Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Second Coming of William Randolph Hearst?

Jill Lepore compares Roger Ailes to a previous sensationalistic, demagogue and media mogul, William Randolph Hearst.  I found this indictment of the impact of Fox News and the rest of the conservative media machine on Republican electoral outcomes to be interesting:
“You don’t get me,” Ailes told Sherman (Ailes' unauthorized biographer), when they met at a party. “You don’t get me” is what Fox News viewers across the country have been saying to the Washington press corps since the channel started, and fair enough. Still, in the end, the overturning of American journalism hasn’t served their interests, or anyone’s. Well-reported news is a public good; bad news is bad for everyone.
Sherman sees Ailes as a kingmaker, which isn’t entirely convincing. Ailes is an entertainer. He’s also a bogeyman. Raymond Gram Swing noticed that Hearst was largely a projection of his readers: “If he ever indulges in introspection his tragedy must be in seeing that for all his power, for all his being the biggest publisher in the world, he is not a leader, never has been a leader and never could be a leader.” Hearst died in 1951. Between 1952 and 1988, an era marked by the Fairness Doctrine (and, according to conservatives, a liberal media), Republicans won seven out of ten Presidential elections. Between 1988 and 2012, during the ascendancy of conservative media, Republicans won only three out of seven Presidential elections. When Mitt Romney lost, Ailes blamed the Party. “The G.O.P. couldn’t organize a one-car funeral,” he said. Another explanation is that the conservative media drove the Party into a graveyard.
I think the neverending purity tests and purges of moderates from the G.O.P. orchestrated by a conservative media more concerned with raking in revenue and fleecing the rubes than in promoting any sort of competent governance or actual public service have soured the majority of Americans on the Republican party.  By playing to the biases of a disaffected segment of the citizenry, Ailes and his media ilk have managed to make conservative politicians anathema to fast growing segments of the population.  If they don't change direction soon, the party will be severely damaged.

On a side note, I didn't know that Ailes grew up in Warren, Ohio and is an OU alum.  I learn something new every day.

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