May 18, 2017

An interesting crop of obituaries

Using this space for excerpts and linked to Roger Ailes obituaries:

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

We are a hate-filled, paranoid, untrusting, book-dumb and bilious people whose chief source of recreation is slinging insults and threats at each other online, and we're that way in large part because of the hyper-divisive media environment he discovered.

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.


Bill O'Reilly, USA Today

When stuff hit the fan, as it will when you are doing daily political commentary in a polarized nation, Roger had my back. Even in the beginning when my ratings were not dominant. He defended me in public even while sometimes mocking me in private. He was genuine, charismatic, profane, generous and sincere in his beliefs. He could be brutal verbally but if you were straight with him, he would protect you.

Over the years, I saw Roger literally save people from destruction. And more than a few. He didn't have to do it, there was no benefit to him. In the callous world of TV news, that kind of generosity is rare. If a Fox person had trouble, Roger was the guy to go to. But you had to be honest...

It's easy to make judgments from afar — but fair people know that seeking the truth is a complicated and demanding process. In my opinion, few sought the comprehensive truth about Roger Ailes.


Michael Carlson, The Guardian
While working successfully for big tobacco to stop Bill Clinton’s healthcare reform, Ailes also began producing a syndicated TV show for the radio “shock-jock” Rush Limbaugh, which became a massive hit. He took over the failing CNBC business channel, tripled its profits and made stars of the combative host Chris Matthews and stunning business reporter Maria Bartiromo, setting a formula he followed at Fox: men apparently chosen for bombast and women for looks. But when a second channel he started for NBC, called America Talks, was taken from him and turned into MSNBC, Ailes left the network in 1996 and teamed up with Rupert Murdoch to launch Fox News.


Clyde Haberman, New York Times

As [Fox News'] chairman and chief executive, Mr. Ailes was widely feared, particularly by conservative politicians who sought his favor. He cultivated a swaggering persona, accentuated by bursts of obscenity-laced anger. Once, he became so enraged that he punched a hole in the wall of a control room.

“I don’t ignore anything,” he acknowledged in a 2003 profile in The New Yorker. “Somebody gets in my face, I get in their face.”

Years earlier, Lee Atwater, whose remorseless approach to politics matched that of Mr. Ailes when they worked together on George H.W. Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign, described his colleague as having “two speeds: attack and destroy.”


Stephen Battaglio, Los Angeles Times

[Former CNN president Rick] Kaplan said Ailes was also a brilliant TV producer who was keenly aware that even with talking heads, he was working in a visual medium. Fox News always had state-of-the-art graphics and animation. His penchant for putting attractive women on the air, with legs displayed on the set, was well known.

“Roger has a very visually pleasing network in terms of look and color and form,” Kaplan said. “Roger cared about what it looked like.”


The Onion


TOF Comment
Say what you want about the whole sex predator / wrecking American political discourse thing, I thought this book by Ailes, first published in the late 80s, was excellent.  Following its advice helped my career.  Goes in the same bin as the Cosby albums now, but still.


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