How Fox Finds Its Pretty People

There’s a rather strange Mike Allen piece at Politico today about Fox News that opens with the scoop that Roger Ailes keeps his network all buffed up and on the cutting edge by holding “marathon critique” sessions where the brass watches its product for many hours on end. I shudder at the very thought, but then guess I’m not “fair and balanced.”

The closest thing to an actual insight into the Fox M.O. was offered by this snippet on Ailes’ talent recruitment habits:

In hotel rooms when he’s traveling, Ailes sometimes scouts talent by watching the local news with the sound off. “One of Roger’s ideas is you watch TV with the sound down,” [Fox VP Bill] Shine said. “If that screen or that person on that screen is so compelling that you want to put the sound up, that show or that person is doing something right.”

Even if you discount this tale as a gesture of sycophancy by a VP for his satanic majesty, it does ring somewhat true. Ailes’ focus on visuals might explain how and why so many Pretty People show up on Fox as newly minted “strategists” for one of the two political parties, apparently after making their analytical bones reporting the weather somewhere. Come to think of it, the Nicole Kidman character in To Die For would have been the ideal Fox election night spinner.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.