Swamp Rabbit was replacing a plank on the front porch of my shack while I read aloud from Jane Mayer’s comprehensive takedown of Fox News:
…As the President has been beset by scandals, congressional hearings, and even talk of impeachment, Fox has been both his shield and his sword. The White House and Fox interact so seamlessly that it can be hard to determine, during a particular news cycle, which one is following the other’s lead…
“Ain’t technology grand?” the rabbit said. “Who knew back in the day we’d have a president who tweeted Fox News stories like they were gospel? Who knew what a tweet was?”
Mayer noted in her lengthy article that 88-year-old Aussie billionaire Rupert Murdoch launched the Fox television network in the 1990s and hired Roger Ailes to create for it a conservative news station that would mimic his “unapologetically lowbrow” tabloids. Under Ailes, Fox and its talking heads perfected a hatefully paranoid style that won the hearts and minds of poorly educated, anti-elitist white people all over the country.
Swamp Rabbit hammered a nail through the new plank and into a crossbeam. “The best part of the article is where Mayer explains that Murdoch helped turn Trump into a tabloid star forty-some years ago, even though he knew Trump was an idiot.”
I disagreed. “The best part is where Mayer says Murdoch unknowingly invented Trump’s base. He didn’t like it when Trump ran for president, but Fox viewers did.”
Ailes had been wary of cozying up to candidate Trump and had reportedly told Murdoch, “Trump gets great ratings, but if you’re not careful he’s going to end up totally controlling Fox News.”
But Murdoch eventually warmed up to the idea of a President Trump, especially after Ailes was forced out of the picture (sexual harassment allegations). A source told Mayer, “[Murdoch has] always wanted to have a relationship with a President — he’s a businessman and he sees benefits of having a chief of state doing your bidding.”
So is Trump a useful idiot for Murdoch, or has Murdoch merely fooled himself into thinking this is so? Which of these ugly old white men is the true master of the right-wing media universe?
“What’s it to you?” the rabbit said after driving another nail into the porch floor. “Ain’t neither of them chumps gonna help you get this shack back in shape.”
Footnote: Life is less dreary in the movies. My idea of a media mogul is Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane — a charming and dynamic dreamer who wanted to save the world until he was corrupted by power. The real-life Kane is Murdoch, a cold-blooded money counter who, like Trump, is (in Mayer’s words) “devoid of almost any ideology besides self-interest.”