They say that one ought not speak ill of the dead, but in the case of Roger Ailes that would leave little to say. Ailes wrested conservatism away from intellectuals like George Will, who at minimum based their views on a coherent body of deliberate thought, and replaced it with a conservatism based on hatred, anger, and mistrust of one’s fellow Americans. His fire-breathing network, Fox News, boiled over with loathing of the left, prejudice against minorities, anger toward the poor, distrust of journalists, and contempt for academics.
Ailes reassured racists that it was really the victims of racism who were the bigots. He reassured those who based their politics on emotional reactions that they were wiser than those who based their politics on reasoning and thought. He replaced journalism based on factual information with a brand of journalism based on what we now call “alternative facts” — that is, untruths designed to play to the prejudices of his target audience.
In the end, Ailes did a great deal of damage to our political discourse and to the moral fabric of our nation. It may take generations to repair what he has wrought. But in the process he made a great deal of money, which is what one might reasonably suppose was his principal goal from the outset.