Former Fox News chief Roger Ailes died yesterday morning, less than a year after being ousted from the cable news juggernaut he founded, following an internal investigation over numerous sexual harassment claims.
While most celebrate the life of a complicated man who built a media empire that millions trust for daily news and opinion, some took the opportunity to demonstrate just how hateful, partisan, unprofessional and classless so many journalists, and I use that term loosely, have become.
Their vitriol doesn’t appear to be aimed solely at a dead man’s life and legacy, but also at the company he built, the thousands of employees who work there, and the entire audience of Fox News and Fox Business. I simply cannot abide that.
The irony is, their views are so narrow-minded, their vision so skewed, and their minds so clouded with hatred and jealousy, they can’t even see that their own behavior is more vile than that which they attribute to Ailes, Fox News and its audience, even if their commentary were fair and true.
Ailes may have had issues, but as a wise man once said, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” Apparently, these journalists see themselves as flawless individuals who are higher-minded and better than the rest of us.
Politico’s Virginia Heffernan tweeted, “Whatever your thoughts about him, Roger Ailes deserves credit for dying.”
In Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi called Ailes a “monster” and a “con artist” who “is on the short list of people most responsible for modern America’s vicious and bloodthirsty character. We are a hate-filled, paranoid, untrusting, book-dumb and bilious people whose chief source of recreation is slinging insults and threats at each other online, and we’re that way in large part because of the hyper-divisive media environment he discovered.”
After David Corn of Mother Jones tweeted, “Big dilemma: what to say about a sex criminal who influenced a generation of conservatives and changed the media landscape?” Ashley Feinberg of Gizmodo replied, “that we’re all worse off for him having ever lived a day.”
MSNBC political analyst Joy-Ann Reid wrote, “Ailes built an empire by creating a fantasy world for white, conservative men, where women are agreeable sex objects and POC (people of color) are predators.”
According to Slate’s Christina Cauterucci, “history will remember Ailes not as a brilliant manipulator of mistruths, but as a sad, insecure predator who built a business on the subjugation of women’s bodies.”
In “I’m sorry to Report That Roger Ailes Ever Lived,” Deadspin’s Albert Burneko wrote:
“The only thing that needs to be written about Roger Ailes for all the rest of eternity is that he was as vile an abomination as has ever slipped from a human orifice, that the success and power he attained in life are as damning an indictment as you can read against the fiber of American society, and that the entire world is worse off for him ever having lived in it. Everything he was and did was awful and worthless. Bury him under an outhouse.”
And David Mastio, deputy editorial page editor of USA Today, said that Ailes reshaped America’s partisan landscape:
“He built a network where the regular American working man was the good guy and all the smarty-pants and do-gooders of the world were the bad guys. Fox News commentators and reporters alike targeted their tribe and told it the stories it wanted to hear. The audience cheered and came back for more.”
Here’s the thing. Nobody in the media gets to claim the moral high-ground while viciously vilifying a man who, while he had his flaws, and who doesn’t, built a media institution that employs thousands and is respected by millions. And their mischaracterizations of the employees and audience of Fox News, which includes Fox Business, are, in my view, deeply flawed.
These commentators disgust me. I think they are a disgrace to journalism, the media industry and American business. Most disturbing, they represent a festering rot that’s spreading across our culture. Granted, they are entitled to their views, but as members of the media with the power of the press, I, for one, reject their malicious methods.
Image credit: Screen shot from MSNBC