Tuesday, January 29, 2013

OBAMA'S "WAR ON FOX NEWS": BOOB-BAIT OR ACTUAL FIGMENT OF ROGER AILES'S PARANOID IMAGINATION?

There's an obvious explanation for why Fox News dispatched in-house faux-Democrat Kirsten Powers to write a FoxNews.com opinion piece asserting that the Obama White House is engaged in a "war on Fox News" and wants to "shut down" Fox: obviously, declaring itself the media outlet that strikes fear in Obama's heart is a good way for Fox to inspire brand loyalty among the rabid base. There's nothing more to it than that -- right? It's just boob-bait. Isn't it?

I'm not sure. Last night on Fox, Sean Hannity's show included a segment along the same lines, which featured some true paranoia, some of it expressed by Peter Johnson, the personal lawyer of Roger Ailes:
Reacting to President Barack Obama's criticism of the role the conservative Fox News Channel plays in U.S. politics, network contributor Peter Johnson, Jr. said Monday night that the president might just find a way to ban watching Fox News.

Johnson appeared on the network's nightly opinion show "Hannity" on Monday, where he and host Sean Hannity took Obama's recent critique of right-wing media -- wherein he told The New Republic that Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are a key stumbling block to compromise in Congress -- as some sort of forthcoming policy mandate to revoke the First Amendment.

"In other words, forget about that little thing called freedom of speech, differing views," Hannity said. "Instead, he wants any, all opposing voices to be, what, silenced? That includes the opinions that you hear on this program and watch every single night."

..."Now the president is saying, 'Listen, do it the way I do it or I'm gonna come down your pipe,'" [Johnson said]....

"So, to say, 'Oh, you know what's happened here is that we have an institutional barrier, according to the president, that stops the will of the people,'" Johnson said. "Sean, you know what the institutional barrier is? The United States Constitution. And so, people at home should be afraid because, they say, 'Am I not allowed to watch Fox anymore? Am I not allowed to listen to Rush or Sean? Am I doing something that's un-American?' You’re not." ...
Here's a clip of the segment (via Media Matters).





In the clip, Hannity, Johnson, and fellow Fox-ite Andrea Tantaros express confidence that with the Constitution and the 50% of the country that (they say) hates Obama -- no, more than 50%! -- they can fend off this jackbooted attempt at speech suppression. But claiming that speech suppression is actually on the president's mind is just an act, isn't it?

Maybe not. Recall what New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman wrote a few months ago:
... if you want to know what Roger Ailes really thinks about the news these days, here's a tip: Pay close attention to Peter Johnson Jr.

... he is Ailes's personal attorney who negotiated the network chief's new four-year contract with News Corp., said to be worth upward of $30 million a year. Fox executives frequently find Johnson conferring with Ailes privately. "He is a fixture in Ailes's office," one Fox source explained.

But Johnson's value to Ailes extends far beyond his work as a lawyer. This election season, when Ailes has a message to communicate, chances are that it is Johnson who articulates it on air. One insider told me that Johnson is allowed to use the teleprompter to read from scripts, a perk which is normally reserved for Fox hosts. "Johnson has a rare privilege other contributors don't have," the source said. "He can load a script directly into the teleprompter. So it's not even Ailes unplugged. It's Ailes plugged in ... It's why he sounds like Roger."
"He sounds like Roger." And we know how paranoid Roger Ailes is:
... [Ailes] lived in fear that gay activists would try to attack him in retaliation over his hostility to gay rights. (In 1989, Ailes had broken up a protest of a Rudy Giuliani speech by gay activists, grabbing demonstrator by the throat and shoving him out the door.) Barricading himself behind a massive mahogany desk, Ailes insisted on having "bombproof glass" installed in [his office] windows -- even going so far as to personally inspect samples of high-tech plexiglass, as though he were picking out new carpet. Looking down on the street below, he expressed his fears to Cooper, the editor he had tasked with up-armoring his office. "They'll be down there protesting," Ailes said. "Those gays."

... Inside his blast-resistant office at Fox News headquarters, Ailes keeps a monitor on his desk that allows him to view any activity outside his closed door. Once, after observing a dark-skinned man in what Ailes perceived to be Muslim garb, he put Fox News on lockdown. "What the hell!" Ailes shouted. "This guy could be bombing me!" The suspected terrorist turned out to be a janitor. "Roger tore up the whole floor," recalls a source close to Ailes.
Well, Ailes did work for Nixon, after all. So, yeah, I think he really does believe that President Obama would shut down Fox News if he could get away with it.

****

And no, I won't attempt to parse Johnson's expression "I'm gonna come down your pipe."

3 comments:

Victor said...

So, a paranoid network, run by a paranoid executive, is paranoid about President Obama shutting them down.
Color me, NOT surprised.

As for Unibrow Hand-puppety, unless I'm mistaken, FOX is on the PUBLIC airwaves, and there are at least some rules that need to be followed.

Informing the public is not, I'll grant you, your strong suit at FOX.
Incendiary BS is.
And inflaming the morons who watch that idiotic network, many of them armed and self-proclaimed uber-patriots, will not lead to anything remotely good.

I still worry about President Obama's life every day. And, every morning when I wake up, I check to see if anyone has shot him yet.
Because, between FOX, Rush, and the rest of the lunatics on talk radio, the internet, and the Op-ed pages, I fear that day is nigh. If he survives his term, I'll be surprised.

FOX has gone beyond any barriers recently, and is coming awfully close to screaming "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre.
But, Obama knows, if he does anything to FOX, it will inflame the right to the point of explosion.

He's smart. He's letting them lose in the court of public opinion, as more and more of their viewers die off, their hosts age, and more and more people are turning their TV's to another channel.

Why kill a network that's bent on demographic suicide?

Rupe and Rog don't have much longer, on this mortal coil - and I remind myself of that every single day. That, also helps to keep me sane.

RandomThgt said...

Call me crazy, but for some reason, Roger Ailes reminds me of Roy Cohn (not sure who that is? see here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Cohn)....
I don't know that I blame Fox News as much as I blame the boobs that watch them...The morons who actually watch Fox have a choice...And they choose to spend their time listening to that garbage...what a waste of time (that you can NEVER get get back).

Aunt Snow said...

And so, people at home should be afraid because, they say, 'Am I not allowed to watch Fox anymore?

Well, it might work, because Fox viewers are dumb enough and paranoid enough to believe it.