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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

 
Is he Nuts?

by digby


If you read only one thing today, do yourself a favor and read this fascinating profile of Roger Ailes by Tom Junot in Esquire. It's so full of interesting insights into the Ego and Id of tea party American that I don't even know where to start.

Here's just one little tid-bit and it may not even be the best one:

Is Roger Ailes a cynical man? Not at all. He really believes the things he says. He really believes that he is an average American. He really believes that he is looked down upon by those who admire and fear him. He really believes that he is the only man in America who can be called fat with impunity. He really believes that his power is rooted in his disregard for what people think of him. He really believes that he is the only genuine person in the media business. He really believes that Fox is fair and balanced. He really believes that his success has very little to do with politics and very much to do with television. He really believes — despite his subsequent apologies — that the people who fired poor Juan Williams from NPR are Nazis. He really believes that he seeks out liberal voices as ardently as he seeks out conservative ones. He really believes that until his arthritis immobilized him, he could always have gone back to digging ditches for a living. He really believes that despite being immobilized by arthritis, he could handle himself if someone challenged him to a fight, and that whoever comes to New York to fight him shouldn't bother buying a plane ticket home.

Okay, then: Is Roger Ailes crazy? Now that's a good question ... because Roger Ailes believes that you are — or, at the very least, that you think you are. It's his grand theory of human behavior. "Look," he says, "there isn't a day that goes by that everybody doesn't say to themselves, 'Am I nuts?' They do it in their heads. People think that they're nuts." He has such confidence in the validity of this theory that he created a show for his America's Talking network called exactly that — Am I Nuts? He's so confident that he built Fox News as a twenty-four-hour Am I Nuts? for American conservatives. See, what Roger Ailes has done at Fox is find a way to mainstream extremity for fun and, of course, for profit. He's found out that people need the validating experience of extremity in the same way that he does. And he takes extreme positions and says extreme things because he needs to, because they allow him to make the choice that's at the heart of his power.


Wow.

The man is an unparalleled media expert who understands more about how it works than anyone in the business. You can't argue with his success. What that says about American culture is something else again.


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