9.29.2011

Good news if you missed it

I am listening to Mississippi writer Greg Iles’ “The Footprints of God” in which (spoiler warning) a dying billionaire is attempting to achieve immortality and God-like power by transferring his brain to a supercomputer. (A little closer to possible than in the days of "Open the pod bay door, Hal.")

In this book, Iles explains “The Mushroom Treatment:” “Keep them in the dark and feed them bullshit.”

Forget any perceived resemblance to Rupert Murdoch, Iles’ “Mushroom Treatment” has for too long been the goal of Fox News Channel. Given the cable news (I use the term loosely) network’s ratings and undeniable influence on its viewers (aka "fans"), the following is really good news from CEO Roger Ailes:

Roger Ailes: Fox News Is On A 'Course Correction' Away From Far Right

The Huffington Post/Jack Mirkinson (LINK)
September 26, 2011

Fox News CEO Roger Ailes has given one of his typically candid interviews to Newsweek. The interview was published Monday (9/26/11).

For a man who first made his name as a media guru for Richard Nixon, Ailes is often surprisingly forthcoming about Fox News and his opinions. In previous interviews, he has called NPR executives "Nazis" (he later apologized), said he didn't mind if people thought Glenn Beck was fired from the channel, and admitted that he wants both Bill and Hillary Clinton to join Fox News.

Behind the scenes, Ailes is reported to have clashed with Sarah Palin and told Beck to cool his more controversial rhetoric.

Monday's interview offered up more of Ailes' unvarnished opinions about his network and his employees. He made a big admission to Newsweek, saying that he has made a "course correction" at Fox News, veering it away from the hard-right line it took in the earlier days of the Obama administration. (Ailes offered a preview of this strategy in January, when he told Russell Simmons that he had ordered his anchors and pundits to "tone it down" in the wake of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting.) Beck's departure, as well as a more nuanced approach to his most famous pundit, Sarah Palin, have been part of that strategy, Ailes said.

He also spoke openly about many of his anchors, saying that Bill O'Reilly "hates" Sean Hannity because he's jealous of his radio success (and thus confirming years of rumors about the animosity between the two).

Ailes also called Hannity "predictable" and said that he sometimes has to have a word with Shepard Smith when Smith says things that may not go over well with the Fox News crowd. (He didn't say whether he was referring to Smith's seemingly pro-union comments about the Wisconsin protests, or his saying that the killing of Osama bin Laden was illegal and that American foreign policy is on a dangerous path.)

BJ NOTE: The full Newsweek article is fascinating. Ailes discusses his relationships with GOP presidential hopefuls, including Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. Good stuff! Read it HERE.

***

Thanks to frequent DemWit reader "Tiny" for keeping me on my toes and not letting this one get by me.

11 comments:

Sue said...

I hadn't heard this BJ, it's very interesting and I will read the whole story. I can't help but think about those extreme rightwing hosts on Fox and Friends, wonder if they'll get the boot? They are the worst of the worse on Fox...well after Hannity of course!

Hope you are feeling better these days!

Leslie Parsley said...

God help me. I don't know why but I just can't trust anything this man says. Wonder if there is the threat of an investigation down the road? If Ailes had ever had any desire for a "course correction" he would have swung into the center lane a long time ago.

Octopus said...

I must say - I share Leslie's skepticism. After the Tucson massacre, i.e., after Ailes said "tone it down," nothing has changed at Fox.

Confirmation of the O'Reilly-Hannity feud is frankly irrelevant; the verbal abuse and excess rhetoric continues unabated.

Has the NotW hacking scandal played a part? Perhaps. There is a massive class-action lawsuit coming to America ... all 4,000 victims are staking a claim.

My hot stock tip of the year: Short sell News Corp.

Frodo, who keeps track of stuff like this said...

In a prior life, Roger Ailes had the name Rudolph Hess.

B.J. said...

I know every person behind every comment here, like me, realizes how much Fox News has hurt this country. I feel it in a very personal way. Roger Ailes has not had a fit of conscience – he, more than anyone else, has learned that the tea party doesn’t sell. I believe that’s good news.

At the end of this post, there is a link to Newsweek’s “inside Fox News” exposé, skillfully written by Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post and CNN’s “Reliable Sources.” I do wish everyone would read it. Here’s a quote:

“As he embarks on his last hurrah—Ailes’ contract is up in 2013—he is acting not like a political operative but as a corporate chieftain who knows that fostering friction and picking fights make for good television—and good business. Next fall’s election could well pivot on whether Ailes is more interested in scoring political points or ramping up ratings and revenue.”

Ailes responded to our letters, emails and phone calls about Glenn Beck. He’s not being paid $23 million a year to be dumb. I believe he is as embarrassed by the right’s lunatic fringe – and its influence on the Repulbican leadership – as we are.

Octopus said...

BJ,
According to Howell Rains, former executive editor of the New York Times:

[Fox News] has overturned standards of fairness and objectivity that have guided American print and broadcast journalism since World War II … Why has our profession, through its general silence – or only spasmodic protest – helped Fox legitimize a style of journalism that is dishonest in its intellectual process, untrustworthy in it [sic] conclusions and biased in its gestalt?

For Howell Rains, the answer lies in economics, in the collapse of print journalism, and steep losses in audience share at CNN, CBS, ABC, and NBC.

Roger Ailes is at the center of the collapse in journalistic integrity. He has always boasted about seeing himself as a producer of ratings rather than as a journalist, that audience share is his only yardstick.

The American public has paid a terrible price - in journalistic abuse, political pandering, and bad policy - for me to see any silver lining under this dark cloud. The trench confessions of a murderer will not bring back this corpse Lazarus-like from the dead.

B.J. said...

Dum dee dum dum, driftwood. That’s just something I say when I am at a loss for words. But, I’ll try.

I trust I haven’t given the impressin I am defending Fox News. It’s pretty clear in Kurtz’s Newsweek article how Roger Ailes operates, and Kurtz’s last line speaks volumns. Ailes’ biggest coup has been to convince viewers (aka “fans”) to trust no other news source. (Note how deftly he attacks the Associated Press. Note as well that he is delusional.)

After 10 years of monitoring FNC’s propaganda and personally witnessing its effects, I don’t expect miracles, but if Ailes makes any effort to tone down the radical right rhetoric, it can’t hurt.

In my opinion, MSNBC has become the left’s Fox News. As Kurtz points out, cable news has become notoriously partisan. As I have said many times, if you only seek out news sources which agree with you, you don’t want news, you want validation.

Newspapers traditionally strive for objectivity in news and limit opinion to pages clearly marked as such. On cable news, the two are blurred. Remember the guy who used to sell The Nation on TV, claiming the magazine “peels through layers of obfuscation”? That’s pretty much what we have to do, are obligated to do these days to get at truth.

Another Iles’ quote: “Evil cannot exist in the light of truth.”

Octopus said...

My apologies, BJ
Every time the subject of Fox News appears, it takes this cephalopod forever to climb down from inking the aquarium. The last time I wrote about Roger AIles, I was in intensive care for over 3 months months.

B.J. said...

LOL, Octopus. Like you, I have tough skin. I just felt like I wasn’t communicating. As Greg Iles says at the end of “Acknowledgements” in every book: “The mistakes are mine.

Tiny's two cents worth said...

As Tiny told an old school mate, anyone can get a spot on "media" to spout propaganda. What we lack on TV and in most of the print today are investigative journalist who bring us the "news." Truth in reporting is what people who care are looking for. The rest don't give a crap and a big rat's ass!

Tiny will not be surprised to see hacking investigations transpire into Rupert's American airways. Evil and greed seem to have no bounds at this juncture in society.

Nance said...

I'm looking forward to the extended version of this interview. Thanks, BJ.

He who sups with the Devil should have a long spoon.