Roger Ailes, Dead – Some Thoughts!
For those of us who communicate in the public sphere about this and that, the passing of a person of less than sterling character presents many challenges. Deeply held beliefs about basic decency bump up against the need to be candid about a life lived poorly, especially when the decedent harmed many among us.
The passing of Justice Antonin Scalia brought those challenges into focus. On February 14, 2016, less than a day after Justice Scalia died, I posted Scalia – Thoughts about First Reactions!, in which I focused on the very issue mentioned in the preceding paragraph. (I found some comments about Justice Scalia truly offensive.) Four days later, I shared Justice Antonin Scalia. There, I think I was respectful, but I was far from kind.
All of which leads me to the passing, earlier today, of Roger Ailes. Apparently, he fell and hit his head several days ago. The medical examiner in Palm Beach, FL, attributes his death to a subdural hematoma, aggravated by his being a hemophiliac. (More, later, on that last part.)
Well, heck! I was readying myself for the research to support my thesis that we can draw a straight line from Mr. Ailes, circa 1996 when he started Fox News for the King of Dark, Rupert Murdoch, to our banana republic, failed state-like status in the late spring of 2017. And there was my piece, already written by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone: Roger Ailes Was One of the Worst Americans Ever. (Mr. Taibbi is a great writer. Fearless. Funny. Smart. Read the piece!)
Reasonable minds can differ about placement on the Worst Americans list, as between Mr. Ailes and Mr. Murdoch. Mr. Murdoch has polish and panache. He might even have within him the wherewithal to have been embarrassed by Mr. Ailes’ despicable treatment of women. On the other hand, while Mr. Ailes made tens of millions of dollars or more, pandering to and dumbing down the minds of too many Americans, Mr. Murdoch made hundreds of millions of dollars or more, letting Mr. Ailes do his bidding.
The old adage, “never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel,” comes to mind here. I think Justice Scalia’s work on the U.S. Supreme Court harmed our country greatly. (The analysis can start and end with District of Columbia v. Heller, No. 07-290, the opinion in which he found in the Second Amendment, contrary to precedent and good historical analysis, a personal right to bear arms. Alas, he did so much more.) Still, he was a piker compared to Ailes and his patron saint, Murdoch. They used 21st century ink, aka cable and the Internet, and with it their footprint makes what Justice Scalia left behind look like dust in the wind.
So about that hemophilia thing. Mr. Ailes and Fox News made a fortune ginning up opposition to the Affordable Care Act and the Other—Barack Obama—who moved it forward. And at its core the ACA gave millions of people with pre-existing conditions—including me—access to affordable health insurance.
Less than three weeks ago, a Fox News, Tea Party creation—Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Ala.)—shared his view of the replacement for the ACA, and how it will deal with pre-existing conditions:
My understanding is that (the new proposal) will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool. That helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy. And right now, those are the people—who’ve done things the right way—that are seeing their costs skyrocketing.
Hemophiliacs bleed internally. It’s a severe, debilitating, and sometimes deadly pre-existing condition. Its cause? Genetics, plain and simple. Good and bad people suffer from it. Really!
I suspect I don’t need to draw any lines to connect any dots here. Right?
Every life is precious, in some way for some people. I hope those people who loved and treasured Roger Ailes find comfort in whatever fond memories they have. For me, nothing remotely close to good comes to mind, but for the pleasure of knowing Mr. Ailes lived long enough to fall off his throne, and that on the way down his accusers got to say their piece and know he heard them.