Could the Republican Party be engulfed in more chaos? Between the daily gaffes of its nominee -- from inviting Russian intelligence to interfere with our American election, to picking a fight with the Gold Star family of a fallen hero -- and the in-fighting, polarization and loss of prestige that resulted in a massive no-show by past presidents and presidential candidates at the convention (and the boos that greeted the candidate who did show), it's hard to imagine how the one-time party of Lincoln could slide further into the muck.
But in the midst of the RNC drama, a truly YUUUGE piece of news has been pretty much sidelined. It concerns the firing (with a $40 million parachute of course!) of Roger Ailes from the Republican cable news channel, Fox News.
For over 20 years, Mr Ailes, the head of Fox News (owned by the inimitable Rupert Murdoch) has allegedly been soliciting sexual favors from many of his female cast of employees. Roger's Angels was the name given to these hires by those who knew of Ailes' penchant for approaching attractive young women and hiring them -- on conditions of course. 25 women have come forward to claim not only on Ailes' misdeeds but on a "pervasive" sexist atmosphere at Fox News wherein other male employees also imitated the predatory antics of their boss. Ailes reportedly would require his chosen "angels" to dance and then confiscate videos of their performance for safe keeping (and back-up for his power threats).
Ailes has been called "the most powerful man in American media", and I guess this is one way he proves it. We all know how he bullied victims or intended victims of government by his use and abuse of the media to spread lies and stroke fear, to ignite racism ("Obama was not an American citizen since he was born in Kenya") and interfere with the governing of the country (resist any proposal made by the president) -- but that he was also, on the side, allegedly abusing women and using his power of hiring and firing and promoting to keep them quiet and subservient, and setting an atmosphere at work of sexual harassment, is a whole new revelation of the darkness of the man. It makes the indiscretions of ex-Representative Anthony Wiener (D., NY) pale by comparison.
Megyn Kelly reported "unwanted sexual advances" from the man when she was a young correspondent 10 years ago and TV producer Randi Harrison was told by Ailes while negotiating her salary in the 1980s that he would pay her $100 more per week "if you agree to have sex with me whenever I want."
The shocking dimension to all this is that Ailes has been riding high as a kingmaker for the Republican Party throughout his alleged 20-year sexist abuse of women. How culpable is the Republican Party in all this? Did no one know it, hear rumors about it, or bother to investigate? Isn't that what journalists get paid to do -- speak truth to power? And isn't this the group that prides itself on speaking for a "Christian Nation?"
Fox News has made a business of providing free air time to extreme right wing so-called Christians who talk incessantly of "family values" while avoiding preaching anything of the justice and compassion that Jesus preached and who wallow in their own self-righteousness and hatred of anything not fitting into their restricted version of Christianity. So-called proponents of "morality" who espouse wars and capital punishment, homophobia and coddling of the 1 percent and their corporations at the expense of the 99 percent, and who support fossil fuel empires at the expense of God's creation.
Yet the Republican Party sought continuously to stand with Fox News and Fox News with the GOP, and Donald Trump continues to advocate for Ailes and might even receive counsel from Ailes for his own imploding campaign. Isn't this the epitome of hypocrisy both for the Fox News chief and for the Republican Party chiefs? Isn't it interesting that, even as kingmaker Ailes falls to the accusations of the women he allegedly abused, the Republican Party is finally questioning the dubious wisdom in their choice of a "king" who is just a little less unacceptable to their rank and file than Hillary?
So I am wondering: which will disappear first in this cascade of debacles -- Trump? The Republican Party? Or Fox News? Will all three tumble together? Are we witnessing the complete collapse of all things right wing in America?
Roger Ailes was not only the most powerful person in American media who was "retired" with a $40 million pay off; he was also by many accounts a sick and perverted champion of sexism, a hypocrite of the first order, an alleged abuser of women and laws protecting them in the workplace and of course an obedient employee of Rupert Murdoch. As one reporter notes, Ailes "would not exist if not for his corporate patron, Rupert Murdoch" and his "nearly unconditional support."
Murdoch, we should note, has made it his life's work to move politics very, very far right on three continents -- Australia, UK and America -- thanks to his take-no-prisoners television empires where he presents politics as a "blood sport" which made a profit of $1.6 billion at Fox News alone in 2015 and sported better ratings annually than CNN and MSNBC combined. Ailes, who has been characterized as having a "volatile temper and domineering behavior," boasted at the time of the 2012 election that "I want to elect the next president" of the United States. He didn't succeed, but not from lack of trying.
Shouldn't these hysterically "moral" Republican leaders be denouncing Ailes and Murdoch for their hypocrisy if nothing else? Or are they as afraid of that as they are of standing up to the demagogue Donald Trump? If not, Republicans have to prove it by standing up to the sins of sexism and of hypocrisy that blanket their movement and all the blather emanating from good old Fox News. As one reporter notes, this scandal points to a "broader culture of harassment and intimidation in the workplace" at Fox News.
Is this what Fox News means by the "liberal bias" and "political correctness" of the media -- that they do not countenance sexual harassment in their workplace?