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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Today the Weekend Reader brings you The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News–And Divided a Countrythe new controversial biography of the Fox News mogul by New York magazine contributing editor Gabriel Sherman. The Loudest Voice in the Room is the result of years of interviews and research into the backstory, inner workings, and dynamics of Fox News and the man who created it.

You can purchase the book here.

For Ailes, Obama’s meteoric ascent onto the national stage was yet another triumph of the counterculture and the liberal news media. “People need to be reminded,” Ailes told Fox News executives around the time Obama declared his candidacy, “this guy never had a job. He’s a community organizer.” A few days after Obama’s historic election, Ailes remarked during his morning editorial meeting, “There’s no reason to have a civil rights movement anymore, since there is a black man in the White House.” Obama’s victory changed the mission of Fox News. “When he started the channel, it was a campaign against CNN. But it is now less about the competition and more about the administration,” a former senior Fox producer said. “He honestly thinks Obama has set back the country forever. He feels like he is the only one out there who can save the republic. He has said it.”

Ailes’s battle did not end when he left the office. At his weekend estate in Putnam County, some forty miles north of New York City, Ailes bought the local newspaper and used it to advance his agenda. He complained to neighbors that Obama refused to call Muslims “terrorists.” He told them that Obama was using the stimulus as a “political tool” in order to buy his reelection in 2012. Obama pushed green energy, when in fact climate change was a “worldwide conspiracy” spun by “foreign nations” to gain control of America’s resources.

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Ailes even told his advisers that if Obama were reelected, he could be prosecuted and jailed, like a political prisoner. During a forty-five-minute meeting at Bill Clinton’s foundation in Harlem, Ailes told the former president that he might emigrate to Ireland, and had explored acquiring an Irish passport.

And yet, in the halls of the White House, Ailes kept these feelings to himself. As he walked up to Obama to shake his hand and pose for a photo, he faced a very different politician than the one he’d first met in the summer of 2008. At the time, Obama was a candidate who believed in his ability to overcome the grievance politics of the past through the force of his personal narrative. He told his aides he thought he could win over Fox’s audience—and even Ailes himself—by reasoning with them. Now, nearly three years into his first term, Obama had learned—often the hard way—that his vision of harmony was a pipe dream.

On the rope line, Obama greeted Ailes and his son.

“I see the most powerful man in the world is here,” Obama said. Ailes grinned. “Don’t believe what you read, Mr. President. I started those rumors myself.”

Whatever President Obama intended to convey, there is no denying an essential truth in the remark. Roger Ailes has the power, more than any single person in American public life, to define the president. For many Americans—admittedly and patently not the ones that voted for him— the Obama they know, the one they are raging against, is the one Ailes has played a large role creating.

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29 responses to “Weekend Reader: ‘The Loudest Voice In The Room: How The Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News — And Divided A Country’”

  1. FredAppell says:

    Roger Ailes is a major narcissist, nobody would dispute that claim, however, he would never have been able to seize the kind of power and control that he did without the realization that many viewers were obviously disillusioned with the news they were receiving and the manner in which it was delivered. If someone truly likes something, they’re not going to give it up. Ailes knew that there were Americans that had a massive distrust of the establishment
    so he created a product that speaks directly to them. Unfortunately, this article doesn’t really touch on that, yes it’s informative to a degree but it fails to capture the true essence of Ailes’s genius in recognizing all that I have said above.

    I don’t mean to sound like I’m waxing poetic about the guy, Ailes scares the crap out of me for all the very reasons the article mentions. He wants to be a King maker and puppet master at the same time. I detest everything he stands for but that doesn’t detract away from just how dangerous he is.

    He has a vision for America that I have never seen in my lifetime nor I am eager to experience it in the future. There definitely is a culture war going on, probably always will be but the longer the economic hardships last, the more converts FOX News will gain.

    • Moshulu says:

      “He wants to be a King maker and puppet master at the same time.”

      What’s amusing in your statement about Ailes is that it is
      exactly what many Republicans complain about what President Obama wants to be, “a king, a monarch!”

      So for those very Republicans who believe it bad under President Obama, would be ok if it were an Ailes, Republican run monarchy?

      • FredAppell says:

        BINGO! Because they share Ailes’s vision for America, they’re willing to overlook such facts. Think back to the last 34 years or so at all the Presidential controversies. Bush Jr.’s illegal attack of Iraq, neo-cons stayed silent, conservative martyr Ronald Reagan’s Iran-Contra scandal,
        we armed Iran (a sworn enemy of the U.S. whom we had an arms embargo against), during the time that we were also arming Saddam Hussein’s military to fight against Iran, neo-con’s stayed silent, or how about the neo-cons arming the Mujahideen to fight against the Soviets, (again, during Reagan’s presidency), that one turned out so well for us didn’t it, yep, you guessed it, neo-cons stayed silent. President Obama looks like a choir boy compared to these guys.They know it too, but they have to create a false image of Obama in order to cover up the damage they’ve done to America.

        I purposely left out Clinton’s scandals because they also don’t really compare to the damage conservatives have done to this country. They have a diseased mind set and
        we have to draw our line in the sand it we’re going to defeat them.

        • Mark Forsyth says:

          I am in whole hearted agreement but just where do we draw the line.Should it be drawn at the point where our citizen vote has become useless and we are entirely disenfranchised or do we wait and draw the line when children are sick and starving.Many of their parents are already unemployed and as recently as last week,the House voted in favor of a new farm bill that includes further cuts to food stamps.My own democrat in name only representative voted in favor of that bill and we cannot get enough of our elected officials to work to get the money out of politics.
          I have never been a war hawk and I am not an advocate for violence but it seems increasingly unavoidable if we are to preserve a free and Democratic Republic without something and or someone to cause this slide towards fascism to stop and turn around soon.

          • FredAppell says:

            Hey Mark, how are you.
            Regrettably, I got caught up in the moment, you’re right, that line in the sand should have been drawn a long time ago. Every time we try to stand our ground
            we end up losing a little more. Let’s face it, the ruling elite doesn’t think we’re worth the effort or smart enough to be part of a working Democracy. Now, don’t mistake my meaning of ruling elite, I’m not necessarily referring to the politicians, they’re just the puppets for the real power that makes up the ruling class.

            One of your statements in particular stood out to me, “without something or someone to cause this slide
            towards Fascism to stop and turn around soon”.
            You pretty much stated what the something is but the someone is the hard part, this hypothetical someone would also have to be a person with a lot of skill at deception. There is no other way for someone like this to avoid the eyes and ears of the ones they’re trying to bring down, let alone having the charisma to unite the people of two different Americas.

          • Mark Forsyth says:

            I’m good Fred,hope you are too.I got a bit of ice fishing done on Friday.I need a break from the issues now and then.
            While I certainly am no racist,it’s clear that Obama cannot unite the two Americas that exist now.The problem as I see it consists not only of racial and wealth divisions but also of things that I can’t quite put my finger on or wrap my mind around enough to express in words.While there are specific individuals that give me hope for the nation whom I’ve mentioned in previous conversations,I fear for their ultimate success for the very opposition that you mention.How long do we continue to rely on them and our vote before we are forced to seek alternative methods?
            Since November 1963 or if you prefer,April 1865,the opposition to a free and equal Democratic Republic have repeatedly shown the world,their willingness to use deadly force to prevent its furtherance each time a true Peoples Champion shows up to lead us forward.Frankly Fred,I am goddamn sick of it and it makes my patriotic American blood boil when such an ignorant dolt comes on-line here to suggest that there is no need for voter protection because of voter apathy and some unidentified source that says only 50% of elegible voters do so.
            That is another issue but it all plays into the effort to suppress the true will of the people.It in no way pleases me to say that it may be time to meet their violence with violence and I remain open to any suggestions that have a chance of working,short of that desperate measure.

          • FredAppell says:

            I hear that! I play guitar as my outlet, it helps keep me sane and focused.

            I know you’re not racist, you don’t come off sounding that way at all. Your right, so far Obama hasn’t been able to unite the two Americas, it’s highly doubtful that he can but I believe he has tried in a futile attempt to do so. The divisions in America can’t be simplified in terms of race and wealth alone, to do so is silly and does a disservice to the heart of the problem. It’s way too complex, one look at the current GOP is evidence of that, there are so many fractures
            in that party that it’s a mystery to me how anyone is managing to hold it all together. It certainly makes for some strange bedfellows but it’s unlikely that that party will continue as we know it much beyond the next couple of years.

            The Democratic party is most likely headed for the same type of situation. Look at The National
            Memo for instance as our own little social experiment, even in this echo chamber, folks have managed to find something to bicker about.
            There doesn’t seem to be enough mutual respect of differences to bring enough of us together for one major cause. It’s doubtful whether or not a
            revolution could succeed beyond our tribal loyalties, it might for awhile, but I could easily see how it might develop beyond it’s original intent as many players would vie for control. That’s a scary thought and one that I contemplate over often.

          • Mark Forsyth says:

            I would say that the major objective for otherwise reasonable people to succeed is to find common ground.It is so mush easier without any effort required to see our differences but it does require a conscious and concerted effort to explore those places where we all agree.We will know the enemy by its divide and conquer attitude.
            “The revolution starts between the ears and begins to take form and move when a basic concept that opposes the status quo is shared by the masses.A patriot is one who is willing to stand up and tell the truth in front of the burdensome lie.”
            Mark Forsyth
            November 7,2011

          • FredAppell says:

            I hope there will be enough reasonable people when and if the time should ever arrive. Maybe once people realize that they have nothing left to lose, then and only then will we all realize what we must do.

            I like your quote, spoken like a true warrior, you told me you’re from the warrior class and you certainly sound like it (that’s a compliment). I’m gonna sign off for now buddy, the Super Bowl’s calling my name.
            I’ll talk to you soon.

          • Mark Forsyth says:

            Thanks Fred.Enjoy the game and have a good night.

          • charleo1 says:

            I am with you! I also hear your, well frustration,
            is too weak a word, isn’t it? Consternation? No, that’s not it. How about the fact, the guy they insisted you were an idiot. if you didn’t vote for
            him to be your President. Would have made the perfect little Storm Trooper in another place, and time? Really not all that long ago, or far away? Well, that’s the deal I’m counting on. The 1st Amend. always allows plenty of rope, just in case the persons or political party wants to hang themselves, after a particularly nasty case of comeuppance. And there ain’t no way in hell, Republicans aren’t due for one. For one thing, sooner or later, it’s going to be very apparent they really don’t have any answers. They’re just play acting, while carrying water for a few wacko billionaires, and the corporate crowd. Same as Fox, same as Limbaugh, as Ted Cruz, Rand Paul,
            Mitch McConnell, or John Boehner. Even Louie Gohmert, and Michelle Bachman have their fans.
            Nutty politicians, for nutty constituents. Out in favor of something, that isn’t for anything, but their
            own narrow selfish interests. That’s why they say,
            No, all the time. There are just a limited number
            of things corporations, and billionaires want from
            their government, other than their own hand picked, people in charge. They want to write the
            rules, and have everybody else pay their bills. Now, if a few Theocrats want to help us do that.
            If they wreck the public schools, and install their own brand of Puritanism on the working class. Outlaw abortion, keep abortion, it doesn’t matter one bit. If it distracts the public’s attention from the wholesale looting, and pillaging, and eliminates the public sector unions, what do we care? Their platform is we’ve got ours, who cares about you? We’re White, and right, and you’re not. To the working poor, you may have a full time job, or healthcare. But not both. Work is it’s own reward. Not, the size of your paycheck. That’s freedom! To Latinos, we wish you weren’t here, but we want your vote. To your immigrant parents, we’ll fight the right flank of our own Party that wants to round you up, and haul you out of the Country.
            To make sure for our corporate wing, you’re a second class class citizen with no Rights whatsoever, as long as you live. Oh, and tell your kids, we’re the Party that shares those family values, we know are so important to you people!
            Poor things. They can’t help themselves.

          • Mark Forsyth says:

            I’m fairly certain that there are some Americans that will not survive the wait.Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • progressiveandproud says:

      He would not have gotten where he is if ronnie raygun had not eliminated the Fairness Doctrine. When you have one group or a small group able to control the media, you eventually have a country divided as we are now. Goebells was an excellent role model of Ailes and his crew.

      • FredAppell says:

        It’s so blatantly obvious to anyone with a working brain that Ailes had no intention of having a serious opposite viewpoint when FOX hired their token liberal Allan Combs. He was constantly and deliberately made to look like a buffoon. But as long as he was there, they could make their case for being fair and balanced (eye roll).

        Hell, many still can’t bring themselves to admit that FOX and Ailes are right wing. At least most of us have the intellectual honesty to acknowledge MSNBC is left of center. Goebells would be proud of his American minions.

        • Patricia Richard says:


          ◭◭◭ ◭◭�◭ ◭◭◭ ◭◭◭◭ ◭�◭◭They have a diseased mind set and
          we have to draw our line in the sand if we’re going to defeat them.

  2. Hal O'Brien says:

    “All of Obama’s efforts as a conciliator cannot change the fact that conflict is intrinsically more interesting than consensus.”

    No, actually, it isn’t… which goes a long way to explaining why so many more Americans paid attention to the news (on radio, TV, and paper) when it was more about consensus, than today when it’s about posturing. The usual excuse given is there are so many more choices – I don’t think that’s the true cause. I think it’s because the shouting heads are utterly boring and predictable, and the news channels have done their best to chase their audiences away by serving up such boring fare.

    Fox may have come to dominate the current scene, yes… But while they’re a big fish, the pond has shrunk considerably.

    • FredAppell says:

      You’re right, but both of us failed to mention another element as to why news operates this way…Advertising dollars goes a long way in determining what kind of news will be reported and the format in which it is discussed. Obviously that goes both ways as the big three MSNBC, CNN and FOX all operate under the same business model.
      Most of us know this before we tune into these news networks but the one exception is the average FOX viewer…With FOX’s catch phrases such as “Fair and Balanced” and “We Report, You Decide”,
      FOX has managed to fool the majority of their audience. Some moderates don’t even realize they’ve been duped until it’s too late.

  3. charleo1 says:

    “We should support whatever the enemy opposes and oppose whatever the enemy supports.” Mao Zedong: Interview with Three Correspondents from the Central News Agency, “the Sao Tang Pao and the Hsin Min Pao” (September 16, 1939), Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 272.

    Straight from the mouth of one of the 20th Century’s most dedicated ideologues, and most prolific mass murderers. In case we’d like to provide ourselves with some false comfort about the potential harm that may be done to a people, or a Country, by lying propagandists such as Roger Ailes. Notice Mao didn’t say, nor has Ailes, we should have a dialogue about the best course for the Country. That we should love our Country, more than we hate the opposition. Absolutely not! We should first see our opponent as, “the enemy,” then oppose whatever that enemy supports. I can think of no more accurate characterization of the Republican Party’s strategy, than that. There is nothing so frustrating, or ultimately frightening to converse with a person that has had the most fundamental tenets of our society, or of their own religion, turned so completely on it’s head. And be totally unaware the transition had taken place. So slick was it’s completion. Even phrases synonymous with our Country’s unique achievements in representative Government, “By the People,” E Pluribus Unum, or United We Stand, Divided We Fall, will be
    met with chides of, “Comrade.” As Evangelical Televangelists fill their mega-churches each Sunday morning with 40,000 eager souls. Only to
    abandon the message of Jesus and the New Testament. Finding grist
    for their politically charged sermons in the divisive, Old Testament, and
    the necessary fear for their Apocalyptic hyperbole contained in the
    Book of Revelation, to shepherd their flock to Plutocratic serving politicians, scapegoating both the poor, and their advocates as evildoers,
    intent on robbing them of their freedom. And, in the background, and in
    the forefront, both driving, and prodding, encouraging, and agreeing.
    Objecting, or affirming, providing the cynicism, and the certainty, both magnifying, or omitting, for the consideration of a audience who’s
    minds they have made up for them. Long before they offer their, “Fair, and Balanced,” or, “We report, you decide.”

    The Big Lie (German: Große Lüge) is a propaganda technique. The expression was coined by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, about the use of a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” Hitler asserted the technique was used by Jews to unfairly blame Germany’s loss in World War I on German Army officer Erich Ludendorff.

  4. Mark Forsyth says:

    Roger Ailes is a fascist propaganda merchant just as surely as was the Nazi propagandist Goebbels.He and his Fox machine along with the viewers and Tbagger minions have scapegoated a growing number of the middle class,unemployed,poor,sick,disabled,and elderly,all of whom rely to some extent on Social Safety Net programs,the same way that the Nazis scapegoated the Jews for Germanys’ problems.
    If the Fox machine exists solely due to Ailes,then at least we know whose influence to eliminate.It only remains to determine the means.

    • 4sanity4all says:

      I completely agree with your summing up of Ailes. He is either off mentally, or he is an evil manipulator. His world view is sick, for sure. That being said, if the major news networks would provide fair and balanced news reporting, it would dilute the poison that Ailes and right wing radio is dishing out. But it has become the fashion to give sketchy headline news, with little fact checking and no in-depth reporting. And most air time is given over to gruesome fare, like shootings and crashes, and the latest exploits of celebrities who are famous for being famous. There is no effort to supply details that would help the viewer to have a solid understanding of what is being reported. Years ago, a reporter would have included details like the name and title of the ruler of a country, and the country where the town being referred to is located. Now, they mention names and towns without these types of reference points, and they breeze past the story, leaving you confused and uninformed. Also, years ago, you didn’t know the political leanings of a station, because reporters presented both sides of every issue, without editorializing. And editorial pieces were clearly labeled as such. Ailes is not trying to present news, really. When his news organization was sued for not being balanced or fair, his defense was that they are NOT a news organization, but an entertainment organization. The court should have required them to clearly tell their viewers that detail.

      • Mark Forsyth says:

        Perhaps the court gives Fox fans too much credit for having the ability to know that pundits have no interest in facts and only use scraps of actual news to make their point,always slanted.Sadly,the majority are unable to differentiate punditry from accurate news journalism.

  5. charles king says:

    No big deal Mr. Roger That is the beauty of our Democracy Vs Plutocracy
    You can have all the MONIES in the world but as long as the People use their voting Power and (Critical Thinking) Like Who? the hell are you. What? the hell do you want. What? the hell going on in your life, is it that When? you were a kid, nobody played with you, I am sorry. Thank You are the magic words in my book. I Love Ya All. People ! keep your Democracy Alive and You know that Democracy works because We would not? have put Our President Obama with his Obamacare for a second time around and He sure is doing a good job With-out? the help of the Republicans In Congress. Democracy (WORKS) Mr. C. E. KING

    • Mark Forsyth says:

      Sorry Charles,while I catch the main drift of your words,your use of the question marks escapes me.Being a published writer myself,I would never employ question marks in that fashion.Would you care to explain this most unusual use of them?

  6. JohnEngelman says:

    The dirty little secret of conservative talk radio is that the average age of listeners is 67 and rising, according to [Jon Sinton, founding president of Air America] — the Fox News audience, likewise, is in its mid-60s: “What sort of continuing power do you have as your audience strokes out?”

    The date on this is 2009, so I imagine the average age for supporters of FOX News and Hate Radio has gotten older. A movement of grumpy, grouchy old white men will not change the country. They cannot stand in the way of progressive change much longer.

    • Mark Forsyth says:

      Sorry John,but my experience with supporters,listeners,and viewers of Fox,posting comments here on the Memo or on Yahoo and Facebook,reveals a decidedly younger audience.I don’t doubt that there are older fans as well but don’t count on the death of Fox just because its older fans bite the dust.

    • 4sanity4all says:

      I am an old white geezer, and I am as liberal and progressive as they come. Haters come in all ages, and even various colors, in my experience.

      • JohnEngelman says:

        I am surprised that more of these people were not effected by the War in Vietnam. Anyone with a triple digit IQ could tell that that war was immoral and tragically futile.

  7. DBH316 says:

    Thank you for answering one of the great questions of the day. I never knew if Fox News spit or swallowed, but I had a hunch. Now I know.

  8. kfreed says:

    Recently purchased the book and consider it a MUST READ, particularly for those who consider themselves journalists:

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