They were out there, Roger Ailes always knew that. If he could find them and entice them, he would change television in America.
He began to sense their presence and their needs in the early 1990s.
The three major network television corporations, ABC, CBS, and NBC, were losing audiences to the new cable and satellite systems offering bundles of new channels. In 1993 NBC, moving into that space, appointed Ailes president of CNBC, its new business channel.
It was a shrewd move, if somewhat risky. Ailes had a reputation as the country’s smartest political black ops practitioner. He had been a highly valued aide to Richard Nixon and an architect of the Republican strategy in the South of appealing to “Negrophobe whites” without staining Nixon as a racist.
NBC was not a natural host for someone as cynical and unscrupulous as Ailes. It was run by men who saw the impartial delivery of news as a sacred mission. And network television abided by a code of standards and practices handed down by the Federal Communications Commission, reflecting a kind of Norman Rockwell view of American values and tastes that television should continue to safeguard (to this day still requiring that everyday four-letter words should be bleeped).
Ailes had a different take on the news. He felt that tabloid journalism was shaking up newspapers and magazines and delivering a far more realistic (and sensational) picture of America in the last decade of the 20th century. Read more..