Monday, October 26, 2009

Fox News for President?

With so much being said on the left and the right about the hostility between Fox News and the White House, it is perhaps only natural that some on the right are pushing for Fox News architect and Fox Studios boss Roger Ailes to run for president. Nor would the notion of a corporate CEO heading up the GOP ticket be entirely at odds with the neoconservative movement's 'government of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations' philosophy of economics and policy.

Leaving Fox News, and Ailes himself, aside for the moment it is still an item of trivia emblematic of our times. This year has seen corporate entities collude to block major labor reform, judges plead guilty to criminal charges related to judicial misconduct on behalf of private prison corporations, and military contractors bring massive pressure to bear on legislators to prevent the government from ceasing to grant contracts to corporations that cover up incidences of alleged rape. These are just three incidents of the most egregious corporate encroachment upon the public sphere. It doesn't take the little things that happen every day into account. When corporations have a such a deeply entitled sense of their ownership of the United States of America, the idea that a corporate CEO should run for president as the standard bearer of the corporate party is almost obvious.

Then throw Fox News back into the picture. The network has a documented history of misrepresenting the news in order to beat a neoconservative political drum. They have been conducting a non-stop offensive against Barack Obama since before he was even the official Democratic nominee. It has only intensified since he was actually elected. Combine this with the culture of corporate entitlement choking the oxygen from the collective brain of the Republican Party and the neoconservative establishment and the notion that the CEO of Fox would be an obvious presidential candidate becomes even more obvious.

Finally, there is Ailes himself. Before going into the media business during the Clinton presidency, Ailes was a political gunslinger for the Republican Party. He worked the 1984 and 1988 election campaigns of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. So he is not stranger to Republican presidential politics.

Ailes is a logical 'anti-Obama' candidate. The conditions are as primed for such an outside-the-box nomination now as they were when Wendell Wilkie captured the Republican nomination to campaign on behalf of corporations against 'socialism' during the Depression and New Deal. Ailes might not have Wilkie's corporate baggage in the way a bank CEO might; Wilkie was immediately tagged by many Americans as the kind of 'practical' businessman who had let the crash of 1929 happen. Ailes, a professional political propagandist, is likely free of that taint.

Despite the tone of some of the sources for the Politico article linked in the first paragraph, I'm not so sure this is a done thing. Professional propagandists don't always like to take the stage and make targets of themselves. Fox has a laundry list of dishonesties and bad associations with which Ailes could be tagged and I'm not sure he wants to expose himself to that. It might be interesting to see him run, however, just to see whether any of the other potential nominees would be interested in taking Fox on in hopes of winning.

That is probably the reason Ailes won't run. As long as Fox remains the media arm of the Republican Party, the GOP's presidential hopefuls will court it for their benefit. If it looks like Fox wants to take control of the Republican Party, all those who might want that control for themselves might suddenly become crusaders for ethical journalism. This could not only threaten Ailes' candidacy, but also threaten the monolithic power of Fox to make opinion and influence other conservative media and the larger conservative message.

Then we might wish to take the toxic corporate culture of our era into mind: A man like Roger Ailes almost certainly feels that, as a CEO, he is more powerful than any president and the job would only be a demotion.


TRUTH 101 said...

I hope the guy does run. For all the political junkies like you and I ER, there are hundreds of thousands that aren't. These people never heard of Ailes.

Remeber when Steve Forbes ran? Most people had no idea who he was. When the campaign got in full swing, three debates later he was recognized for the inferior presidential material he was. Pat Robertson won Iowa or finished second. Can't remember. But soon enough, once the masses started paying attention, he was done also. You can also thank the party apparatus for helping Bush Sr. but the point is, the flavor of the week is just that.

FOX gets 3million? viewers a night. One percent of the population. 20 times that many watched Obama's inauguration. I wouldn't worry about Ailes chances.

Chris Richards said...

I'm not worried about Ailes' chances of actually winning the White House at all. Part of me hopes he does run just to see whether or not his opponents for the nomination will have the balls to start questioning Fox News reporting and looking for Fox scandals to throw at Ailes. There are plenty of them there, after all.

What I am curious about is whether or not he could win the Republican nomination. Part of me thinks it an excellent commentary on our time and an almost certain lock. Another part of me thinks the actual political leadership wouldn't want the media arm usurping their position.

So it's not that I am worried about Ailes running. I just think it's a lot of smoke and thunder over nothing. He won't run because he won't want to risk the kind of breach between Fox News and many Republicans that would happen if Fox News ran for president.

democommie said...


Since the GOP already has Rushbo as their de facto Secratary of State (y'know, the guy who deals with the "furriners" that are not REAL merKKKins) I don't know that they are that leary of being turned into the Party Of Fox.

Chris Richards said...

decmocommie, it's a power thing.

People who are very happy to have Fox doing what it does on their behalf and who accept its role in the kingmaking process would not like to see Roger Ailes crown himself and see Fox then turn into his own personal soapbox once he is one of them.

Let's put it another way, since you mentioned Rush. If he ran for president, do you think that his primary campaign would not suddenly be about every stupid thing he ever said? Every offensive thing he ever said? Of course it would. All the safety and privilege he enjoys as an armchair quarterback, beloved by all on the right, would be gone when he stopped being a cheerleader and started trying to play the game himself. Because these guys want to win.

It's not about the GOP's unwillingness to be the 'Party of Fox.' It's about the realities and rules of politics. When you are in the media, playing the sidelines, you have influence but are dependent on those with the power. Politicians are ambitious people and (right or left, good or bad, honest or corrupt) they like having their power.

Fox enjoying both massive influence and real power would not be something the Republican political establishment would tolerate. They want to remain in control.

So if Ailes runs, you will find a lot of Republican primary candidates suddenly think Fox communicates too many stupid or offensive ideas and that Ailes can't be trusted.

It's politics.

democommie said...


Oh, I agree with your premises. I just think it would be fun to watch, like seeing a video of the State Police in AK dragging the Palin's out of their home and tossing them in the pokey.

Chris Richards said...

It reminds me of something Joe R. Lansdale said in the forward to someone else's book...

'It's our chance to look at the dark side without having to be a part of it. It's like watching an alligator eat a pig. Ugly, but still mesmerizing. Especially since we're not the pig.'

I'm equally certain that if it did happen, it would be a good show.