News item: Roger Ailes, founder and CEO of Fox News (until recently losing his job when his habit of sexually harassing his employees finally caught up with him), died. He was 77.
We have observed the necessary moment of silence. Now let us remember ex-Fox News head Roger Ailes for who he truly was: a man who did more damage to American democracy than any other individual in the nation. A man who transformed news into a propaganda effort, a man who transformed conspiracies and paranoia into a new conservative ideology, a man who dedicated the entirety of the apparatus he oversaw to lying to Americans in very specific, calculated ways. He was a bad person. He did great harm, and he died too late to do anyone any good.
Ailes was a monster who was pushed out of the network he founded because dozens of women who had worked for him came forward and reported that he had sexually harassed them. And the legacy he leaves behind is a propaganda machine he created in his own image that has done incalculable damage to the country, slanting facts and information — and sometimes completely inventing them — in service of a vicious, right-wing agenda.
In Fox News, Ailes found a way to exacerbate and monetize the conservative movement’s paranoid opposition to the “liberal media,” turning millions of Americans into devoted followers who were inculcated to trust no other source of information. Mainstream outlets soon internalized his critique, forced by constant accusations of bias to elevate hackish conservative commentators and provide false balance.
Ailes saw political opponents as enemies and created a network that demanded the same behavior of conservative politicians. Fox brought political vitriol to a new level. Chasing the approval of Fox’s hosts and its audience, Republican politicians became ever more partisan and intransigent, making congressional bipartisanship and even collegiality a thing of the past.
Conspiracy theories, bigotry, paranoia, more conspiracy theories, a culture of misogyny run rampant; the Ailes legacy is malevolence, and fear, and contempt. You could not name any American in the modern era who has harmed his nation more. His life will be his legacy, and his life was rotten to the core.
–Hunter, Daily Kos (with contributions from Media Matters For America)