by Bridget Callahan
Roger Ailes was born in 1940, in Warren, Ohio.
If you have never been to Warren, Ohio, then you are probably not a reporter who covered the 2016 election. Warren is near Youngstown, in that belt of dying steel mill towns, so lots of intrepid young soothsayers with MFAs flocked there, before and after the election, to talk about the despair of the “working class” white man, and write essays about talking to “real America.”
Aile’s lifelong war on truth and fact inadvertently led to his hometown being held up by the media as emblematic of the catastrophic 2016 election loss. He is in a school hall of fame there, will be known to history as one of the town’s most famous children, and now he’s also the reason anyone outside of Ohio has heard of Warren at all. Because of Trump voters giving interviews about health-care and lack of regret, so the rest of the country could throw their fear and disdain on them, like sacrificial dunces.
One time, my boyfriend and I were driving around Ohio, as young, bored Clevelanders tend to do on weekends, and we found an abandoned church for sale in Bellevue – a town that is even more despairing to find on your weekend trip than Warren. It was next to a train museum, and we talked about buying it and fixing it up, living there. The asking price was incredibly cheap, 70,000 for a giant sandstone thing with stained glass still in it. The drive home we talked about the feasibility of him working out of Warren, and whether or not I could ever find a job there. The answer was no. The answer is always no. Nobody moved to Warren. You only move away from Warren.
We found out later the reason the church was so cheap was the foundation was complete shit, and the whole thing was falling down slowly and irrevocably, like all of Ohio. When we next saw the church, it had been made into a haunted house. When we next saw the church, it was a home-made looking daycare. American entrepreneurship.
“I only understand friendship or scorched earth.” – Roger Ailes, presumably after murdering a pig at a pig roast.
When Roger Ailes entered the world, quietly, like a strange unholy vapor silently made into form, it was the beginning of World War II, and the biggest industry in Warren was Packard Electric, which made electrical cables and wiring for the military. After World War II, the General Motors Lordstown Assembly Plant was built there.
The GM plant is still open. They make the Chevy Cruze, a ridiculous plastic looking toy car. When you drive by the plant on 80, they have the car models displayed on the roof of the white corrugated steel buildings and beige brick. I never fail to look at the top of the building and wonder how they got the cars up there. Was it a crane? Was there a very big freight elevator? The Chevy Cruze is the car they invented to look like a nice, safe, economical four door. It is reassuringly boring, like a middle management craft beer enthusiast. I have never liked how Chevies look, But that feels very unpatriotic to say out loud.
Even though the GM plant is still there, Warren went for Trump. Probably because it’s still there. They don’t want to lose it. They are in denial of foregone conclusions. They don’t read the right Guardian essays about post-capitalist production. Anyway, that’s why all the reporters went there,’ cause where can you find honest to goodness auto workers anymore?
His dad worked in a factory as a foreman, and got drunk and hit him. His mom was named Donna Mae. One assumes a lot of his attitude towards women was informed by the abuse his mother experienced in front of him. It probably also taught him to tell stories, lies, truth being expendable to survival. If you like reasonable obituaries, stop reading here. Those are the nicest things I will say about him.
Roger had hemophilia, which he most likely inherited from his mother. Hemophilia causes the body to be unable to form blood clots. You will keep bleeding and bleeding, blood everywhere if you get stuck. It is especially dangerous if you hit your head. Hemophilia was also a disease of the European royal families, right before the industrial revolution, as their archaic inherited empires began crumbling in the face of the new corporate empires. Queen Victoria gave hemophilia to her son. Rasputin treated the Tsar’s son for hemophilia. Little Roger stayed home a lot, or in the hospital. He probably didn’t do a lot. He couldn’t. What if he bled out? He went to Ohio University in Athens in the beginning of the sixties, where he was the student manager of the public radio station. Is that where he learned to hate public radio so much? Maybe.
Did you know the bacteria that turns you into a vampire is called Porphyric Hemophilia? When you are bitten, it spreads through your bloodstream in 72 hours.
“They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view. They don’t even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive.” – Roger Ailes, supposedly about NPR, but obviously mostly about Sesame Street.
He moved to Cleveland, land of slag mountains, smokestacks, and bubbling black rivers. He got into a fight with Richard Nixon about the importance of television in future politics. Nixon hired him to make tv ads for his presidential campaign, because Nixon wanted to be cool and wasn’t. And then it was onto the national spotlight, spreading his particular brand of homespun propaganda. Ohio Boy from Warren Makes Good by Starting to Slowly Dismantle Every Advance in Political Ethics Western Civilization Clawed its Way Out of the British Empire With. All American Son of An Asshole Finds a Way to Make Us All Pay.
It went Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr., Bush Jr., and now Trump. Those are all the presidents that Ailes has put in power. A gallery of morons and villains, because he understood that if you throw enough baby blood on the fire, the skeletons will get up and dance on their own. He was a king-maker, if by kings you mean spineless spoiled trust fund worms that chew on the gristle and suck out the needle-peppered veins of the American poor. Which is a fairly accurate definition of king, though of course you would substitute the American poor for the European poor, or the Russian poor, or the African poor, or the Asian poor.
On Oct. 7th, 1996, the internet was nothing, just baby-stepping its way out of chat rooms, and high schoolers didn’t really have cell phones yet unless they were rich or drug dealers. But everyone had cable, even the poor households.
“Television and I grew up together.” – Roger Ailes, maybe referring to that one girl he went to first grade with, who suddenly disappeared after a lightning storm.
On Oct. 7th, 1996, Ailes launched Fox News.
With the infamous ticker – the five second headline
24 Hours a Day from the coffins, no sleep needed
The bright graphics
The shotgun pace
The 20 minute opinion show
Fox Exploding and maybe none of us are paying attention but soon, too soon, it’s 2001 and the towers come falling and the eagles flock. Suddenly there is the TSA and the fake intelligence, photo ops on the decks of battleships with banners proclaiming unfounded victories.
Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck all making love to your mothers with their eyes and sharp fanged smiles every night after dinner. Heretofore rationally minded parents suddenly emailing your friends chain letters about the Boston Marathon Bombing and Obama’s Not a Citizen, and your friends have to rush screaming from living rooms. Facebook fights before facebook fights. The Age of the Hated Liberal, the Liberal Bias, the Mainstream Media Conspiracy. Oh Turn of the Century, how you echo yourself each time, with yellow stained newspapers, wars caused by immoral ambitious seers and gurus armed with paranoia and hate. Ann Coulter. Cornflakes and fraud. The Invasion of Iraq, and in motel rooms we watched the bombs come down, and with every bomb and every school shooting the network grew stronger and stronger, though most of the souls it lived off of were only a few years from death. But they invested in gold, and decorative commemorative plates, and let Sarah Palin have a reality show career.
Women had to watch Sarah Palin become so well known that today in 2017 you all know who that is. That is his fault.
“I hired Sarah Palin because she was hot and got ratings.” – Roger Ailes, definitely lying to himself about the cold-hearted gorgon he saw in her eyes, though “hot” is pretty subjective.
Who, but Fox News, has plunged us into this darkness? Those thin-blooded, pug-nosed shit-eaters and their legion of demi-demons all chomping for fifteen minutes of a fame and a pyramid scheme.
Here are the things I have learned as young woman coming of age in the Fox News Era:
- Women suck. They lie. Political ambition makes them murderers. It’s not their fault, because they are weak creatures who have been led astray by unhappy, frigid, ugly women. They are all happier just getting married, where their lies can be contained. They don’t know what they want, so you have to tell them.
- Wars only exist if you say they exist. If you say they exist, then they do, whether or not they actually do.
- Hypocrisy is an American virtue, and if you call someone out on it, you are unpatriotic.
- People will believe whatever television tells them is true, because they are too lazy to find other sources, and really it’s not laziness, because why waste your time when all the other sources are just lying anyway.
- Old men will never take you seriously unless you are also an old man.
- An American hero is someone who stands by their opinion, no matter how many people are telling them it’s wrong.
- People who aren’t white are inherently unworthy of trust. They must prove themselves.
- Anyone under 25 with a political opinion is being manipulated by the other opposing old white men who are paying them to pretend to care.
- People who know more than you about…anything… are trying to steal your right to pay way too much for basic human services.
- There is not enough for everyone, so we should kill anyone else trying to take it.
- Gay people are all Jews.
- Only trust in gold and guns.
- America is a Christian nation.Others are not welcome, nor do they exist here naturally.
Roger Ailes created this. He gave the con-men a home. He killed the oxen, and left their blood for the gods, drew a world in white power red outline, and because of him, no one knows what is happening around them anymore. In retrospect, though his serial harassment and abuse of women is heinous, his selling of the truth to mercenaries, his systematic breakdown of any faith in news reporting is actually what he should have been put up against the wall for. He is, was, a war criminal. Two generations, me and my own, have been raised struggling for decent reality like air. Finding ourselves now hooked up to IVs of memes and pinterest prayers. Two generations robbed of the compassion and wisdom of their elders like we’re a herd of elephants, and Ailes just poached off all the aging adults for the ivory in their tusks. Promising them righteousness before the harvest. Fragile, scared, impressionable people. Turning on each other like rats. Now they’re all going to die alone without health insurance and so will I and so will you.
“If you have two guys on a stage and one guy says, ‘I have a solution to the Middle East problem,’ and the other guy falls in the orchestra pit, who do you think is going to be on the evening news?” – Roger Ailes, shopping for an orchestra pit.
Last week, Roger Ailes, lifelong hemophiliac, fell and hit his head. A week later, yesterday, he died. The women, men, and children of Warren, Ohio, the United States, and the Planet Earth are worse off because of him. People have died because of him. A nation has been put in the hands of an 80’s villain with soft teeth. He is preceded in death by not enough of his cohorts. Someone deliver a mountain of salt to his grave, and we will scorch the earth. May his ghost bleed forever in Tartarus, while the sky and sea move on above him, without him.