Roger Ailes, the media consultant for Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Rudy Giuliani’s first mayoral campaign, created Fox News to distract Americans from information harmful to archconservative right-wing GOP political interests and it worked.
For decades, Fox has provided distraction and cover for con artists parading as conservative politicians and the scheme has been so successful that large portions of the electorate believe things that are factually untrue.
In 1984, after the 73-year-old President Ronald Reagan floundered in his first debate with Walter Mondale, Ailes prepped the campaign to laugh off the early signs of Alzheimer’s that he was beginning to exhibit.
Tributes to President George Bush’s essential decency and civility, ignore his embrace of ads featuring Willie Horton during his campaign against Michael Dukakis.
Many Fox viewers believe Iraq was involved in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks (it was not) or that President Donald Trump was cheated in the 2020 presidential election (he lost by more than 8 million ballots and was defeated in the Electoral College by a margin of 306 to 232).
Changing the conversation has always been a way to deflect from embarrassing information, unwanted consequences, and unflattering revelations so Ailes invented a platform that would cater to a conservative audience that was frequently disappointed by fair and accurate reporting.
Soon his channel became the only source of information that conservative voters tuned into and the theater of politics began a new phase of not just distraction but misinformation and emotional manipulation.
Fox was the only purported cable news channel that refused to broadcast the first public hearing by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch hired Ailes in 1996 to become the CEO of Fox News, creating the most profitable – and therefore least accountable –propaganda machine in history.
2019 Pew survey showed that among people who named Fox News as their main source for political and election news, 93% identify as Republicans.
Fox News “has relentlessly hyped phantom menaces” to advance extremist politics
“As a political consultant, Ailes repackaged Richard Nixon for television in 1968, papered over Ronald Reagan’s budding Alzheimer’s in 1984, shamelessly stoked racial fears to elect George H.W. Bush in 1988, and waged a secret campaign on behalf of Big Tobacco to derail health care reform in 1993,” wrote Rolling Stone reporter Tim Dickinson in 2011.
“It was while working for Nixon that Ailes first experimented with blurring the distinction between journalism and politics, developing a knack for manipulating political imagery that would find its ultimate expression in Fox News,” wrote Dickinson.
Nixon consciously stoked the anger of white voters aggrieved by the advances of the civil rights movement, while Trump built on the racist resentment over President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House.
Consequently, Fox viewers equate the failed coup d’etat on January 6, 2021, with the rioting that occurred at a small number of the thousands of racial justice protests that erupted following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.
To prevent their conservative audience from losing faith in biased and faulty reports, Fox News simply refused to broadcast the hearings of the Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
Big tech monopolies and profitable political propaganda parading as actual news coverage are extremely dangerous to the American republic, but there have been no consequences for such bad behavior.