On Thursday morning, the country woke up to the news that the former chief of Fox News, Roger Ailes, died. His wife, Elizabeth, released a statement saying:
I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning. Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many. He was also a patriot, profoundly grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise — and to give back.
Although I feel bad for his family, especially his child, that they lost someone they loved so much, I am profoundly happy for America. Does that make me mean? Probably, but let’s not allow his death hoodwink us into thinking he was a great guy; he certainly was not. Often times when someone passes away, we as empathetic human beings like to rewrite the deceased’s personal history in order to show sympathy for the family. I’m not going to do that, in fact, I think now is a good time to remind everyone why it’s okay to say “Fuck Roger Ailes!” today.
Let’s all look at a few examples of just how terrible Roger Ailes was.
In 1988, Roger Ailes was instrumental in helping George H.W. Bush (and Nixon in ’68 and Reagan in ’84) win the presidential election against former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. Ailes ran the media side of the campaign and approved/produced some pretty brutal (and racist) attack ads. One of the ads that Ailes and Bush’s campaign manager Lee Atwater approved was “Willie Horton.” The ad, produced by former Ailes employee Larry McCarthy, was incredibly racist. Politico explains:
Horton was serving a life sentence without parole in Massachusetts for killing a man. He got a weekend furlough, fled and made his way to Maryland, where he broke into a home, tied a man to a joist in the basement, slashed his chest and stomach with a knife, then beat and raped the man’s fiancée. Horton was black. The couple was white. And Michael Dukakis was the governor of Massachusetts.
As Susan Estrich, the Dukakis campaign manager, would write: “There is no stronger metaphor for racial hatred in our country than the black man raping the white woman. If you were going to run a campaign of fear and smear and appeal to racial hatred you could not have picked a better case to use than this one.
Another of the ads Ailes produced was the “Revolving Door” which claimed the governor was soft on crime and allowing criminals to rape, rob and murder Americans while on weekend furloughs. The ad is said to have had the biggest impact in the ’88 campaign.
Ailes built his career on stoking racial resentment and demonizing minorities. Fuck Roger Ailes.
Almost a decade after getting Bush elected, Ailes was given an opportunity to poison the American electorate again, but this time on a much larger scale with the newly created Fox News network. In 1996, the media genius (I’ll give him that much credit) started Fox with the slogan “fair and balanced” but it was anything but. The Republican propaganda news network has spent the last two decades convincing old, white, racist Americans that the Democratic party and minorities are out to get them. It is the go-to place for the country’s worst voters and its viewers are the least informed of any other TV audience (they literally know less than people who DO NOT WATCH THE NEWS). The network’s dumbing down of America gave rise to Donald Trump who is now working diligently to destroy our democracy. Fuck Roger Ailes.
Finally, Ailes used his position at Fox News to regularly sexual harass women who worked for him and that behavior is eventually what led to his downfall. In 2016, the most powerful man in American media was suddenly forced to resign in disgrace after Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson sued him for sexual harassment:
Carlson said there had been at least six instances when Ailes talked about her body, intimidated her or used demeaning language. At least six other women, including former Fox News star Megyn Kelly, came forward to accuse Ailes, who denied wrongdoing.
Don’t fuck Roger Ailes. No one should ever have fucked this monster.
In short, Ailes was a racist, serial sexual predator who built a career duping the “poorly educated” Republican base. He is the reason the GOP has been so successful scaring Americans into voting against their own self-interests and the damage he has done to our democracy will be felt for decades to come. So forgive me, but I won’t sit around and mourn him, instead I’ll celebrate the fact that he’s probably grabbing Ayn Rand by the pussy in Hell.
Fuck Roger Ailes.