There was a great synchronicity in the Cable Tee Vee Firmament this week. As Jon Stewart stopped climbing Bullsh*t Mountain, an avalanche called Donald J. Trump proved — once and for all — that “Fair and Balanced” is nothing but an empty slogan covering for all the other lies Fox “News” tells. Adding to the schadenfreude on the Left? Trump is the Frankenstein monster built in the birther boardroom of the Fox “News” Channel.
When carpetbagger Rupert Murdoch launched Fox “News” in 1996, he put Roger Ailes at the helm. No stranger to propaganda, Ailes helped change the public perception of Richard Milhous Nixon from paranoid loser to POTUS. Later, Ailes took George Herbert Walker Bush from Iran-Contra wimp to a single term in the Oval Office, in what is still considered the dirtiest election in recent memory. [See: Lee Atwater] When Mr. GOP Propaganda helped launch the Fox “News” Channel, his greatest achievement was trademarking the empty slogan “Fair and Balanced.,” However, only its brain-dead viewers ever really believed it. The thinking world took it for what it really is: the modern-day battle cry of Nixon’s Silent Majority. Now with its own megaphone, it is silent no more.
Dr. Frankenstein built his monster from various spare parts from graveyards. Fox “News” did the same. It resurrected old slights on the Right, found festering in the fetid swamps where low-information viewers denigrate facts as fancy book larnin’. That the typical Fox “News” viewer can both believe the canard that only Fox “News” is the antidote to the Left Wing Media and the empty slogan “Fair and Balanced” is all the proof one needs to demonstrate cognitive dissonance is alive and well on the Right.
Once Fox identified the torch and pitchfork villagers, it could start building the Monster resentment by resentment. When George “Mission Accomplished” Bush took the country into a war based on faulty intelligence, Fox “News” thumped the tub for war. Anyone who disagreed was trashed. [See: Phil Donahue, Dixie Chicks, et al.] When the angry villagers morphed into the Tea Party, Fox “News was its biggest cheerleader – LITERALLY – sending its reporters on the Tea Party Express to rallies across the Fatherland, err, homeland. When Tea Party Patriots [an oxymoronic term if there ever was one] interrupted Democratic Town Hall meetings, the Fox audience cheered as if it were the Second Coming of Democracy as espoused by The Founding Fathers™, or Jesus Christ, I forget which.
These spare parts do not a whole Monster make. Fox “News” also played upon the testosterone-induced fears of the ‘Merkin Male, with a years-long campaign against the Wussification of ‘Merka. Fold into this dangerous mix multiple attacks on Political Correctness and you’ve created the perfect amino acid soup in which any lightening spark could lead to creating a lifeform, sentient or not.
Which leads inexorably to Donald J. Trump’s support, sentient or not.
The Donald did not just spring fully-formed from his father’s inheritance, of course. He had decades of shameless self-promotion and reality shows behind him before Fox “News” gave him a Monday morning perch on the Curvy Couch, where he could promote his birtherism and previously phony presidential runs. Trump literally phoned it in. Whether he was in his pajamas or not, he always managed to spout the Fox “News” Meme Du Jour, while channeling the Ugly Id of the Ugly ‘Merkin, sitting at home in their pajamas.
Somewhere along the line 2 weird things happened: Donald Trump started to believe his own BS and Roger Ailes forgot that once the Monster gets loose, it turns on its Master.
No one ever expected Donald Trump to finally make good on his repeated threat to run for POTUS, least of all Roger Ailes. No one could have predicted that Trump’s incendiary Mexican slurs, and his attacks on the military career of previously sacrosanct John McCain, would rally the Right Wing Nut Jobs. It could be reduced to a bumper sticker: TRUMP ’16 – Rude As I Wanna Be!
I can imagine the panicked boardroom meetings leading up to the Republican Debates: “Trump is leading in the polls? How do we sink that braying jackass in a ‘Fair and Balanced’ way? I got it! We’ve already written the GOP debate rules. Now we’ll let our newest rising star Megyn Kelly take him down a peg or two.”
That’s when a mostly covert internecine war between Fox Factions broke out in the open. However those paying attention (like moi) saw the beginning of these fractures a few months back. It started on The Five when Dana “Butter-Wouldn’t-Melt-In-Her-Mouth” Perino took a back-handed swipe at Eric Bolling for kissing The Donald’s ass to try to get on The Apprentice. The sniping between her supporters and those of Bully Boy Bolling started immediately, and has yet to abate.
When Ailes unleashed Kelly on Trump, he badly misread the Tea Party leaves. Viewers took sides immediately, against Leggy Meggy, with Trump piling on in the only way he knows how: ugly.
However, Trump also miscalculated. Ailes is resolved not to allow the Grand Orangutan Personality [GOP?] destroy everything he’s taken nearly 20 years to build: A Perpetual Motion Republican Outrage and Propaganda Machine™.
When Trump demanded an apology from Kelly, Ailes was, by accounts, apoplectic. As CNN’s Brian Stelter writes:
“This was the final straw for Roger,” according to a source close to the situation.
Ailes’ office called Trump’s office. We “can resolve this now,” Ailes said to Trump, “or we can go to war.”
As we all know by now, war was averted. There is mutual respect between the two master negotiators. Trump has stopped criticizing Kelly. And Fox has stopped ignoring Trump on its shows.
But if this is a truce, it’s a tenuous one. In recent days Trump loyalists have leaked unflattering claims about Ailes, and Fox staffers have privately likened Trump to a crazy person.
And, there was peace in the valley, except for one thing: Go to any Fox “News” thread on any social medium you can name. Note how there are now several distinct Fox “News” factions: 1). Those who continue to believe in the “Fair and Balanced” slogan despite recent evidence to the contrary; 2). Those who now see through the slogan because Megyn Kelly was merely doing the Fox “News” dirty work of the higher-ups; 3). Those who support Donald Trump because he says what they’re afraid to say aloud; and 4). Those who think Megyn Kelly is getting a raw deal at the hands of Donald Trump Misogynists and the Fox “News” suits who sent her into battle before throwing her under the bus.
Which is why a headline like Megyn Kelly Is Going On Vacation After Igniting Donald Trump Feud is no surprise at all.
Headly Westerfield is a keen chronicler of Fox “News” tomfoolery and shenanigans.