A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Dearth of Liberal Satire

Summer approaches, and those of us who lean towards the liberal end of the culture are coming to terms with a dearth of liberal satire. Consider this:  Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau has put his cartoon on hiatus while he works on another project. The Daily Show anchor Jon Stewart has vacated his desk temporarily while he also pursues another project. I wish them both well and hope that they will return to their day jobs soon.

What to do in the meantime? Watch old reruns of Monty Python for hours on end? Choose such icons as Will Rogers and Robert Benchley for our summer reading lists? Or exercise our right to free speech and blog about stupid things conservatives do? I’ll choose number three and I accept the challenge to fill some of the void left by Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Stewart.

And what better way to kick off our Summer of Satire with a Salute to Roger Ailes! (Wow!  You didn’t see that one coming, did you?)

First, some biographical background courtesy of Wikipedia. Ailes has worked in television since the 60s when he rose from property assistant to executive producer of Philadelphia KYW-TV’s The Mike Douglas Show. A “spirited discussion” with show guest Richard Nixon about politics on television led to Ailes becoming Nixon’s Executive Producer of TV. This led to Ailes becoming a political consultant for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Rudy Giuliani. He brought radio personality Rush Limbaugh to television and moved back into television production in the 90s to head news network CNBC. Ailes left CNBC when it merged with Microsoft and, at the invitation of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, created Fox News. 
Needless to say, television journalism has not been the same since.

In recent weeks, Ailes’ reputation has taken a hit. Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Alter's recently released book, The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies, highlights some of Ailes’ personal idiosyncrasies. According to Alter, Ailes has at one time or another retreated to a broom closet because he believed that Fox News headquarters was bugged; tried to bomb proof his office to protect him from attacks from the gay community; tried to have a Muslim-looking man thrown out of headquarters (the man turned out to be a janitor); and insists that his associates hate him because he is fat.

So it turns out that Ailes, arguably one of the most powerful media people in western civilization, is deeply paranoid and perhaps delusional. This explains a lot of the way Fox News covers the world.

Oh, did I say this was a salute to Roger Ailes? Perhaps my use of the word salute was misleading. I should point out in my defense that the word salute also appeared in the same sentence with the word satire. I apologize for any misunderstanding.

The broom closet and bomb proofing anecdotes (both refuted by Ailes) would lead one to believe that while Ailes may not have founded the tin foil hat brigade, he might have a nice collection of the metallic chapeaus on his own. Another anecdote from the book states that even his boss, Rupert Murdoch, considers Ailes “nuts”, but also admits that he finds his underling “amusing”. I am so happy to hear that Murdoch keeps Ailes around for laughs, but does that justify making the rest of us suffer for what Ailes considers journalism.

The ejection of the Muslim-looking man from the Fox News headquarters reeks of Joseph McCarthy style profiling. As far as hating him because he’s fat, well, he may have something there. After all, do we loathe Santa Claus because he is an obese, sweaty, poster child for diabetes, or do we love him because he brings us gifts? I don’t know that we as a society necessarily abhor fat people (in the interest of full disclosure I would be considered by the medical community at large as somewhere between very fat and morbidly obese), but on the other hand there is societal emphasis on being slim, slimmer, and skeletal. No, Mr. Ailes, we don’t hate you because you’re fat, but don’t get us started on Sydney Greenstreet.

Liberal commentators, who are taking a vacation this summer, only criticize Ailes because of his delusions about broadcast journalism. Okay, so there is something about his paranoia that makes him seem adorable to his boss, but still would it be too hard to actually put fairness and actual balance in a news organization that brags about being fair and balanced? I wouldn’t think so, but then again I don’t believe I am delusional.

(Thank you for reading. Look out behind you, Mr. Ailes! It’s the black helicopters! Ha, ha! Just kidding! I couldn’t resist teasing him!)


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