I wondered where the idea had come from. For a long time, I blamed Murdoch. But I realized a long time ago that Murdoch, while a brilliant businessman, wasn't this creative. Then I read this article which appeared in the New York Times this past weekend.
The bit that caught my attention was this:
Once again, it all comes back to Nixon. I sometimes think the right wing of the Republican Party is still trying to get its revenge for 1960, when John F Kennedy defeated Nixon by 84 electoral votes but less than 1 percent of the popular vote. (As a point of interest, Nixon carried the entire west coast while Kennedy carried nearly all of the southern states. Things have changed a bit since those days.)
Mr. Ailes majored in radio and television at Ohio University and worked for “The Mike Douglas Show,” where at age 27 he met then-presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon in 1968.
“The camera doesn’t like you,” he told Mr. Nixon, according to “Crazy Like a Fox,” a book by Scott Collins about Fox News.
“It’s a shame a man has to use gimmicks like this to get elected,” Mr. Nixon said.
“Television is not a gimmick, and if you think it is, you’ll lose again,” Mr. Ailes said. The Nixon campaign hired him a few days later.
Once Nixon finally got into the White House in 1969, machinations by people like Ailes continued, with the apparent goal of making the Republican Party the most powerful and only important political party in the United States.
It took some seriously brilliant public relations to keep the party afloat after both Nixon and his Vice President Spiro Agnew were forced to resign due to allegations (in Nixon's case) and sustainable charges (in Agnew's case) of criminal misconduct of one sort or another.
Part of that credit has to be laid in Gerald Ford's lap. His preemptive pardoning Nixon for any criminal activities he may have participated in with regards to the Watergate incident may not have sat well with many people, but the inevitability of it could not be denied. And Ford was charming, so much so that more people noticed that than noticed how much of a Republican Party loyalist he was.
I cannot accept that no one in the Republican Party foresaw Ford's defeat in the next election. (Well, I know that the party saw it coming because there was an attempt to run someone other than Ford (e,.g,, Ronald Reagan) in that election. Yet I believe there are Republican party faithful who were angered by this defeat.
You'd think that, with Reagan's election, that anger and hatred would die back to a minor huff every once in a while. After all, not only was Reagan elected, but after eight years he was succeeded by his Vice President, the original George (HW) Bush.
I'm not going to comment on the damage done to the nation by Reagan. And I'm not going to dwell on the fact that I think HW Bush was a strong party loyalist and as corrupt a politician as they come but that he wasn't THAT bad of a President. But the story tells itself. The economic situation Reagan had left the country in left HW Bush with no option but to raise taxes. And that is one thing a Republican must never do. It was one thing HW Bush had, himself, sworn not to do.
And thus, Bill Clinton, an affable Democrat but no less a politician than any other (and much more so than most) became President after HW Bush's single term.
I think Ailes and others of his ilk saw this as a recurrence of the Nixon defeat in 1960. They determined that they needed to redouble their efforts to place the Republican party as the permanent ruling party in the United States. (I use the phrasing deliberately. If you think I'm making them sound Communist, remember that what the Soviets and Chinese call Communism is what most people call totalitarianism, a system in opposition to what pure communism really is.) One thing they decided they needed (possibly because CNN, newly powerful thanks to HW Bush's war in the Middle East, had shown a slight prejudice in favor of Democrats) their own news network.
There's obviously more to the story, but this was the birth of Fox News. It seems clear to me (and to others, some of whom are related to me, and he would be mortified if he knew about this citation, but I digress...) that it exists solely for revenge against upstart (my term for how I suspect they're viewed by this group) Democrats who would dare run against a Republican.
This is of no consequence, in the long run. I could tell fans of Faux News about this for days and they'd tell me I'm being unduly influenced by the left wing media. The trouble is, the left wing media is not as powerful as the right wing media (a) thinks it is and (b) is working towards becoming, itself. I don't deny the existence of some left wing media outlets. So I wish the right wing media would stop denying that it exists.
And I wish Roger Ailes could forgive people for being as good at their jobs as he is at his. But I'm a dreamer.