Back when lawyer jokes were big, I remember the joke: Q. Why are laboratory scientists switching from rats to lawyers for their experiments? A. There’s some things the rats just won’t do. The reason I’m a liberal is that I believe that sometimes the reason people ascend to the highest Galtian heights is that they are willing to do some things most people wouldn’t.
Conservatives would always have us believe that it’s their primal scent or patriotism or understanding of nominal dollars and regulatory capture (unless the rich people were liberals), but I think some people get rich simply by being bigger assholes than anyone else is willing to be. So is with Roger Ailes, the subject of an excellent recent Esquire profile.
What kind of man wins all the time? What kind of man gives his country, in roughly this order, Mike Douglas, Richard Nixon, Tom Snyder, Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America,” the Willie Horton ad, the ad in which Michael Dukakis rides around in a tank and looks like a chipmunk, the presidency of George H. W. Bush, CNBC, Fox News (upstart-insurgent edition), Fox News (airwaves-of-the-empire edition), Fox News (“Obama sux” edition), and Fox News (Tea Party edition)? More pointedly, what kind of man figures out at age twenty-seven how to use television to legitimize Richard Nixon and then at age seventy to legitimize Sarah Palin?[….]
He asks for quarter when he has given none, asks for sympathy when he has offered none, asks for fairness when he has been “fair and balanced,” asks for consideration while admitting that the only consideration he has ever shown is consideration for his mission, whatever that may be.
And yet of course there are many ready to hail him as a genius:
There’s a professor at the Columbia University School of Journalism by the name of Dick Wald. Yeah, yeah, we know — Roger Ailes doesn’t give a CNN ratings share about what some professor at Columbia journalism school has to say. Indeed, whenever he’s asked what qualifies him to be the head of a major television-news network, he gives the same answer: “I dug ditches for a living, there are no parties that I want to go to, and I didn’t go to Columbia journalism school.” But Professor Wald is no mere don, no mere pointy-headed practitioner of the liberal arts. He used to be the president of NBC News. He likes Roger Ailes. And if you ask him the secret of Mr. Ailes’s success, he’ll say it’s pretty simple: “Roger, in many ways, is just more competent. He just does it better. The anchors are better. The crispness of the reporting is better. The anchors don’t interrupt, the shows move along, and the point of view is clear. It’s just a good product. Roger found an area in which he could reach each audience member individually. That’s the big difference between Fox and CNN.”
All this shit about his “good product”. How hard is it to have buxom blondes describe titillating stories with a information crawl at the bottom?
I am not confident that our society will survive Fox News. I think we will, but only because of demographic changes. But, hey, Ailes won, pin a medal on him and build a statue. All hail the Galtian hero. He’s worth millions, what are you worth?