How much can one single individual influence the political landscape?
Spin doctor Roger Ailes was a political adviser to Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush, and for Rudy Giuliani‘s first mayoral campaign. to become a newsman. As he transitioned to what later became MSNBC, he more or less invented television formats where people just talked about politics for hours on end.
After MSNBC, with the backing of media magnate Rupert Murdoch, Ailes started Fox News in 1996. The idea was to create a Republican news channel. As Ailes saw it, all other news networks was run by the Liberal party — or at least their agenda. The television series depicts how Ailes built Fox News from the ground up using plenty of power plays and persuasion techniques.
Russel Crowe’s portrayal of Roger Ailes is chilling. The viewer can clearly understand Ailes’ reasoning and his personal struggles. There are moments when you are tempted to admire his prowess in navigating politics and the news media. However, he was also the definition of an evil man. Crowe’s character work is in many ways humanising Ailes, but this only makes his evil-doings much more scary, not less.
Anyone interested in public affairs, crisis communication, and media logic will definitely gasp at the absurdity by which one single man can influence such a large numbers of people by using non-ethical propaganda techniques. This portrayal of Roger Ailes is as much an embarrassment for Fox News as it is for American journalism and democracy in general.
The show cycles through a series of important historical events, events that many of us remember quite clearly. It’s educational to get a better idea of what role Fox News has been playing in American politics ever since 1996. I only wish that we could have been told more about the Clinton administration and scandal revolving around Monica Lewinsky.
The script and the acting is phenomenal. The drama is filled to the brim with goodies for those of us who enjoy insight and case studies on how to deploy practical propaganda techniques.
The storyline is based on a string of separate stories and some of these stories are just weaker. The story about how Roger Ailes acquired a local newspaper, for instance, was actually quite boring in comparison.