29 July 2016
We publish the review that Jim Sleeper wrote in 2013 for the Columbia Journalism Review on Zev Chafets’s book Roger Ailes Off Camera. When I published Liberal Racism in 1997 (with a chapter on how The New York Times was misrepresenting racial politics under editorial-page editor Howell Raines), I was interviewed on Fox News, which I’d barely heard of, by Bill O’Reilly, whom I hadn’t heard of at all. The encounter was anodyne, but before long I noticed that the network was not. Under its president Roger Ailes, who had pitched his vision of Fox to a receptive Rupert Murdoch only a year before I met O’Reilly, it was rapidly becoming what Zev Chafets calls “transformational” in American media and political culture. By treating journalism as if it’s all about ratings and show, Fox actually makes a profoundly political statement by eviscerating what democratic politics really stands for.