Bozell Column: Here Come the Ailes Haters

One part of the liberal media’s Obama re-election effort is well under way: trying to destroy the reputation of Fox News and its president, Roger Ailes. Two long new magazine “exposes” have attempted to demonize Ailes and his allegedly brain-dead minions as the antithesis of good journalism.

The funnier one came from Rolling Stone magazine, which ran the title “How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory.” How little does this rag understand good journalism? It took only a few lines before staff writer/fantasist Tim Dickinson fell on his face. After painting a picture of employees loyally cheering the boss at a holiday party, Dickinson entertained comparisons to...Mao Zedong.

“It was as though we were looking at Mao,” said disgruntled ex-employee Charlie Reina. “It’s like the Soviet Union or China: People are always looking over their shoulders,” added “a former executive” with News Corporation. Dickinson also said Ailes runs “the most formidable propaganda machine ever seen outside the communist bloc.”

Put aside that Ailes isn’t responsible for 70 million deaths and mass cannibalism, and that his politics are essentially the philosophical opposite of communism – and OK, he’s Mao. 

More journalistic idiocy: Rolling Stone vaguely reported this Chairman Roger holiday party took place the year Fox overtook CNN in the cable ratings. That would be...2002. A nine-year-old useless anecdote isn’t “news” – unless you’re Rolling Stone and need to discuss journalism.

Like every other leftist rag, Rolling Stone asserted Ailes wasn’t running a news network, but a permanent campaign. “The network, at its core, is a giant soundstage created to mimic the look and feel of a news operation, cleverly camouflaging political propaganda as independent journalism.” 

It’s amusing to see a magazine express tender concern about the state of journalism while its cover story is “Monster Goddess: A Wild Week with Lady Gaga,” with Gaga in a black lace bra on the cover. 

So let’s ask if Rolling Stone has the sense of fairness and balance that allows it to denounce Fox News as too political. This is the same magazine that ran two worshipful Obama covers last time, one without any words and the other with a worshipful, glowing aura around Barack (could we reverse the Mao analogies, anyone?). 

In the summer of 2008, Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner ended an interview with Obama -- whose campaign he financially supported -- by saying, "Good luck. We are following you daily with great hope and admiration."

Fox News being criticized by Rolling Stone is a little like being mocked as unserious journalists by Tiger Beat.

 


The other anti-Ailes story came from New York magazine. The cover read “Fox News made a circus out of the Republican Party. And boy, does Roger Ailes regret it now.”

Reporter Gabriel Sherman blamed Fox for ruining the GOP primary field. “So it must have been disturbing to Ailes when the wheels started to come off Fox's presidential-circus caravan. All he had to do was watch Fox's May 5 debate in South Carolina to see what a mess the field was – a mess partly created by the loudmouths he'd given airtime to and a tea party he'd nurtured.”

So in two sentences it’s established as empirical truth that a) the GOP will not capture the White House in 2012 because b) its candidates are disasters because c) Fox created them because d) Ailes wants to control the world (or something like that). Two sentences. 

The hot quote in the Sherman story was someone claiming Ailes thought Sarah Palin is an “idiot.” Here we go with those anonymous sources again. Ailes is trashed by “a person close to Ailes,” “another Republican close to Ailes,” “a GOPer who knows Ailes well,” “a person familiar with his thinking” and “a former Fox executive.” These sources could all be the same individual, for all the reader knows. Or the author. Or nobody. (Ask Jayson Blair or Janet Cooke how this works.) 

Roger Ailes is not the “head of the Republican Party,” as these writers claim. One can question Ailes for hiring a pile of potential presidential candidates as on-air analysts. But it’s downright bizarre that liberal reporters would pretend that Fox is glaringly unique with Clinton press secretary George Stephanopoulos anchoring at ABC, and Eliot Spitzer anchoring at CNN, and Jay Carney moving effortlessly from Time magazine to the Obama-Biden press operation.

Since when has there not been a transparently partisan liberal media elite much larger and more numerous than Fox, “cleverly camouflaging political propaganda as independent journalism”? Did we just imagine all the “historic” promotional hot air and leg-thrill orations that inflated Obama’s balloon in 2008?

The major named sources in Sherman’s story were Obama spinners David Axelrod and Anita Dunn. She insisted Ailes is “great at making the mainstream press feel guilty about their liberal bias.” Okay, so they got one thing right.

Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell is the Founder and President of the Media Research Center