A new biography of Fox News Chief (and founding CEO) Roger Ailes suggests that he actually believes a lot of the anti-science, anti-clean energy nonsense he puts on the air. Ailes didn’t just drink the Kool Aid, he apparently mixed it himself.
The book, “The Loudest Voice in the Room,” explains that Ailes would rail against Obama to his neighbors in upstate New York with bizarre arguments, claiming for instance:
… climate change was a “worldwide conspiracy” spun by ”foreign nations” to gain control of America’s resources.
That is extreme even by Fox News standards. Heck, it is extreme by the standards of conspiracy buff (and former Fox pundit) Glenn Beck.
You can find this excerpt online at Amazon, where you will also learn of Ailes’ healthy ego:
“I want to elect the next president,” he told Fox executives in a meeting in 2010…. “Every single candidate has consulted with Roger,” one top Republican said.
But that meant candidates like Former Utah Governor Huntsman would have to pass the Roger Ailes anti-science litmus test:
In a meeting at Fox news, Ailes flatly told Huntsman, “You are not of our orthodoxy,” citing his stance on climate change. (“To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy,” Huntsman had tweeted)
The result: Huntsman — a mainstream conservative widely viewed as a tough competitor to Obama in a general election — saw only four and a half hours of Fox airtime during his campaign whereas Herman Cain got more than 11 hours. Hermain Cain!!
So yes, Ailes appears to have been driving Fox News by his own extremist orthodoxy even at the expense of the Republican party.
Consider Fox News’ drumbeat attacks on federal support for solar energy, one of the most popular government programs in the country across the political spectrum. A book excerpt on TPM explains why Ailes pushed the attacks during the 2012 campaign, which saw more than 600 Fox appearances by GOP presidential candidates in 2011 alone:
But as Fox’s pundits and anchors pushed the candidates into the conspiracy swamps of … Solyndra, the bankrupt solar panel company, Fox risked alienating independent viewers—and voters.
It was a case of Ailes being unable to put his party’s goal of winning independents ahead of his personal views. “He doesn’t like green energy—period,” a senior producer said. “He says all the time that no one in America has died from nuclear power, but fifteen people have been chopped up by those damn windmills.”
For the record, the windmill claim “is absurd and baseless,” according to the American Wind Energy Association. On the other hand, lots of Americans have died from nuclear power, most notably uranium miners.
But here’s the point — even lots of people in the Tea Party like green energy! Roger Ailes, however, doesn’t and so neither does Fox News. Fox News ending up giving Solyndra “more than 8 hours of airtime — almost three times that of CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC and CBS combined.”
For all those who thought that the extremism of Fox News was a purely cynical effort to win elections, this new biography makes the case that Roger Ailes, at least, is a true believer.