Roger Ailes, former CEO of Fox News and current adviser to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump thinks he can do no wrong.
He dreamed of a world in which news and entertainment blended together so seamlessly, that finding the join was near impossible. He imagined a world where opinion outweighed fact, and where the role of news was to beguile, rather than inform. He tore down the fourth estate and built in its place a parody of himself, a wallowing barge of a frat-house party hopped up on Viagra and Ritalin suppositories.
It’s all gone now. They took it from him.
They had to, really.
A Reign Of Terror
The allegations began to stack up like a West Virginia waffle tower. The inappropriate comments, the demands for oral sex from teenage girls, and the firing of women who slapped his pawing hands away. Such was the case with former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who is currently suing for wrongful dismissal.
It was all too much for Ailes. His decision to put the $40-million-dollar golden handshake he received from News Corps to good use is far from surprising. Nor is his decision to hire Charles Harder.
Contradiction in terms though it may be, Harder may well be the best man for the job.
Forever remembered as the man who brought down Gawker, a company known for its hard-hitting copy, Harder knows how to get results. The site was hit by a $140 million lawsuit that was filed by Hulk Hogan but bankrolled – at least in part – by billionaire PayPal founder Peter Thiel.
The Grudge Report
Gawker’s decision to publish an article discussing Thiel’s sexuality may well have been its biggest mistake. Unable to attack the site directly, Thiel bided his time, using Hogan’s suit as a proxy vehicle to wreak vengeance from afar. The decade long enmity finally paid dividends; the suit ultimately bankrupted the site.
It was an ominous portent of things to come, a direct attack on free speech itself. The site’s feature’s editor, Tom Scocca saw with great clarity what had just occurred. In his final Gawker post, he signed off with a sentiment that cut to the heart of the issue:
“A lie with a billion dollars behind it is stronger than the truth.”
Harder’s love of billionaires with the money to intimidate and suppress information they don’t care for, continued unabated. On September 2 Melania Trump announced she was suing the Daily Mail over claims that she was once a prostitute.
Gabriel And Goliath
Yesterday Ailes retained the services of Harder in a possible lawsuit not only against the New York Magazine but also against one of its correspondents, Gabriel Sherman. Sherman’s attacks on Ailes began with the release of an unauthorized biography back in 2014 and have continued unabated. His investigations have been instrumental in allowing dozens of women to come forward with allegations of sexual harassment. That Ailes is considering suing a man simply for doing his job is chilling. Indeed, the power asymmetry of such an attack is of almost biblical proportions.
Ailes Doesn’t Give A F*&k
There are many disturbing elements to such revelations. To begin with, Gretchen Carlson announced just earlier this week, that she had secretly taped Ailes harassing her. Whilst the full details of these recordings will have to wait, what little she has already shared is truly, shocking.
And yet, Ailes seems unconcerned by the existence of such damning evidence. Perhaps, in his mind, his suggestion to Carlson that they settle their differences by having sex was not harassment. Perhaps he believes – as men like him often do – that she secretly enjoyed the clammy attention of a soon to be octogenarian man abusing a position of power.
Or perhaps Scocca knows what many of us have come to suspect, that in today’s America, money is the only card worth playing. Perhaps there is, as Scocca said, one last story to be told:
“You live in a country where a billionaire can put a publication out of business. A billionaire can pick off an individual writer and leave that person penniless and without legal protection. If you want to write stories that might anger a billionaire, you need to work for another billionaire yourself, or for a billion-dollar corporation. The law will not protect you. There is no freedom in this world, but power and money.”
Watch Megan Kelly lie about how much she respects Roger Ailes.
Featured image is a YouTube screengrab.