Getting to know Roger Ailes

GETTING TO KNOW ROGER AILES…. The NYT has an interesting profile on Roger Ailes, the Republican media professional who runs Fox News, and has turned the partisan propaganda outlet into an incredibly successful fake-news network. We learn, for example, that upon hearing rumors that Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post might endorse the Obama presidential campaign, Ailes threatened to quit. The Post backed McCain.

What’s more, in the wake of 9/11, Ailes became convinced that Fox News might become a terrorist target, and he continues to fear for his personal safety: “His movements now are shadowed by a phalanx of corporate-provided security. He travels to and from work in a miniature convoy of two sport utility vehicles. A camera on his desk displays the comings and goings outside his office, where he usually keeps the blinds drawn.”

Indeed, after the 9/11 attacks, Ailes personally sent a memo to George W. Bush “urging harsh action.”

If you’re thinking it’s odd for the head of a media outlet to give a sitting president suggestions about foreign policy and national security, we’re on the same page.

Rick Perlstein, author of “Nixonland,” sees a strong resemblance between Mr. Ailes’s political experience and his approach to television.

“Like Richard Nixon, like Spiro Agnew, Fox News can never see itself as the attacker,” he said. “They are always playing defense because they believe they are always under attack, which attracts people that have the same personality formation. By bringing that mind-set, plus the high energy seamless stream of the aggression of talk radio, he has found an audience.”

And what an audience it is: “Fox News is believed to make more money than CNN, MSNBC and the evening newscasts of NBC, ABC and CBS combined. The division is on track to achieve $700 million in operating profit this year, according to analyst estimates that Mr. Ailes does not dispute.”

Cornering the market — becoming the only national broadcast news outlet to serve as a mouthpiece for a political party, helping a blindly partisan audience create its own reality — can be incredibly lucrative.

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