Saturday, May 20, 2017

CONTROVERSIAL BROADCASTER DIES -- FOX NEWS

Roger Ailes died Thursday, April 18th reportedly following a coma due to bleeding in the brain after bumping his head when he fell.    Some people admire how he built Fox TV into a successful broadcast network.   Others have less regard for his doing so because of the methods and tactics he used -- especially the manner in which news quality was compromised -- often injected with tabloidism journalism with which Fox TV network owner Rupert Murdoch had long been associated. 

Roger Ailes began his broadcasting career during the late 1950s, early ‘60s when numerous TV stations were producing live audience participation talk shows.  The Central Ohio station where I was employed was developing their own network stations’ talk shows in several Midwest states.     One station’s host was Phil Donahue.  In a  nearby Great Lakes city another corporation decided to also launch a talk show.  They pursued hiring our show’s host, but he declined their offers.    Mike Douglas became their host with Roger Ailes producing.

Later some Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ordered corporate broadcasting changes occurred causing the Douglas show and Ailes to relocate to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for a long successful program run.     Ailes continued to hone his producing, broadcasting skills.   Association with candidate/then President Richard Nixon figured in his history as did the first George Bush who became President with Ailes help. 

Eventually, when Ailes came to Fox TV some have reported he began gradually infusing a political perspective into news in ways that were less impartial – fostering a news department often viewed as being  politically biased -- contrary to their slogan claiming “fair and balanced” that many viewers may have naively believed, apparently without independently verifying.  
   
A little history ..... 
Several years ago I became concerned about Rupert Murdoch’s controversial actions in Great Britain’s media, so I followed what proved to be disturbing events there.  Years later I rued the day Murdoch was able to gain access to our United States media market, especially given his efforts to gain control of so much media in Great Britain and then here.  

Murdoch was an Australian publisher whose early publishing career focused on “…sensationalist journalism…” as described in his Britannica biography and multiple other sources.   This lesser quality entertainment approach to news infused his publishing in GB’s media which was less than welcomed by people there who valued higher quality straight forward factual news accounts minus those sometimes allegedly questionable warpings.        
Then, the Murdoch organization reputation became even more tarnished due to a phone hacking scandal and political involvements associated with some of his highest level closest employees in his growing media empire.    This affair thwarted his making more media acquisitions in Great Britain for many years. 

Most recently Murdoch and his sons’  21st Century Fox corporation have resumed pursuit of  acquiring control of Sky, theBritish satellite television giant, The Guardian reports.

Britain’s regulatory review is delaying a decision on approving Murdoch’s Sky acquisition until early June elections.  Fox News sexual harassment scandal involving Ailes and more recently their star host, Bill O’Reilly who had to resign, has cast a shadow over the British review theNew York Times reports April 21, 2017.

Since I’ve been following the activities of Rupert Murdoch beginning when his type of journalism first aroused concern in Great Britain….. then when he later came to the United States…..  made media acquisitions here -- I soon encountered the name, Roger Ailes.

Viewing Murdoch’s Fox News TV network programming had long since revealed to me that much news reporting there hardly measured up to valued high quality broadcasting standards.    Learning more about Roger Ailes politicizing approach to news I expect also the senior Murdoch’s sensationalism orientation is reflected.    Their apparent support and slant for Trump as a candidate and now President is not surprising either.    At least one opinion on CNN suggests Ailes gave us Donald Trump.

I long intended to write about Roger Ailes but have increasingly wanted to do so given some of the issues of his association and friendship with Donald J. Trump.  

Several years ago seeking more information about Ailes I read a biography with content documented sources.  The book is entitled “The Loudest Voice in the Room” by Gabriel Sherman – “How The Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News – And Divided A Country.”  

Insight into Fox News Department operations and news formulations is interestingly presented in this Ailes biography.   That same approach to Fox news may well continue though Ailes resigned his position last July due to sexual harassment accusations with law cases still pending, but Rupert Murdoch still owns Fox TV.  (He owns other U.S. media including the Wall Street Journal which initially had some concerned about his possible editorial influence.)

TV viewers might well appreciate reading this Ailes biography for considerations when assessing production quality and influences related to Fox’s “fair and balanced” news as well as  that of all other news media.

Television viewer ratings will continue to impact all broadcasters.   Rupert Murdoch’s son’s are expected to assume more control of the Fox TV operations, so it will be interesting to see if that results in any news quality changes differing from what their father found acceptable and what Ailes influences remain.





21 comments:

  1. Interesting post. I couldn't have written it without adding a few nasty sentences about how much I hate his contribution to our world and how he's chanced broadcast news for the worst. I want my rich people to all have the morals and values of the Bill Gates of the world. Ya, I'm a dreamer. LOL

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    1. I, too, find the introduction of sensationalism turning news into entertainment repelling. Viewers are somewhat to blame, as the ratings show increased numbers watch the schlocky news versions -- hence we have broadcasters, commentators, advertisers catering to them.

      The tragedy is reportedly years ago when, for example, G.E. assumed ownership of NBC and determined the News Dept. had to show a profit. The American people own the airwaves, so broadcasters are obliged to provide some public service in return. Surely, news free of commercial influences isn't too much to expect. The Federal Communications Commission is supposed to be overseeing and protecting our rights, but most recently with the Internet they're betraying us by ceasing to protect network neutrality -- but that's another story.

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  2. What a memory you have - to recall all of that, over the years. Kudos! Murdock has a stronghold on news in the USA, for sure.
    Cop Car

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    1. I loved the promise of broadcasting including PBS when it came into popular use during my young adult life. Just as with the Internet now -- the mediums can have both positive and negative uses. The people own the airwaves so we are obligated to police them and the FCC when they lose sight of our best interests. Those who control information distribution all over the world have incredible power. I, for one, am very concerned about who has that power, so what transpires in the communication world has interested me most of my life though I certainly don't profess to be an expert on the topic.

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  3. I saw where Mr. Ailes had passed away.
    Good informative post.

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  4. Harvard just did a study looking at the news from various media sources for bias. Fox actually came out less at only 52% negative about Trump while outlets like CNN were above 90% negative.

    I think Ailes maybe helped create our entire media outlook where hysteria is encouraged and the facts lowered to of less importance. It does increase ratings when the anchors go ballistic-- at least for the side that favors their viewpoint. I think we are at a point where no news is unbiased and headlines are often misleading but how many read beyond the headlines.

    Even talk shows on TV don't have the relaxed quality they did in the Michael Douglas era (and I used to listen to him and Donahue back in the Jack Parr era). I have never watched The View but see clips from it once in awhile on the news, and I'd be so upset if I tried to spend time with that panel. Of course, I don't watch any daytime TV unless it's HGTV where they show how to remodel houses. Really like the ideas I get there ;) and it's relaxing in comparison to anything else.

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    1. As often happens with focus on research in these sound bite days, people fail to fully examine all of a study's intricacies and implications which can be misleading. In this study, an interpretation assuming the media has been overly negative completely overlooks what the data has shown. Just as with a period in Bill Clinton's Presidency -- there wasn't anything positive to focus on -- unless it was Trump's alternate facts which all know to be falsehoods.

      Read here "Trump's media coverage has been 4- to- 1 negative, but that isn't really the point"
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/05/19/coverage-of-president-trump-has-been-4-to-1-negative-but-that-isnt-really-the-point/?utm_term=.becd8bdb50f6

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    2. Since Bezos bought it, Post is the worst of the worst as far as I am concerned. For a liberal, it might be great; but for a moderate, it's very biased in headlines and what it chooses to cover.

      And yes, they could just be recording what he has done and hence it's negative and that's not their fault. The thing is how do we know what to believe. Yesterday I read that Trump told the Russians he got rid of Comey to get rid of the Russian investigation. Today the Russian ambassador at the meeting said that never happened-- that they never discussed Comey at all. So lefties believe the first. Righties believe the second and I don't know what to think. Most of the time people believe what suits their already preconceived opinion-- and that's even more so today.

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    3. I understand your concern, but Bezos didn't conduct the research. The research is what it is whether someone is left, right or in the middle -- not just the simplistic conclusion those who want to condemn the media choose. This is often the case with lots of research where the finer points are ignored for a more sensationalist emphasis and over-simplification of complex aspects. Almost important to read the research ourselves to determine its reliability and validity no matter where it comes from.

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  5. I should add that I have watched all the cable outlets but not the big networks for news. I have seen clear bias by choice of guests on MSNBC the last time I went there and the hosts are totally liberal. Fox has hosts who are conservative but their guests usually represent both sides. The arguing there can get to me. I find CNN too boring to stick with it; so most of my news comes from what I read from a variety of sites and slants. My main frustration right now is that there are usually two versions of anything out there. It's why I quit writing on the rant. I felt like about the time I'd write something, the next day the story would come from another angle and change totally. And that doesn't begin to count what Facebook has with stories from unknowns who totally have the inside scoop and it's always about the nefarious Trump and how he's about to be sent to prison. Maybe so but I don't for a second think those insiders are insiders. They are those with a point to make and who knows what they actually know. Only time will tell.

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    1. Not all media is credible as we all learn sooner or later. We have to make our own judgments about what we consider viable, using whatever criteria we believe most closely represents the values we expect from news journalism. Distinguishing between opinion and facts matters. Social media is what it is and doesn't conflate with media news in my opinion.

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    2. So what do you equate as being media news? I see a lot of pundits out there pushing their agenda-- covering the stories that suit their preconceived agenda. They are no more neutral than most of us are. Some think if the NYTimes and WashingtonPost say it, it must be true. Others if it's on Fox, that's the last word. Our media does not give us all the news. I got down on the major newspapers during the primary as I'd see a headline, read the story, and somewhere deep inside, three pages down, the headline would be negated. Who read that far? I am so down on media right now-- all of them. Worse is the fake news sites who are sure Trump is on his way to prison-- and that gets repeated by all sorts of lefties. Might even be true but a lot of it, like about Hillary, wasn't. It's very difficult to find facts and probably always was-- remember the Yellow Journalism that got America into the Spanish American War...

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    3. I can understand your disillusionment with news which I recognize other people feel, too. I think that is partly due to the politicization and sensationalizing of news. Certainly there has been a proliferation of so-called news sources coupled with demonstrably deliberate efforts to undermine our citizens trust and confidence in our press.

      Media news for me consists of the traditional broadcast and print media including those who are professional news people -- some of the latter that come to mind are Associated Press, United Press International. Digital sources can be of value such as Politico.

      Social media, including FB, is the same as just having conversations on various topics with friends, neighbors, others, some of whom might be more enlightening than others -- including what I might offer. Same is true for blogs, including this one.

      I provide documented sources which I consider credible, but that's just for the specific reference I'm making. Readers can read more detailed information if a reader is interested -- they can even follow up with a Google Search. In any event, readers make their own observations about what they've read -- then, think what they like.

      I can't account for whoever those are who you say "think if the NYTimes and WashingtonPost say it, it must be true." I don't make those kind of "all or none" assumptions about any reference -- if other research I've conducted concurs with one of their articles, I may reference one of them. We each make our own determinations, based on our own criteria, as to what is likely to be the most honest, true account of what is being reported. Articles that are opinion are just that.

      Readers/viewers have to decide who and what they consider credible by a large variety of means that we each develop over the years, using critical thinking, often employing trial and error, and have to continue doing as long as we remain engaged with the world. A lot of chaff gets dropped by the wayside in the process of seeking the wheat. Occasionally, some of the wheat gets fungi, or whatever, but the whole crop may not be ruined, ergo some of journalistic news is healthy -- it's up to you to find it.

      And then there were the nation's leaders whose mendacity took us into the Vietnam War and the Iraq War.....so we must use great care about who we elect as leaders.

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  6. I am a newspaper and internet news reader and rarely watch television for news. Murdoch's presence in India is more or less benign and his empire is much smaller than the local ones. His slant is more towards entertainment here than news. I am not very clued in about Fox News other than what I have read in the press and as such don't think that I am qualified to comment.

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    1. I haven't encountered recent discussion by knowledgeable people about Murdoch's specific empire goals in India. Here's one article from 2015 I just noted in a quick Google search: https://qz.com/476806/why-rupert-murdoch-wont-buy-an-indian-news-business/
      India is a continuing growing force in the world, so I would expect having an information distribution foothold there would be desirable. Coming in the entertainment door would be one way to advance Murdoch's agenda in India. This would be helpful toward controlling information throughout the world, or at least to be a strong player. Information, especially through news, as it impacts politics has greater implications as Great Britain learned and the United States has, too. Clearly information distribution is vital as evidenced in Russia, China and most dictatorships which exclude much dissension often in brutal ways.

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  7. Unfortunately, we had no good choice by the time it got to the presidential election. Vote third party and throw your vote away. Either of the two main candidates were equally likely to get us into another war and use bad judgment elsewhere. I blame the Democratic party for that when the establishment made up its mind that it wanted Clinton and set up their super delegates to make Sanders almost impossible to win-- or even get the delegates in states he won. Not say Republicans were better-- anyone moderate at all is pushed out long before it gets to the end. The establishment, in both parties and the 'super' media, has been in power a long time. If a president wants to stay in office, he has to play along, which Obama did with ACA when he let pharmaceuticals get what they wanted and again establishment won (for awhile). I don't blame him for it given the economics at the time. It's a disappointing time politically for me with no knights on white horses out there-- yet ;)

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    1. The subject of this post basically has to do with Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdock's news corporation, orientation and quality of news they distribute. I think we've gone far afield. Certainly the matters you bring up are all related at some level, but they're much broader than can be covered here. They're certainly worthy of discussion i.e. reining in the pharmaceutical companies, but I think they would be better addressed as a number of topics in other posts you might want to write on whatever specific elements or threads you might select from your comments. ;-)

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  8. So we blame Ailes in part for this split in our culture? I have tried to be fair and balanced by watching Faux News, but there is so much "crap" that I cannot stomach it.

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    1. I think blaming Ailes's is an over-simplification, and is a bit of sensationalizing itself that maybe someone other than the book's author wrote to sell the book as I've read publisher's sometimes do. There are many factors at play dividing our culture, I think, but Faux News -- as you put it -- and Ailes molding their coverage likely had influence.

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  9. Here's an interesting current NY Mag article, "Roger and Me" by Gabriel Sherman reflecting on Ailes following his death:
    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/05/roger-and-me-a-reporter-reflects-on-his-ailes-coverage.html

    Sherman also participated in a Charlie Rose Show 5/19/17 segment following Ailes' death which will likely soon be available on the PBS program's site: https://charlierose.com

    Here's a link to the original program length interview Rose did in 2001 with Ailes from which a brief segment was taken for the 5/19/17 program. In the original program Ailes observed viewers should be cautious viewing news -- he should know, given how he was shaping Fox News Dept. according to Sherman's research:
    https://charlierose.com/videos/4686

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