Gawker's John Cook parses a few statements by Roger Ailes of Fox News:
In a 7-minute interview with the National Review Online's Peter Robinson that was posted this morning, Ailes casually undermined the point of Fox News and acknowledged that much of what it peddles to "real Americans" in "the heartland" is just calculated rhetoric that he's not stupid enough to actually believe....
In one statement from the interview, Ailes criticizes those who wear lapel pins to demonstrate their solidarity with one group or another:
... They wear ribbons for various charity events.... I don't wear the pins. And so they assume that I don't care. Of course I care, but I don't think wearing the right pin makes me a caring person. I think whether I am or I'm not is in my heart.
He's not talking about the American flag -- but this is precisely why Barack Obama said during the campaign that he didn't always wear an American-flag pin. And Ailes's Fox News slammed him for it mercilessly.
(Ailes, it should be noted, not only isn't wearing a charity ribbon on his lapel in the interview video, he isn't wearing a flag pin.)
Ailes also compares the Afghan war to Vietnam -- and says he's opposed escalation in both conflicts. What a liberal!
So in what way is Ailes in sync with his audience? Well, as Cook says, he shares Fox-watchers' class anger:
He may have escaped from the desperate heartland of Warren, Ohio, and he may be educated and intelligent enough to hold complicated views, but he's still one of them:
I don't see myself at the Beverly Wilshire hotel or at Le Cirque here in New York. Those are people who aspire to different things -- the chattering class.
Of course, as Cook discovers, Ailes actually does go to Le Cirque. He's part of the chattering class.
And that's the boss's line of hypocrisy, too.
In New York magazine's cover story this week on Rupert Murdoch, we're told:
Murdoch's hatred of the [New York] Times is a product of his long-standing class antagonisms rooted in his early days as an Australian building an empire in London.
And how does the great class warrior fight his battles for the poor and dispossessed? Let's look at what was taking place when Murdoch was beginning his quest to purchase The Wall Street Journal. (Emphasis is added below.)
On June 10, 2007, Murdoch opened the Gray Lady to read an editorial about his planned takeover of the Journal. "Frankly," the piece intoned, "we hope the Bancrofts will find a way to continue producing their fine newspaper, or, failing that, find a buyer who is a safer bet to protect the newspaper for its readers."
Murdoch was infuriated by the editorial, which he saw as yet another example, as if more were needed, of the Times' characteristic self-interest wrapped in a cloak of high-toned moralism. The previous night, he had run into Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. at a party on Barry Diller's yacht, and Sulzberger had assured him the piece wasn't "faintly anti-Murdoch," as Sarah Ellison reports in her upcoming book, War at the Wall Street Journal. Murdoch wrote Sulzberger a personal note the next morning that concluded: "Let the battle begin!"
Lied to! On BARRY DILLER'S YACHT, no less!
AMANDLA! OFF THE PIGS! VIVA LA HUELGA! JIHAD!
One way to look at this is that Ailes and Murdoch are our versions of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab -- wealthy beneficiaries of the established order who, unsatisfied, become peddlers of radicalism. (Murdoch is actually a lot like Abdulmutallab: the would-be underwear bomber is the wealthy son of a banker who's one of the most prominent citizens of his nation, Nigeria; Murdoch is the son of Sir Keith Murdoch, an wealthy newspaper magnate who was extremely well-connected socially and politically in Australia. "Sir Keith Murdoch left us in his debt," said Australia's prime minister when Sir Keith died. They're both sons of men who were prominent, but only locally prominent. The sons felt the need to take their radicalism to the U.S., the world's superpower.)
Another way to look at this is that this is what we have in this country in place of real class struggle -- not economic class against economic class, but one set of rich guys against another. Murdoch vs. the Times. Cablevision vs. Disney/ABC. Viacom vs. Hulu. That sort of thing.