In a frank and unsettling feature about Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, Rolling Stone reveals that advertisers paid Fox News $413 million last year, helping to build the biggest propaganda machine since World War II.
The feature, tellingly titled “How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory,” revealed that the Fox News Channel made a staggering $826 million last year, out of which $413 million came from advertisers (the other half from cable fees).
Fox News revenues make up more than one-fifth of parent company News Corp.’s total annual profit. One-fifth! It’s no wonder that Fox News continues their hate and fear-mongering: It’s insanely profitable.
Rolling Stone lays out, in glorious detail, the method and the madness of 71-year old Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, the Vision behind the ratings behemoth. Known simply as “the Chairman,” Ailes rules with a tight fist and expansive ego. “He is Fox News,” says Jane Hall, who left Fox in protest of Ailes’ support of divisive Glenn Beck. “It’s his vision. It’s a reflection of him.”
CEO of News Corp, billionaire, Rupert Murdoch is afraid of Roger Ailes:
“Murdoch has almost no involvement with it at all,” says Michael Wolff, who spent nine months embedded at News Corp. researching a biography of the Australian media giant. “People are afraid of Roger. Murdoch is, himself, afraid of Roger. He has amassed enormous power within the company – and within the country – from the success of Fox News.”
Conservative Rupert Murdoch even thinks Ailes is extreme in his fear-mongering:
Fear, in fact, is precisely what Ailes is selling: His network has relentlessly hyped phantom menaces like the planned “terror mosque” near Ground Zero, inspiring Florida pastor Terry Jones to torch the Koran. Privately, Murdoch is as impressed by Ailes’ business savvy as he is dismissive of his extremist politics. “You know Roger is crazy,” Murdoch recently told a colleague, shaking his head in disbelief. “He really believes that stuff.”
Roger Ailes installed bomb-proof glass in his second floor office at 1211 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan, out of fear that gay rights activists would try to assassinate him:
The location made Ailes queasy: It was close to the street, and he lived in fear that gay activists would try to attack him in retaliation over his hostility to gay rights…“They’ll be down there protesting,” Ailes said. “Those gays.”
Yup, he’s nutty:
Ailes is also deeply paranoid. Convinced that he has personally been targeted by Al Qaeda for assassination, he surrounds himself with an aggressive security detail and is licensed to carry a concealed handgun.
Ailes has been an illustrious Republican operative, responsible for Nixon, Reagan, and Bush (George H.W. edition), as well as a campaign for Big Tobacco:
To watch even a day of Fox News – the anger, the bombast, the virulent paranoid streak, the unending appeals to white resentment, the reporting that’s held to the same standard of evidence as a late-October attack ad – is to see a refraction of its founder, one of the most skilled and fearsome operatives in the history of the Republican Party
Ailes is a propaganda master:
“I know certain techniques, such as a press release that looks like a newscast,” he told The Washington Post in 1972. “So you use it because you want your man to win.”
Rush Limbaugh is a friend and advocate:
Take it from Rush Limbaugh, a “dear friend” of Ailes. “One man has established a culture for 1,700 people who believe in it, who follow it, who execute it,” Limbaugh once declared. “Roger Ailes is not on the air. Roger Ailes does not ever show up on camera. And yet everybody who does is a reflection of him.”
Fox News is a Republican propaganda machine:
The result is one of the most powerful political machines in American history. One that plays a leading role in defining Republican talking points and advancing the agenda of the far right. Fox News tilted the electoral balance to George W. Bush in 2000, prematurely declaring him president in a move that prompted every other network to follow suit.
It helped create the Tea Party, transforming it from the butt of late-night jokes into a nationwide insurgency capable of electing U.S. senators. Fox News turbocharged the Republican takeover of the House last fall, and even helped elect former Fox News host John Kasich as the union-busting governor of Ohio – with the help of $1.26 million in campaign contributions from News Corp.
And by incubating a host of potential GOP contenders on the Fox News payroll– including Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum – Ailes seems determined to add a fifth presidential notch to his belt in 2012. “Everything Roger wanted to do when he started out in politics, he’s now doing 24/7 with his network,” says a former News Corp. executive. “It’s come full circle.”
Fox News viewers are the least informed of all:
The result of this concerted campaign of disinformation is a viewership that knows almost nothing about what’s going on in the world. According to recent polls, Fox News viewers are the most misinformed of all news consumers. They are 12 percentage points more likely to believe the stimulus package caused job losses, 17 points more likely to believe Muslims want to establish Shariah law in America, 30 points more likely to say that scientists dispute global warming, and 31 points more likely to doubt President Obama’s citizenship. In fact, a study by the University of Maryland reveals, ignorance of Fox viewers actually increases the longer they watch the network.
Reading this in-depth article makes us increasingly skeptical about any argument that Fox News is “fair” or “balanced,” or that it is a non-partisan, non-Republican entity. Roger Ailes has built himself the most powerful propaganda machine the world has seen since Word War II – and he’s going to continue to stoke the fire as long as the money comes pouring in.