DIVIDE AND CONQUER: THE STORY OF ROGER AILES sheds light on the current moment in American political life by following the arc of Roger Ailes: long-time Republican svengali and controversial founder of Fox News.
By coaching an unrivaled stable of politicians over the course of fifty years, Ailes heavily influenced Republican politics, steering the conservative movement from Nixon, to the Tea Party, to Trump. Under his tutelage, anger and fear became the coin of the realm, both on the ballot and on national television. Diagnosed with hemophilia at an early age, it took someone intimate with fear to skillfully manipulate the fear of others.
With Rupert Murdoch behind him, Roger Ailes started Fox News and turned it into a money-making juggernaut, with profits exceeding those of all its rivals combined. He discarded notions of traditional journalism and turned prime time television into flame-throwing TV. Short skirts and low necklines mesmerized his audience and, as long as Fox made money, there was little oversight of his fiefdom. But the carnival house mirror Ailes put up to America reflected his own distorted personal life.
This is a story of serial cruelty, both on the public stage and in private life. Like a true Shakespearean figure, ambition and desire were Ailes’ undoing. He was finally toppled when victims of his sexual harassment stepped forward. The accounts of these women—raw and infuriating—are the axis around which Ailes’ story inexorably turns