Ailes Out?

05/25/2011 12:35 pm ET
  • Charles Warner Blogger at Media; Teacher at The New School, NYU

I had lunch last week with a good friend who is wired into the media business, and the first thing he asked me when we sat down was, "Have you heard that Roger Ailes is out at FOX?"

"No, I haven't heard a thing, " I said, "but it makes sense. Murdoch is no dummy and he sees the shift in the country's tastes and mood."

Before Super Tuesday's New York State's primary, the tone-deaf New York Times endorsed Hillary Clinton, and Murdoch's normally conservative, Republican New York Post endorsed Barack Obama. Last week when Kara Swisher, at the All Things Digital conference, asked Murdoch if he had anything to do with the Post's endorsement and he replied, "yes."

Is Rupert Murdoch making a left turn after 50 years of being a staunch conservative? Hardly. The wily Murdoch is the ultimate pragmatist. He sees that the country is fed up with the Bush-Cheney-Rove war, corruption, big-business favoritism, neo-conservative idealism, and economic incompetence. He sees the polls that Bush is one of the most unpopular presidents in history. And, simultaneously, he understands that the country is fed up with the Bush-Cheney-Rove apologists, racists, and anti-feminist FOX News, which made the ultimate blunder in hiring Karl Rove. It would have done better putting a swastika as a backdrop.

FOX News, which Roger Ailes created and still heads, has had its run, as has George Bush, but like all entertainment programming, FOX News's novelty and divisive personalities have worn thin and people want (yes that word again) change.

Last Tuesday night, when the results of the last three primaries were announced, CNN won the ratings and MSBNC, usually a bad third, came in second, barely edging out FOX News, which was third. It's clear, at least for election coverage, that viewers prefer CNN to FOX News.

Also, there have been times when the liberal Keith Olbermann on MSNBC has achieved higher ratings than Bill O'Reilly on FOX News. O'Reilly's on-camera rant, viewed several millions times on YouTube, further damaged O'Reilly's image and reinforced what a nasty dummy he really is -- what Stephen Colbert has been satirizing brilliantly for several years. It's all catching up with Bad Bill and Phony FOX.

And that's just FOX News. Alies also created and is responsible for FOX Business News, which is a tasteless, embarrassing train wreck. Murdoch should fire Ailes for allowing FOX Business News -- known in the business as FOX Bimbo News -- to go on the air, to say nothing about letting FOX News deteriorate into being the brunt of jokes.

If Roger Ailes was fired and FOX News went off the air, what would Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann, and other comedians have to make fun of? Murdoch must be getting tired of it. I think he might see the need for change not only in the country but also in his cable news networks.