Quote of the Day postsTuesday January 21, 2014
Quote of the Day
“How many poor red state voters are prepared to die before their time to make an ideological point?”
-- Andrew Sullivan, referencing Jonathan Cohn's New Republic piece on which states are enrolling residents in the Affordable Care Act by percentage of total eligible population (“How Red States are Holding Back Obamacare”). The top seven are blue states, including Washington state at No. 2, while five of the bottom seven are red states. (Massachusetts, at the very bottom, already has its Obamacare.) Basically, according to Cohn, blue-state governors are making it easier for residents to enroll, red-state governors not so much.
Quote of the Day
“I didn't know you were allowed to do that.”
-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez's reaction to first reading Franz Kafka's “Metamorphisis.” It's also how Errol Morris felt when seeing Joshua Oppenheimer's documentary “The Act of Killing.” It's also how I felt—two times, nearly two decades apart—watching the movies of Quentin Tarantino.
Franz Kafka at 22.
Quote of the Day
“Character is destiny, and politicians usually get the scandals they deserve, with a sense of inevitability about them. Warren G. Harding surrounded himself with corrupt pols and businessmen, then checked out, leading to the most sensational case of bribery in American history. Ronald Reagan combined zealotry and fantasy, and Oliver North acted them out. Bill Clinton was libidinous and truth-parsing but also cautious, while George W. Bush was an incurious crusader who believed himself chosen by God and drove almost the entire national-security establishment into lawlessness without thinking twice. Christie, more than any of these, is reminiscent of the President whose petty hatefulness destroyed him—which is why, as NBC’s newscaster said when signing off on an early report on that long-ago burglary, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this.”
-- George Packer, “The Trouble with Christe” in The New Yorker, expertly parsing the political scandals of the last 100 years.
Roger Ailes and a Soundtrack of Barnyard Animals, Bleating
Here are a few quotes, and a few thoughts, on “Bad News,” Jill LePore's New Yorker piece on FOX News president Roger Ailes, as Gabriel Sherman's tell-all book, “The Loudest Voice in the Room,” gets ready to go on sale:
Roger Ailes was born in Warren, Ohio, in 1940. He has hemophilia, which didn’t stop his father from beating him with an electrical cord. A story Ailes has told—“his Rosebud story,” according to Stephen Rosenfield, who worked with Ailes in the nineteen-seventies—is about a lesson he learned in his bedroom as a boy. His father, holding out his arms, told him to jump off the top bunk and then deliberately failed to catch him, saying, “Don’t ever trust anybody.”
Ailes became a wunderkind producer of “The Mike Douglas Show,” met Nixon in '67, helped him get elected in '68, etc., etc. Then we get this:
In the nineteen-eighties, Ailes’s politics grew more conservative, as did the G.O.P. Between 1980 and 1986, Ailes helped get thirteen Republican senators and eight members of Congress elected, including Dan Quayle and Mitch McConnell. He also played a crucial role in the Presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. He urged Reagan to disarm Walter Mondale in debate by promising not to make age an issue. “I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience,” Reagan said. Ailes calmed Bush’s nerves before his first debate against Michael Dukakis. “If you get in trouble out there, just call him an animal fucker,” Ailes whispered. According to a team of reporters from Newsweek, Ailes had proposed an ad, which never ran, called “Bestiality.” It would have featured a screen of text—“In 1970, Governor Michael Dukakis introduced legislation in Massachusetts to repeal the ban on sodomy and bestiality”—shown over a soundtrack of barnyard animals, bleating.
The brunt of the piece is comparing Ailes to yellow journalist (and inspiration for Charles Foster Kane) William Randoph Hearst, who was often accused of being a Fascist. (LePore: “This charge derived, in part, from the fact that Hearst had professed his admiration for Hitler and Mussolini.”) In the 1930s, Hearst tried to preempt an unauthorized, negative biography with the authorized postive kind, just as Ailes is doing today. LePore, a history professor at Yale, thinks this is pointless since history will decide. But she also thinks it's pointless to attack Ailes as it was to attack Hearst. The problem isn't Ailes' FOX; it's the people who watch Ailes' FOX.
“The audience he craves he also hates,” LePore says of Kane, which could also mean Hearst, which could also mean Ailes. It's not a bad avenue of exploration for FOX haters. At the least, there is in the typical FOX line a condemnation of its audience, most of whom, after all, aren't millionaires or job creators. They're people watching TV in the middle of the day.
LePore reminds us that Ailes might not be doing his cause any good, either. During the heyday of the FCC's Fairness Doctrine, Republicans won 7 of 10 presidential elections, but since its repeal by Reagan's anti-regulation forces in 1987, and the rise of Rush Limbaugh and FOX-News and et al., they've gone 3-4.
“I left politics a number of years ago,” Roger Ailes said when he took over FOX in 1996. “We expect to do fine, balanced journalism.”
Quote of the Day
I've had this in the queue for a long time:
The first time I ever heard the word “content” used in its current context, I understood that all my artist friends and I — henceforth, “content providers” — were essentially extinct. This contemptuous coinage is predicated on the assumption that it’s the delivery system that matters, relegating what used to be called “art” — writing, music, film, photography, illustration — to the status of filler, stuff to stick between banner ads.
Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.
--Tim Kreider, “Slaves of the Internet, Unite!” in The New York Times, Oct. 27, 2013.
Yep, yep, yep. Yet here I am. But only because I can afford to be. For the moment.
Twitter: @ErikLundegaardTweets by @ErikLundegaard