Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Death of Roger Ailes Puffs Wind Into Sails of a False Meme: The Corporate Mainstream Media As Liberal

New York Times and "On The Media" Coverage of the death of Roger Ailes allowed Ailes to make specious argument from the grave, in the end serving the financial interests.
The death of Roger Ailes could have been an occasion to note that the presence of Fox News on the corporate news spectrum (like the growing Sinclair Broadcast conglomerate and others) moves the already corporatist and hence conservative slant of mainstream media somewhat further to the right.

Instead, the death of Mr. Ailes was used to deceptively buttress the notion that Mr. Ailes himself worked hard to promote, that corporately owned mainstream media instead of being conservatively and routinely supportive of vested monied interests, is, instead, “liberal” or “progressive.”  The eulogies making this post mortum assessment don’t promote the Fox News Network that Mr. Ailes helped birth as “fair and balanced,” per the motto Mr. Ailes affixed to the network, the assessments instead make Mr. Ailes false fact practices seem almost “fair” or at least part if a fair game because it was “balancing.”

Somehow as they engage in this misleading-slight-of-hand the pundits manage to sound judiciously sober.

What am I talking about? . .

 . .  I am talking about the the impression you would likely have gotten from reading of Mr. Ailes death in the New York Times, which styles itself as the paper of record though hardly being reliable in that regard.

 . . . More disconcerting was hearing commentary on Mr, Ailes’ death from “On The Media,” a WNYC based public radio program the exists to provide and overarchingly accurate meta-perspective on the nation’s media generally.  It’s sad because I would normally recommend “On the Media” for being reliable in meeting higher standards.

I don’t think I am being too harsh here.

Before I get to the capper from “On the Media” here is what you could read in the New York Times:

•      Roger Ailes: The Man Who Mined a Divided America (The Fox News creator made a fortune creating a cultural safe space for Americans pining for the way things were), by Jim Rutenberg, May 18, 2017
    . .  Roger Ailes saw a divided country but an undivided news media. And he set out to change it.

    . . . Mr. Ailes built a network, the Fox News Channel, that would speak to and for those Americans he said were being ignored and disrespected. . .

    * * *

    His network . .  presenting news with an approach he called "fair and balanced," an indictment of the rest of the news media as excessively liberal.
•     Roger Ailes, Who Built Fox News Into an Empire, Dies at 77 (Mr. Ailes exerted wide influence on American politics with his conservative Fox News, only to be undone by sexual harassment allegations.), By Clyde Haberman, May 18, 2017
"If we look conservative," he said, "it's because the other guys are so far to the left." In his mordant humor, CNN stood for Clinton News Network and CBS for Communist Broadcasting System. What Fox News did, he said, was apply a necessary corrective.

* * * *

Almost immediately he called on Mr. Murdoch, who longed for a news network of his own and shared Mr. Ailes's belief that existing news organizations were far too liberal. They created Fox News in fairly short order.
You get the same impression from the video news version the Times posted- Roger Ailes: Polarizing Media Mastermind, May 18, 2017.

On the Media” much more explicitly described the corporately owned media Ailes was purportedly providing a balance against was actually liberal. progressive, not conservative.

•     A Bill of Indictment, May 19, 2017
FOX News Channel was founded on . . .  one great truth, that mainstream news media were voices of liberalism, . .  a journalistic mentality that largely overlaps with progressive thinking. Reform, truth to power, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, liberal democracy is the consensus . . .
In one fatal summary valedictory “On The Media” framed the entire existence of Fox News exactly as the sort of he-said-she-said contest that OTM normally inveighs against.

Instead of suggesting that Ailes genius was an atunement to the voice of a forgotten and neglected populace why didn't any of these summings up report on the money that catapulted Fox into existence in the mid 1990s before it gain traction with with manipulative falsehoods?

It is worth noting that Fox reportedly was paying cable television providers $11 a subscriber to put it on the air when it launched rather than the convention, which was the reverse, for the cable providrs to pay the content provdiers.  See: Bold grab for subs: Murdoch offers $11 to carry Fox News. (News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch to launch Fox News channel) May 6, 1996 and Media: Entrepreneurs race big cable companies to get new cable services to viewers, by Geraldine Fabrikant, May 6, 1996.

$11 per subscriber plus the forgone spread that would normally have been paid to a provider instead is quite a substantial portion of the overall average cable bill.  I don't know what it was in 1996, (bills have been increasing rapidly in recent years) but in 2001 the average cable bill was reportedly $48.00.

Consider the Fox News tactic of paying to be broadcast with how much other networks want to be paid their retransmission fees. In 2013 CBS went off the air in major cities because of the retransmission fees it demanded it be paid.  In March of 2010 a standoff between Disney’s ABC and cablevision affected the broadcast of the Oscars that year.

The political slant of corporately owned media media is a problem because it is corporately owned.  The slant of corporately-owned Fox News is likewise a problem, and that is similarly because of the money behind it.