilt.

      • Rob in CT

        The child beating jokes are icky, but yeah, overall it’s really funny stuff even now.

      • leftwingfox

        Yep. “Wonderfulness” was a favorite of mine.

      • Junipermo

        It’s impossible to overestimate how much the Cosby Show meant to the black community. When my biracial daughter was little I made it a point to watch episodes with her so she’d see a positive portrayal of a black family on TV. It pains me that I can’t watch it anymore knowing what we now know, but I just can’t. Can’t bring myself to toss the DVDs either, for some reason.

    • Solar System Wolf

      I really liked Fat Albert back in the day. Of course, I was five then.

    • Origami Isopod

      What the hell is Brown talking about?

      Hey, he never assaulted her. She got hers; fuck you.

      That said, she’s walked it back.

  • Q.E.Dumbass

    Taibbi’s is a solid takedown, but oddly rather plain* — certainly a far less entertaining obituary than the one he did for Yeltsin; I found Gary Legum’s obit at Salon a better read, with Guo and Hemmer at Vox having some good companion pieces.

    Also: “civility”.** Cleek’s law is one hell of a drug, although his POLITICO obit is just this much above Michael Wolff’s.

    *On the bright side, if this indicates the start of a further degeneration in skill (after being the Canibus of lefty journalism for quite some time), this means I won’t have to give a shit about what he has to say.

    **Even granting all of them are piece-of-shit human beings, their legacies weren’t anywhere near as damaging as Ailes.’

    • Origami Isopod

      All four are/were assholes, and Taibbi like Ailes is a sexual assailant.

      That said, only one of them has had such an incredibly corrosive effect on American discourse and politics.

  • gratuitous

    Roger Ailes spent his career, at great personal profit and notoriety, legitimizing hatred, prejudice, selfishness and greed, and teaching others these lessons through avenues too numerous to count. Except for the individuals Ailes inspired to mimic his evil, he will not be missed.

    • Roger Ailes spent his career, at great personal profit and notoriety, legitimizing hatred, prejudice, selfishness and greed…

      Hatred, prejudice, and greed have been legitimate in this country since its inception. Ailes just made a ton of money off it. And this is not to minimize his special brand of hatred. But it wasn’t like America has a big, happy, rainbow family until he came along, either.

      • so-in-so

        Of course it wasn’t, but those things were generally seen as negative attributes. People tried to hide them, or at least not shout them from the rooftop. Ailes, through Fox, did his share in making them acceptable or (to some) even admirable traits.

        • People tried to hide them, or at least not shout them from the rooftop.

          I think this would highly depend on which part of the country you happen to be located in :-)

    • Hogan

      Not legitimizing so much as commodifying on a grand scale.

      • Agreed, although Hollywood has been making money off ‘soft’ racism for decades. Ailes made the hard stuff salable.

  • sigaba

    He fulfilled Mencken’s Prophecy, and consummated a half-century long project to convert the country into an ungovernable trainwreck where people can’t even agree in what to call fench fries without it triggering a massive argument.

    He also managed to put himself inside several women in the course of threatening their livelihoods. All in all, he had much to look back upon with pride.

    • catclub

      Pride being of course, the first sin.

    • Origami Isopod

      where people can’t even agree in what to call fench fries without it triggering a massive argument.

      People can’t even talk about the weather anymore without arguing.

  • His Fox was instrumental in helping Donald Trump push the birther phenomenon into being

    This gives Trump too much credit. He jumped on the birther bandwagon in 2011, when it was already old news. It had a brief resurgence because of his celebrity, but Fox News was way ahead of him on it.

  • Alex.S

    One from a Deadspin commentator was pretty brutal and accurate — http://theconcourse.deadspin.com/1795338608

    Personally, I’ll never forgive him for the effect his network had on my grandparents in the last years of their lives. They were enthralled by Fox News, had it on day and night, whenever they were awake, and it infected them with paranoia, anger and most of all, fear. Visits were consumed with lectures about the latest conspiracy theory about nefarious plots by the Clintons, Obamas, minorities, poor, or whoever else was allegedly hell-bent on destroying their way of life that day. When my grandfather died, it took hours of searching to find where he’d hidden all of his valuables and guns – Obama, you see, was coming to take them at any moment. He lived in a constant state of dread.

    Ailes was evil. No more, no less.

    • Tom Till

      An asshole is not a brilliant visionary just because a toilet has a bottomless appetite for what comes out of it.

      That’s inspired.

      • Rob in CT

        Dayum.

      • Yeah, I may have to steal that.

    • royko

      Yes, Fox News is part and parcel of the whole senior exploitation racket which also includes the gold currency scam that Fox so prominently advertised.

  • Aaron Morrow

    Awful sexual assaults are another way of remembering him.

    • keta

      I’m really grateful that Ailes was publically busted, shamed and fired for his decades-long odiousness to women, and I consider it a very, very good thing that someone who mined so much fear and ignorance chasing the almighty dollar will always – always always fucking always – be known as a disgusting piece of shit who preyed on women in the workplace.

  • daves09

    But where is Donnie’s tribute in all this? Frightening to realize that he may have even a little self control.

    • efgoldman

      But where is Donnie’s tribute in all this?

      I’m a little surprised – yes, really – that Nectarine Narcissist hasn’t declared a National day, or week, or month, of mourning, with a state funeral and flags at half staff.

  • TexRipples

    Nation In Mourning: Roger Ailes, America’s Jolly Grandpa Who Was Always Pulling Beloved Goofs On Ladies, Has Been Murdered By The Deep State – http://www.clickhole.com/article/nation-mourning-roger-ailes-americas-jolly-grandpa-6090

  • Roger Ailes created a great place where a stunningly diverse group of people could hang out. Beautiful green dancers, live music from the Max Rebo Band, and the Rancor pit to keep the rowdies in check.

  • bobbyhurley

    Heard he took ‘hit the head’ way too literally.

  • varmintito

    “But fuck one goat . . .”
    http://www.humorbin.com/showitem.asp?item=20

  • M. Davidson

    It’s a real shame that Hunter S Thompson left before Ailes. The former was a master at writing the obituary and would’ve given that nasty piece of work his rightful sending off.

  • RPorrofatto

    Two words not mentioned here or in the other obits: Tea Party. Without Fox’s free 24/7 promotion worth millions (not to mention actual millions in cash) there would be no Freedom Caucus, no elected slime like Matt Bevin, and Eric Cantor would probably still have a job.

    Ailes and his TV/talk-radio progeny have poisoned the minds of too many decent people with hate and idiocy. In my view, they are no better than terrorists in their amoral vileness, but lightyears more effective than terrorists in the damage they’ve inflicted on our country.

  • mikeSchilling

    Shepard Smith’s nuanced remembrance of Ailes was touching, and I suspect truer than anything that paints him as either a hero or a complete villain.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ENsPlo_cUA

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