Skip to main content

I’ve long been fascinated by the kind of mental blinders we get saddled with, or we saddle ourselves with, as we go through life.  It always has seemed to me that one of the greatest difficulties we humans have with accurately understanding the World around us is that by the time we start actively contemplating that World we already and subconsciously have filtered it into various mental constructs that inform our understanding of it.  And those unconscious constructs are not necessarily accurate.

One of the biggest such unconscious filters is the implicit assumption that most people understand the World and their relationship to it the same way we each do.  We have a strong tendency, whenever we meet somebody new or we abstractly contemplate what “the people” think, to believe that a new person or “the people” think pretty much along the same lines that we ourselves do.

Very probably, at least some of this results from the fact that “[w]e are cursed by the limits of our own perception to see ourselves as the center of the Universe.”  It is simply impossible for us to understand our unique experience of the World other than with ourselves at the center of it because that is how we are forced to perceive it.  This is what is meant by the lament that it is impossible to really place yourself in the position of anyone else.  If you try hard you might be able to imagine what somebody else is experiencing or thinking, but you can’t really know.  

Then there is that cliched phrase “the fish will be the last to discover water.”  This is generally true for each of us.  Immersed as we are in the necessarily singular and exclusive point of view we each are saddled with, we assume that of course everybody experiences the World the same way we do, and forget that in fact nobody experiences the World precisely same way each of us do.

I was reminded of that this morning, while reading Tim Dickinson’s excellent Rolling Stone article “How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory,”  and these facts jumped out at me:

The network’s viewers are old, with a median age of 65 . . . .  The audience is also almost exclusively white – only 1.38 percent of viewers are African-American.  “Roger understands audiences,” says [Ed] Rollins, the former Reagan consultant.  “He knew how to target, which is what Fox News is all about.”  The typical viewer of Hannity, to take the most stark example, is a pro-business (86 percent), Christian conservative (78 percent), Tea Party-backer (75 percent) with no college degree (66 percent), who is over 50 (65 percent), supports the NRA (73 percent), doesn’t back gay rights (78 percent) and thinks government “does too much” (84 percent).  “He’s got a niche audience and he’s programmed to it beautifully,” says a former News Corp. colleague.  “He feeds them exactly what they want to hear.”

Which is, y’know, great for Fox News as a business concern.  As Dickinson’s article makes clear, Fox News is the profit center of Rupert Murdoch’s empire; Ailes clearly saw a niche audience that wasn’t being served and appropriated it for himself.  Demographically it may not be the largest audience or the most coveted (18 – 34 year old men are, I believe), but Ailes is indeed adept at “feed[ing] them exactly what they want to hear.”  This has made Fox News bigger than MSNBC and CNN combined and grants Ailes huge power and influence within the Republican Party.

Indeed, in his recent New York Magazine article “The Elephant in the Green Room” Gabriel Sherman recognized Ailes as the de facto “head of the Republican Party” and quoted a GOP operative who told him:  “You can’t run for the Republican nomination without talking to Roger.  Every single candidate has consulted with Roger.”  

According to both Dickinson and Sherman’s pieces, wielding political influence is the driving force in Ailes’s life.  According to both pieces, Ailes is believed to have consulted with George W. Bush virtually every day of his presidency, coaching him in presentation and talking points; even if Dick Cheney may have been the person deciding policy in W.’s White House, Ailes and Fox News were the people who helped the White House sell it.

And according to both pieces, Ailes continues to look to the future.  Everyone interviewed in these articles agrees that it was Fox News that turned the Tea Party from a national joke into a political force.  And the main focus of Sherman’s article is that Ailes’s greatest desire this election cycle is to unseat President Obama and install a candidate in the White House of his own personal choosing.

* * *

Which is why I was heartened to see those demographics above and discover that while it may be true (as many acknowledge) that Ailes is a “genius” when it comes to programming and ratings, he seems to be a dismal failure when it comes to fashioning a political movement that can have any long-term effectiveness.

After all, the drumbeat repeated over and over for decades now about American demographics is that they are fundamentally and irrevocably changing, and that the country is getting less and less white.  And yet, to whom does Fox News pander?  Almost exclusively White America.

And for anybody who has been paying attention to the fight for gay rights over the past decade or so, the shift in public attitude has been (relatively speaking) lightning swift.  The most recent polls show that a majority of all Americans (albeit still a slight majority) now fully support gay marriage or, at least, civil unions.  Matthew Yglesias recently weighed in on Miley Cyrus’s outspoken support for gay marriage and pointed out

Celebrities risk alienating fans if they wade into partisan politics.  But Cyrus knows perfectly well that among her core audience of young people, combating anti-gay bigotry isn’t a divisive issue.  For younger Americans, it’s just common sense.  Whether or not her fans are able to vote in the 2012 election, they’ll be voting in 2014 or 2016 or 2018 and so forth for decades.

And yet, to whom does Fox News pander?  The anti-gay rights crowd.

And this is almost assuredly because – hey, that anti-gay rights crowd? – they’re old.  They’re the anti-Miley Cyrus group.  The median age of the Fox News audience is 65 – this means that 50% of everybody who watches Fox New is 65 or older.  And one thing we can say for certain about this audience:  unlike the Miley Cyrus fans, they will not be voting in elections for decades to come.

In short, the audience to whom Ailes pitches Fox News’s programming is not an audience that can be counted upon to sustain a long-term political movement.  Sure, it may have some outsized clout now because, let’s face it, old people vote.  But not to put too fine a point on it, old people die too.  Unless Ailes can figure out some way to bring newer, younger people into the Fox News audience (without, at the same time, alienating the core group of senior citizens who provide its bread-and-butter), Fox News’s days of being able to direct the Republican party, gin up support for its policies, and function as its de facto kingmaker are necessarily numbered.

* * *

Given the Fox News demographics, this would seem to be blatantly obvious.  So why, given Roger Ailes’s supposed intelligence and his consuming drive to shape American politics to his liking, has he consigned Fox News to what must unavoidably become an ever shrinking sphere of influence?  Why hasn’t Ailes acted to expand his audience beyond this core Conservative group?

The easiest and most straightforward answer is that Fox News simply got trapped by the market it thought it had captured for itself.  As Ed Rollins said, Ailes knew a market existed for Conservative ideology and he went after it very successfully.  This resulted in almost instant and never-before-seen levels of cable news commercial success.  When an action proves to have been very successful, an obvious response to that success is to repeat the same action.  

And 15 years ago when Fox News was founded, tapping into the Conservative backlash against Bill Clinton and feeding upon the paranoid sense of victimization Rush Limbaugh slurped up, targeting this niche audience must have seemed like a no-brainer.  Besides, even if the audience Fox News captured originally is exactly the same audience it is saddled with today, the median age then would have been only 50; that would have given Fox News at least 20 years to diversify and bring in younger audience members, and 20 years is a long time to make that much profit.

But as we have seen over the years, the Conservative mind is one that demands ever and ever greater ideological purity.  (How many litmus tests are we up to now for Republican presidential candidates?  They can’t raise taxes, they can’t believe in evolution, they can’t support a woman’s right to choose, they can’t believe in global warming, they can’t doubt Paul Ryan’s “budget plan,” they can’t be anything other than Christian, they can’t support equal rights for gays, they must be willing to support Israel unthinkingly, they must be reflexively anti-Muslim, they must be willing to slash Medicare, they must be willing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they must be willing to re-instate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” they must be willing to invade Iran unprovoked, they must be pro-Torture, they must at least have some doubts about whether Obama was born in the United States . . . .  I am sure I am missing some, but these are the ones that came to me just off the top of my head.)

Insisting on this level of “purity” makes it very difficult to expand your audience without alienating existing viewers.  So it is possible that Fox News is simply the victim of its own success:  trapped with a lucrative but finite client base, and without the ability to diversify its appeal.

And, I suppose, there is probably something to that.  But in reading Dickinson’s article, I came to also wonder whether solipsism might be playing a large part in dooming Fox News’s (and, therefore, the GOP’s) long-term viability.  In fact, I came up with at least three reasons to think why that might be the case.

* * *

First, it appears that Ailes’s paranoid political views are genuinely held.  This scene from Sherman’s article is instructive:

Going back to the 2008 campaign, [David] Axelrod had maintained an off-the-record dialogue with Ailes.  He had faced off against Ailes in a U.S. Senate campaign in the early eighties and respected him as a fellow political warrior and shaper of narrative.  But early on, Axelrod learned he could’t change Ailes’s outlook on Obama.  In one meeting in 2008, Ailes told Axelrod that he was concerned that Obama wanted to create a national police force.

“You can’t be serious,” Axelrod replied.  “What makes you think that?”

Ailes responded by e-mailing Axelrod a YouTube clip from a campaign speech Obama had given on national service, in which he called for the creation of a new civilian corps to work alongside the military on projects overseas.

Later, Axelrod related in a conversation that the exchange was the moment he realized Ailes truly believed what he was broadcasting.

If Ailes truly does see the World this way, it is easy to believe that he also thinks everybody else either sees the World this way or should see the World this way.

Ailes’s paranoia reflects itself not only in his politics but in his own concerns about his personal safety.  Dickinson paints a vivid picture of a man who surrounds himself with security guards, has “bomb-proof” plexiglass windows in his “blast-resistant office,” who purchased and keeps empty the houses surrounding his own home in order to “create a wider security perimeter,” who is convinced that he personally is on al Queda’s hit list, and who once locked down Fox News when he spotted (on a monitor) a janitor in what looked to Ailes to be “Muslim garb” because Ailes thought the janitor could be coming to bomb him.

But again, if Ailes truly sees the World through this lens then it only makes sense he thinks everybody else does or should see it this way too.  So it shouldn’t be surprising that this is the view of the World presented by Fox News.  Indeed, after recounting the episode involving the Fox News janitor Dickinson quotes from someone close to Ailes:  “Roger tore up the whole floor.  He has a personal paranoia about people who are Muslim – which is consistent with the ideology of his network.” (emphasis added)

As both Dickinson and Sherman make clear, Fox News is Roger Ailes’s personal fiefdom, and it reflects exactly what Roger Ailes thinks.  Because Roger Ailes sees fantastic conspiracies and mortal danger everywhere, this is what Fox News reports.  

Second, I have no difficultly in imagining that Ailes also truly believes that his success in audience capture is just further evidence that his World View is correct.  Obviously, what he is selling is hitting a nerve with a lot of people; I am sure that Ailes thinks that if a lot of people agree with him, he must be right!

But, you know what?  Take a look at the demographics listed above, and then take a look at Roger Ailes.  He is 71 years old, and white.  As for being an NRA supporter, well, he does carry a concealed firearm.  He does have a college degree and I don’t know about his religious background, but he is definitely a Tea Party-backer and, judging from Fox News, anti-gay rights.  In short, Roger Ailes is a member of the same demographic that Fox News targets.  Roger Ailes is broadcasting to Roger Ailes!

Given this, I don’t have much difficulty imagining that the people Fox News has managed to capture are the people that Roger Ailes believes are the “Real Americans” – you know, the ones who look most like Roger Ailes.  Conservative politicians, most notably Sarah Palin, invoke this phrase all the time and they always invoke it when referring to the Fox News crowd:  the White, Conservative Christians.

This is a particularly pernicious idea both for its effect on the people listening to it and on the speaker himself.  For the audience, it sows the seeds of division:  “If I am a Real American, then it follows that the Other Person is not!”  For the speaker, it sows the seeds of dismissiveness:  “If those Other People are not Real Americans, then I don’t have to bother with them!”

I think this goes a long way toward explaining how Ailes can disregard the fact Fox News is broadcasting to an audience that can only grow smaller over time.  If the people outside of that audience aren’t “Real Americans” then they are unimportant and can be dismissed.  That conclusion is wrong, of course, but it fits in well with Ailes’s paranoia about Muslims and “others” and it allows him not to face up to the truth that unless Fox News’s audience fundamentally changes the Fox News juggernaut will eventually grind to a halt.

Third, it seems clear that Fox News is nothing more or less than an extension of Roger Ailes.  As Sherman describes it, “In the halls of Fox News, people do not want to be caught talking about what will happen to Fox News after the Ailes era.  The network continues to be Ailes’s singular vision, and he’s so far declined to name a successor. . . .  [M]ore than one person described fearing Lord of the Flies—type chaos in the wake of Ailes’s departure, so firm has his grip on power been.”  Both Dickinson and Sherman spend time describing the increasing antipathy between Ailes and the Murdoch family.

Ailes’s reluctance to name a successor to his throne may be just another manifestation of what increasingly looks like an effort to create a mirror-world for himself.  As personal as the creation and operation of Fox News appears to have been, perhaps Ailes simply cannot imagine it continuing without him.  And who knows, since Ailes is part of the demographic to whom Fox News broadcasts, perhaps on some deep level Ailes isn’t overly concerned with what happens to Fox News when that demographic passes away.  After all, Ailes will be gone too.

* * *

Despite the title of this post, neither Fox News nor the Republican Party will ever completely go away.  But the Fox News demographics skew heavily to elderly white Americans viewers, just as the exit polls show Republican candidates skewing heavily to elderly white Americans voters.  And “elderly, white” is by definition an ever-shrinking constituency.  Both Fox News and the Republican Party will eventually have to change their policies and capture viewers/voters who aren’t exclusively white and elderly.  And no doubt but that both, eventually, will.

But the problem for the Republican Party is that Fox News’s power to promote policies and candidates has in many ways eclipsed that of the politics and politicians it supposedly “covers.”  When you can’t run for the Republican nomination without Fox News’s imprimatur, then Fox News effectively is calling the shots.

Which means that before the Republican Party can change and seek a new – or at least a larger – voter base, Fox News is going to have to change and seek a new – or at least a larger -- audience.  Fox News cannot promote candidates and policies its audience won’t like and also maintain its ratings, and Republicans cannot sell their candidates and policies without Fox News.  But since there is every reason to believe that Roger Ailes’s penchant for programming Roger Ailes’s vision to Roger Ailes has resulted in Fox News being captured by its own audience, I don’t see that Fox News has the ability to change gears very rapidly.

Which means that for the foreseeable near future – say the next 10 or 15 years – one of two things will happen.  New management at Fox News might eventually realize its current programming is unsustainable and attempt to change it; this will likely result in decreased market share for Fox News over the short-term and will almost certainly involve it walking back from the craziest of the crazy, fringiest of the fringe right-wing faction now in American politics in order to make itself more appealing to other groups.

But much more likely is that Fox News will continue following the path of least resistance and greatest momentum, and become increasingly shrill as it attempts to shore up its hold on an ever-shrinking demographic.  This will drive Republicans even deeper into political paranoia and hubris and will increasingly alienate the burgeoning mass of non-elderly, non-white Americans going to the polls.  And this will result in huge electoral losses.

Of course, we’ll still have the Crazy 27% (like the poor, we will have them always with us) and they will still elect some truly batshit insane people, but overall I think we might be able to look forward to a nice long decline for these people.  

What can I say?  The more I learn about Roger Ailes and Fox News, the more optimistic I feel.

Cross-posted at Casa Cognito.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  It has nothing to do with solipsism (5+ / 0-)

    It's just that nothing exists or matters to Ailes but Ailes.

    "If you think you can or you think you can't, you are right"

    by White House Shill on Mon May 30, 2011 at 04:25:26 PM PDT

  •  I told a die hard conservative (16+ / 0-)

    that Fox News is "CET". Conservative Entertainment Network. They are an insular cultural identity group, and Fox News is targeted to them. It is NOT a news channel. Fox News is to conservatives what BET is to African Americans, MTV is to youth, Logo is to LGBs, etc.

    And the funny thing is he didn't dispute it at all.

  •  The problem is Fox & GOP are strangling each other (8+ / 0-)

    Because of the strict "discipline" demanded of the Repugs, there can be no disagreement (see the adherence to the Ryan plan) in todays GOP and therefore with Fox.  The two are so intertwined that all that "agreement" leaves no breathing room, even Frum figured it out when he said; "we thought they worked for us and it was the other way around".

    Thus, it takes only one major blunder i.e. the Ryan Plan, and the entire enterprise goes down with it, uniformity is expected so everyone is afraid to say "that emperor is naked"

    "How can the United States be the Greatest Nation ever if its the only modern nation where citizens hold bake sales to pay for life saving medical care?" Single payer is coming but how many people will die before it becomes the only solution?

    by 4CasandChlo on Mon May 30, 2011 at 04:28:55 PM PDT

  •  What will hapen to Fox News... (10+ / 0-)

    ...after Ailes? It will go the way of the Dumont Network, vanishing into history. And Ailes doesn't care, as he'll have his, or, assuming he dies "in the saddle", he figures the world will end at that point.

    And it will, eventually, for Roger Ailes.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Mon May 30, 2011 at 04:30:06 PM PDT

    •  We'd probably have to wait (7+ / 0-)

      till after Murdoch for that -- reports are that the kids are nowhere near as doctrinarian as Dear Old Dad, so if one of them takes over we could see a subtle shift leftward. Sure, it won't ever be a progressive haven, but I'd settle for even a slightly left of moderate mindset, or even just a true "straight news" format with no bullshit commentary.

      Now to try to end the wars we ask our gay and straight soldiers to fight. -- Chris Hayes

      by Cali Scribe on Mon May 30, 2011 at 04:41:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  More than likely... (7+ / 0-)

        ...they may sell off parts of the Murdoch Empire for quick cash.

        Maybe that's how Glenn Beck will get his pay-per-view network.

        Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

        by JeffW on Mon May 30, 2011 at 04:50:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That's interesting to know (0+ / 0-)

        but I would point out that (in my experience at least) companies often have an in house mythology that things will someday be better when the boss finally either passes away or truly retires because the expected successors are rumored to be "better".  Not saying it isn't true in this case, but just that such thinking is understandably common with those unhappy with their corporate overlord.

    •  how to make Ailes implode spectacularly: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, Gary Norton, Calamity Jean

      He's obviously clinically paranoid.  Buying all the houses around his for a "security perimeter" is enough to add up to the diagnosis.  

      Therefore stoke his paranoia and make it worse.

      For example stage conspiratorial-looking gatherings of people "dressed in Muslim garb" right outside Fox Noize HQ.  Four to six people each time, at a specific time each day:  two days in a row, then nothing for two more days, then one day, then nothing for a week, then two more days in a row, etc.  

      He'll see this on his monitors and lock down the building as he did when he saw one janitor "in Muslim garb."

      For example, send in the black helicopters:

      RC (radio-controlled) model helicopters with their body shells spraypainted flat black.  Fly them around Fox HQ.  Fly them around his house.  

      For added fun & games, have them equipped with a couple of red & blue blinking LEDs, the better to attract his attention.  

      These can be bought for as little as $20 - $50, so they're practically disposable.  

      For $300 you can get one with a built-in video camera, that works with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch:       With that, you can fly close-up missions around his house without crashing into anything.  

      But even a handful of cheapies are enough to stir up the black helicopter paranoia, particularly if they fly into his windows like birds and he goes out and finds them on his lawn.  After the second "black helicopter attack" he'll have to buy up the whole neighborhood as his security perimeter!

      Best of all, with enough black helicopters following him around, he'll start babbling about black helicopters!  Yes, just like every other paranoid lunatic on the street!

      Now if you want to get really devious, have your black helicopters fitted with a pod designed to dump bird seed on the ground.  Dump the bird seed on his lawn.  This will attract birds and squirrels.  Ailes will start to notice more birds and squirrels around his house and think they are being used as part of an attack on him, per the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds.

      Use your imagination, have fun, and remember: no violence, and nothing more illegal than a sit-in.  

      Brought to you by the Department of Gray Ops!

      •  So tempting... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean

        Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

        by Wee Mama on Mon May 30, 2011 at 07:30:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  do it! think of flying one... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Calamity Jean

          ... right into Fox's lobby!  Right through the front door.  

          Or think of all the merry mischief you can make with a bag of 100 blue marbles for $2.99:

          The trick is to heave the marbles inside so they go all over the carpet.  Or if that's too much trouble, just sprinkle them around the perimeter of the building.  For that matter, sprinkle bird seed around the perimeter of the building and especially near the doors and garage entrance.  This will attract more birds, and birds are scary.  

          When dealing with paranoiacs, the thing to keep in mind is: anything out of the ordinary will stir up their paranoia and make it worse, especially if the event or stimulus is repeated a few times in a quasi-random way that appears to suggest a pattern.  

          Black RC helicopters, marbles, birds, abandoned shopping bags stuffed with crumpled-up newspaper or packing peanuts, a guy who appears at random and sweeps the sidewalk with a broom and then leaves, a string of people who appear to have nothing in common except that each one stops and asks the first person they encounter at the Fox HQ how to find a certain restaurant... all of this becomes grist for the paranoia mill.  

          Eventually Ailes goes stark staring bonkers and starts ranting about being followed, persecuted, harassed, threatened with birds and marbles, followed by black helicopters, staked-out by suspicious people...

          Eventually one of his friends asks him if he's alright, and that makes him think his friends are part of the conspiracy, so he pushes them away...

          Meanwhile all of this is further reinforced by Hallmark cards with appropriate pictures, that are being sent to his office with faked return addresses...

          Start now and you can reduce him to a quivering blob of fear and suspicion by this time next year!

  •  Thanks for the great word "solipsism"! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    msmacgyver, bythesea, Gemina13

    It dooms more than just GOP.

  •  I have to disagree with you here: (13+ / 0-)
    Despite the title of this post, neither Fox News nor the Republican Party will ever completely go away.

    A party cannot be sustained only by its base.  The GOP has become so exclusionary that they are now vigorously shutting out huge sections of the populace, and their infantile insistence on doing things their way or the highway has already seriously damaged their chances of hanging on to power in 2012.

    Plus, they've got to start fielding Presidential candidates who are serious, actual candidates.  Not one of the clowns they're putting up has a chance of winning.

    Finally, political parties do die.  I have even diaried here my theory that the next 20 years will see the GOP purge themselves into irrelevance and leave a power vacuum to the LEFT of the Democratic Party.  There has never been quite such a toxic force in politics as Fox News and today's GOP.  You said it yourself -- they are litmus-testing themselves so far out of the mainstream, and totally ignoring or actively assaulting the emerging demographic majorities in this country that they are literally painting themselves into a very very small corner.  They may not be able to emerge from that corner, the way these nut-job right-wing whacko extremists think.

    And Fox News also, being led by the iron fist of Roger Ailes, will probably not long survive his passing.   I really do think this next election cycle is going to be a watershed moment in our political history.  The Right has gone way too far.  They can't call back what they've done.


    by slippytoad on Mon May 30, 2011 at 04:45:23 PM PDT

    •  Assumes We Remain a Democracy. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RockyMtnLib, mrsgoo

      A federal judge just ruled that direct corporate contributions to campaigns cannot be barred. Political spending quadrupled last election, as I recall the reports, the entire new 300% being corporate issue advertising that could in principle all be allowed as direct campaign contributions.

      Never mind the security and domestic intel powers evolving, this issue alone could drive the final nail into government's practical ability to impose on the economy and the rich. And without policies as radical as those of the Democratic Party once upon a time, the existence of the Republican party doesn't matter.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon May 30, 2011 at 05:09:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think that is a huge stretch, honestly (0+ / 0-)

        The right-wing frames that have been driving our national conversation are breaking down all over the place.  The assault on Medicare and working Americans has changed the tone of the conversation.  

        Regardless of what federal judges rule, the rules of elections will be changing because we the people will ever more stridently demand that they do.  I do not think we are anywhere near the cusp of fascism.

        Just in case you forgot today: REPUBLICANS VOTED TO END MEDICARE. AND THEY'LL DO IT AGAIN.

        by slippytoad on Tue May 31, 2011 at 07:55:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Fox News dance channel (3+ / 0-)

    designed to snare the under-30s is apparently pitiful, a joke. I also noted that "grassroots" Tea Party revolts in Wisconsin during the demonstrations against Republican over-reach in that state were frankly laughable. With all that Koch bankroll, these poor folks just can't it together.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Mon May 30, 2011 at 05:24:29 PM PDT

  •  Here's the problem: (5+ / 0-)

    The OTHER networks follow the lead of Fox until the "Fox Truth" becomes the only truth.

    That way lies fascism.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Mon May 30, 2011 at 05:31:02 PM PDT

  •  The obvious point you are missing (7+ / 0-)

    is that while Ailes target audience will die, so will he. The demographic he is so good at targeting and fashioning a party for and around is his own demographic. He's only interested in maintaining the power of the GOP as long as he is around.

    I doubt he cares much about future elections.  He certainly doesn't care about the future of the planet, or the nation, or the economy.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Mon May 30, 2011 at 05:33:26 PM PDT

    •  deeper and deeper still... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bythesea, jan4insight

      He's only interested in maintaining power for himself, as an attempt to assuage his chronic paranoia.

      It's all about Ailes the Coward, the frightened little man with the moat of houses around his house, projecting his own paranoia into a desire for power at all costs.  

  •  The future (4+ / 0-)

    Ailes and Fox News look to the future like most businesses only more so.  Companies make decisions based on the next quarterly report.  In television there are weekly or daily ratings which drive decisions.  
    Real news organizations cover real news even if they sometimes take a ratings hit.  Fox is a business not a news organization, so they will never voluntarily leave money on the table looking to a more prosperous future.
     Never mind journalistic ethics.

    •  FOX is more than a mere business. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bythesea, Ezekial 23 20

      It's Rupert Murdoch's lever to change the world.

      Murdoch could continue piling up money in any number of ways, but he chooses to rule a media empire because he can use it to project his vision on a gullible and content-hungry planet.

      If this weren't the case, he'd simply sit on a broad midden of investments marinating his body in champagne and drinking jacuzzis.

      "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

      by Bob Love on Mon May 30, 2011 at 06:49:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for posting this (4+ / 0-)

    .. the whole Murdoch / Ailes / Fox phenomenon is as morbidly fascinating reading as it has been lethal to our political discourse, practice, and results.

    I hope some of our resident Murdochologist Kossacks like KingOneEye , etc. weigh in here.

    See also some great long-form writing on Ailes by Tom Junod of Esquire earlier this year, if not already seen.

    "..The political class cannot solve the problems it created. " - Jay Rosen

    by New Rule on Mon May 30, 2011 at 05:52:50 PM PDT

  •  Maybe I'm wearing blinders or those famous (0+ / 0-)

    rose-colored glasses. As ugly as I agree Fox and the GOP are it is scarcely as if we hadn't seen their like in our history.

    "Journalism" was once an even more intensely (and blatantly) partisan endeavor. Smears and outright lies are not new tactics, either.

    Rather than pine for our opponents to moderate their whacked-out positions I think we should continue to lampoon them. Because they engage in such self-parody it gets difficult to generate satire which they won't endorse, but so be it.

    Any time they have to talk about anything other than tax cuts their support begins unraveling with their first word.

    Just as they have over estimated the support for their extreme positions others (like me) are already tempted to go the other direction as fast as we can. The American people like the functions we might use government to achieve, but nope, they don't want to pay for them. We all like a free lunch. This tidal seesawing may go on for as long as any of us live.

    Expecting the other side to self destruct, rather than just spending their season driving in the ditch, feels good--but it's the kind of delusion we goad them for. As swellsman says they will always be with us. It might be better, I think, to focus on the actual policies. The voters overwhelmingly support our priorities on many issues--that's why the R's always try to change the subject and get so worked up about personalities.

    With or without Fox news (not even any quotation marks, damn I'm proud of myself!), the voters really want to know what's in it for them and their families. I don't think most people would miss Roger Ailes network if it did fold; even for sick laughs I just can't take it.

    An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out? Rene Descartes

    by Had Enough Right Wing BS on Mon May 30, 2011 at 06:00:23 PM PDT

  •  You pinpointed the Fox demographic problem (4+ / 0-)

    but our losses are often attributable, at least in part, in underestimating them. We thought that the '08 election was going to make Republicans obsolete. They took an ass-kicking they haven't had in a long time and came back just two short years later stronger than ever.  Their overreach may not even be their undoing.

    The mask has come off and been thrown in the garbage. They're willing not just to pass draconian anti-choice laws, voter suppression laws, and other legislation designed to defund and disenfranchise their opposition, but they've shown they're willing to violate every rule regarding parliamentary procedure to do it, and find any loophole to make it happen. Nothing is beneath them. They've shown they will not hesitate to stoke resentment and foment violence to get their way. They're even willing to brazenly violate laws to do it - laws, that, if were enforced, can get the perpetrators some long, hard time. Add to that the Citizens United ruling and ALEC ghostwriting legislation in practically every state.

    I have enough optimism in me to think that they've shown way too much hubris for their own good, but I also will take nothing for granted.  And if, FSM forbid, they win the WH, hold onto the US House, and regain the Senate, the GWB administration will look like child's play. I'm fully convinced that if they win the next one, they will install a full-blown totalitarian dictatorship right here on American soil. If that makes me look paranoid, so be it. I'll cop to that.

    liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

    by RockyMtnLib on Mon May 30, 2011 at 06:11:14 PM PDT

  •  Nah, they'll replace FOX News with TMZ News (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bythesea, New Rule

    and skip a generation.

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Mon May 30, 2011 at 06:50:35 PM PDT

    •  You remind me of a related (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love

      point, and that is - what about "ethnic" conservatives like Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley, Marco Rubio, et al.  

      They may not be "old and white", but they sure are as right-wing as they come.

      And Fox News has not and will not hesitate to promote them if it came to it.  Same old retrograde stuff in a 21st century demographic wrapper.

      "..The political class cannot solve the problems it created. " - Jay Rosen

      by New Rule on Mon May 30, 2011 at 07:49:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  When did that happen? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Everyone interviewed in these articles agrees that it was Fox News that turned the Tea Party from a national joke into a political force.

    Last I looked, they were still a national joke.  Was it sometime today they miraculously morphed?

  •  Ailes has cornered the buggy-whip market. (0+ / 0-)

    That will serve him well.

  •  Your optimism may simply be the result (0+ / 0-)

    of feeling that you've figured something out. The brain likes to know what it knows.  That's what accounts for the persistence of prejudice.  New information is always at a disadvantage. Which is why repetition is necessary.

    That said, FOX is appropriately named for a creature recognized by humans as both intelligent and sly and deceptive.  The FOX News operation doesn't aim to provide factual information (as Al Jazeera does, for example), it aims to propagandize. BUT, as a component of a political agenda, that's only one part of a complex mission. If the target is the electorate, then there are two parts: those who are qualified to vote and vote and those who are qualified to vote and don't vote. And the mission towards those two groups is different.  The former have to be held constant, in place, conserved, and the latter have to be increased as the potential size of the electorate grows. How the latter is accomplished involves multiple scenarios including:

    whatever keeps the undesirables from going to the polls

    Ever since the passage of universal suffrage, it has been necessary to "shape" and "trim" the electorate.  If universal suffrage can't be reversed, the "great unwashed" have to be kept from participating. 2008 proved the agenda had failed and needed to be reversed by generating complacency and/or disgust in the enemy and revving up the base. That was accomplished with the promotion of irrational candidates which served to distract and disgust the electorate.

    Ever since the passage of universal suffrage, the major political parties have become increasingly irrelevant. The passage of open government legislation helped by making the actual behavior of public officials available to close scrutiny.  No longer was it necessary or feasible for political parties to vouch for the performance of public officials.  The public could see for themselves.  So, it became necessary to distract them with circus-like campaigns and entertainments.  Throwing in a few threats didn't hurt. It turns out many people will support people who threaten to hurt them but don't. It's what accounts, in large measure, for the Red state vote. It's what the attacks on Medicare are about. It's the core of what I call "triangulation"--energy directed at one target in order to influence the behavior of another. Triangulation is what terrorists, kidnappers and domestic abusers employ. Triangulation is effective because the source of the energy is disguised and, being disguised, difficult to retaliate against.  Triangulators are, basically, cowards.  Triangulators avoid direct confrontation. That's why, in the political arena, they beat up on "weak candidates" to make Joe Sixpack vote right. Putting up a "ringer" like Christine Odonnell is not an exception; it's entirely consistent with the main objective, crowd manipulation.

    If political parties are on the way out, then why bother about their destruction?  If the grass roots start selecting their own candidates, as Democracy for America and the Tea Party did, then the parties are irrelevant, unless they come up with a new mission to serve the interests of the people, whom Ailes and his cohorts actively despise.  Ailes and the petty potentates he represents perceive the public as the enemy. The reason is simple.  If power resides with the people, then there's none for petty potentates to wield. That's why popular organizations, such as unions, have to be disrupted. Ditto for, hard as it might be to see, popular private commercial and industrial corporations such as General Motors.

    I think what we need to understand is that potential petty potentates don't care if political parties or any other power center are destroyed. Petty potentates are into power for themselves and, since to be felt, power has to hurt, petty potentates have to cause distress to some insignificant group, preferably one that won't be able to retaliate -- a task made easier by the deflective essence of triangulation.

    Things are not what they seem to be. However, if one presumes that the scheming is being undertaken by the instinct-driven, people who act in response to what used to be called the seven deadly sins, it all makes more sense -- i.e. becomes consistent.


    They're deadly because, while they may originally serve to preserve the self, in the long run and taken to extremes they are self-defeating.  But, in the long run, all men are dead.  So, the incentive to resist basic instincts is minimal. And probably becomes less so as the individual ages. There's a reason it's mostly old men that send young men off to die. As long as women are available to reproduce, they can always make more young men. That's why all young men, not just the troops, are fungible.  Of course, if women plan to reproduce, then young men are likely to be less fungible. Planned parenthood leads to a resistance to having the young killed off.

    You see, the conservative ideology is entirely consistent.  All that's required is to start from some preconceived notions--ideas.  That's why GWB can be referred to by his apologists as an "idealist." The idea is what's important. That's the central message of an ad sponsoring Rachell Maddow, of all people. An idea is what led to the discovery of natural gas deep underground. The idea is what makes man god-like.  "In the beginning was the Word."

    Satan, of course, is driven by envy of what God created and gets his jollies by destroying. "Creative destruction" is what Ailes and his cohorts are really engaged in. "We destroy; let's see you recreate that."

    by hannah on Tue May 31, 2011 at 03:41:52 AM PDT

    •  Addendum. (0+ / 0-)

      Perhaps the only thing that needs to be added is that power is the lode star of the impotent.  The ability to manipulate others compensates for an inability to exercise self-control, the defining characteristic of the instinct-driven--a characteristic  whose etiology may lie in the connection between cognitive brain and brain stem having been damaged or severed during what is typically referred to as a "difficult birth." Modern obstetric practices don't necessarily prevent perinatal injuries. Indeed, there's a hypothesis that the severance of the umbilical cord (before the lungs are clear of fluid) results in a short-term asphyxiation with long-term negative consequences.

      Cherchez la femme.

      by hannah on Tue May 31, 2011 at 04:25:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site