Republicans rattled by fall of Roger Ailes, party’s wizard behind the curtain

Republicans rattled by fall of Roger Ailes, party’s wizard behind the curtain, by Edward Luce. This guy has been very important to non-PC politics in the USA, but is being evicted from Fox News, which he created, on dubious charges of sexual harassment. This could have major political implications.

Felled by sexual harassment allegations from a former Fox anchor, the news channel’s departing creator is no household name. Yet Mr Ailes has played wizard behind the curtain to more than two generations of Republican presidential candidates, conservative pundits and intellectuals. He is the creator and destroyer of ambitions – the Shiva of US conservatism. Without Mr Ailes, Rupert Murdoch would have been a far less potent figure on the US scene. …

Roger Ailes

Mr Ailes came from a blue-collar background – his father was a factory foreman in Ohio. He has described his upbringing as “God, country, family”. Those small-town values have always driven his politics. But his genius as a media figure and political consultant was built on something deeper: a psychological insight into middle America’s profound resentment of urban liberal elites. …

But it was only with the launch of Fox News, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in October, that Mr Ailes began altering the contours of the US political landscape.

Some compare Fox’s influence to Rush Limbaugh’s daily talk radio show, or Matt Drudge’s website the Drudge Report. But Fox’s ability to dictate mainstream opinion is far greater than that. At $US1 billion in annual profits, Fox News makes more money than all the other cable TV and network news channels combined. No channel can make or break a presidential hopeful like Fox. Candidates launch their bids from Fox studios and earn their keep in between elections as paid Fox contributors. Among others, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, John Kasich and Mr Guiliani have all been employed by Fox.

Murdoch’s fight to retain Fox News talent, by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson and Anna Nicolaou.

The Murdoch family is pushing to prevent Roger Ailes from leading a walkout of primetime talent at Fox News as they haggle over the terms of an exit that could pay the former Richard Nixon adviser $40m, according to people briefed on the negotiations….

The three family members, who hold the top roles at parent company 21st Century Fox, are “in lockstep” on the need for the 76-year-old to leave, two people said, adding that any pay-off would be conditional on him signing non-compete and no-poaching agreements. …

The risk of a walkout of top talent from US conservatives’ favourite television brand was highlighted late on Tuesday when Breitbart, the conservative website, cited an unnamed anchor as saying that “all of Fox News’ primetime line-up” would leave if Mr Ailes were pushed out.