Not surprisingly, Matt Taibbi was all over the death of Roger Ailes in Rolling Stone. The headline of his malediction for the erstwhile lizard brain behind Fox News read:
Roger Ailes Was One of the Worst Americans Ever
I’ll restrict my list to the 20th and 21st centuries and lump him in with the likes of Andrew Breitbart, J. Edgar Hoover, George Wallace, Joe McCarthy, and Fr. Coughlin. And let’s not forget our current Leader of the Free World.
Dick Nixon and Henry Kissinger don’t even make the cut anymore. Just goes to show how prolific our holy land’s archfiend-producing machine has been the last few decades.
Here’s Taibbi’s money-quote:
We are a hate-filled, paranoid, untrusting, book-dumb and bilious people whose chief source of recreation is slinging insults and threats at each other online, and we’re that way in large part because of the hyper-divisive media environment he discovered.
The key word therein is discovered. Ailes didn’t create the hate. He only stumbled on the dumb. This great nation since its inception has been home to a significant swath of the pop. that is giddy to remain uninformed, incurious, suspicious, and utterly self-involved.
Decades ago, though, the media gatekeepers heard the bleatings of the unwashed, sure, but when it came time to disseminate news and opinion they rightly declared, Sorry, Earl, we don’t have time or space for your griping and whining. Editors and producers, academicians and arbiters all could dip into a deep barrel of writings and pontifications, straight from the minds of people who actually read books and knew, for instance, who Hume or Faraday or Titian or even Moe Berg were.
Now, before we get carried away and award those gatekeepers the legion of merit medal, keep in mind they stood on their heads to silence those who had familiarity with the likes of Homer Plessy, Mother Jones, or the patrons of Stonewall.
But they did do a bit of good in that they ignored the squawkings from the sticks. The proudly illiterate could grouse among themselves from cockcrow to bedtime and that steady 35 percent of American humanity would vote their arid consciences but have relatively little to do with the outcome of national elections. Yeah, they installed Bull Connor and Orval Faubus as leaders of their respective hinterlands but those two, as well as their constituencies, were viewed as outliers by the cognoscenti. They were embarrassments, obstacles to be overcome by the more enlightened among us. And as time elapsed, Connor, Faubus et al were ousted and humiliated. They were relegated to the garbage can of history.
Good for us.
The whole system worked — if glacially — until the invention of the internet. Suddenly, every dumb bastard who could pay his Comcast bill had a forum. A big forum. Conceivably, anywhere from two people to several hundred million, even a billion, could access the twisted calculations of one who, just a couple of years prior, only could bend the ear of the sot on the barstool next to him.
There were no more gatekeepers.
And if blacks, lesbians, Muslims, socialists, satanists, and any other previously sequestered gang at last could shout, Whee, me!, so too could friends of the KKK, bullies who repressed their homosexual curiosities to savage ends, and tinfoil hat wearers.
Where blacks, lesbians, Muslims, socialists, satanists, and other previously sequestered gangs too often found themselves at odds with each other over minutiae, the racists and the homophobes, the wife beaters and the true believers seemed somehow to coalesce far more easily.
Roger Ailes tapped into that. He gave the haters, the criminally stupid, and the willingly unschooled an imprimatur.
Somehow, now, with Roger Ailes’ blessing and help, that 35 percent owns much — maybe even most — of this holy land.
Wash & Listen
Okay, so you missed yesterday’s Big Talk with Mohammed A. Mahdi and Anthony Duncan, two of the three minds behind the Soapy Soap Company. Never fear. Here’s the link to Thursday’s Daily Local News feature on WFHB, 91.3FM, and here’s one to the full-length original interview with them.
As for next week’s guests, being that it’s Friday already, I’m just starting to panic. No one’s on the hook just yet. Never fear, though. I always come through (I hope).
The Black Angel’s Death Song