In The Guardian, journalist Michael Wolff (who you may recall wrote an authorized biography of Rupert Murdoch back in 2010) tackles the contract renewal of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. Wolff argues that Ailes is a malevolent auteur, who is well aware of the influence he holds, both in the halls of politics and the world of media.
Let me make a crucial distinction here: Ailes is fundamentally concerned with ratings, but they are achieved, in his approach, precisely by rocking the boat (a concept that I doubt any other working television executive could grasp). The long-term success of Fox is the result of not just annoying the left, but of creating an ever-mounting dramatic tension among conservatives of various hues. Ailes’ real theme is authenticity, and his talent is to be able to undercut everybody else’s claim to it.
Ailes creates conflict. Conflict creates good television.
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