Memo To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
The May 20 issue of the New Yorker has a very smart profile of Roger Ailes, the chairman and CEO of FoxNews. It isn’t part of the magazine’s online offerings this week, but I do recommend you locate a copy of the magazine, as Ken Auletta has captured Roger’s skills as a promoter and competitor in the television news world. Almost a year ago, I wrote the following about Roger as I saw how thoroughly he had thrown the resources of the network behind a war with Iraq. I’d know Roger for years, but he did not like my memo on the margin, sending an e-mail that he would no longer appreciate any further communication. In any event, he did get his war.
Aug 26 2002
FoxNews, the War Network
Memo To: Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO, FoxNews
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Let’s Have a War!
Roger, I’m beginning to think that if we check your DNA we would find a fit with the exhumed corpse of William Randolph Hearst. You are absolutely not going to let any other network out-jingo FoxNews. After this week’s rendition of FoxNewsSunday with Tony Snow, I’ve decided to simply label FoxNews the “War Network.” Tony himself somehow manages to stay above the fray, but the rest of the line-up cannot wait to start bombing Iraq, or anyone or anything else that gets in its way. Juan Williams has become the token dove on the show, which means he wants to get rid of Saddam Hussein, but maybe not this week, and with a smart bomb that spares innocent civilians.
Brit Hume, your Washington editor? Forget it, Roger. He has started foaming at the mouth, so eager to send several hundred thousand American troops into a Baghdad cakewalk. When Tony took a vacation day yesterday, Brit had the brass to devote an entire segment to criticisms of the New York Times for running a front-page piece last week about Republican critics of the war. No criticism of a war with Iraq is permitted, he said, except on the editorial page! Heck, Brit is all editorial page. He has not done any reporting for you guys in years, but is spoon fed by the GOP War Party. And who did he arrange to be the chief witness for the prosecution? Paul Gigot, the fledgling editorial-page editor of The Wall Street Journal, who has turned that illustrious space into a bulletin board for Richard Perle, the egomaniac who runs the War Party and has Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dancing on his string. It’s not enough that Gigot gets a regular fee for being a guest commentator on FoxNews, Brit had to invite him to speak as a principle! And all Gigot had to say was, yes Brit, you are right, the NYTimes should not have mentioned on its front page the opinion of Brent Scowcroft that we should not bomb Iraq unless we see it is a genuine threat to someone, somewhere, not maybe several years from now, but now!
You can’t fool me, Roger, as you know I was once part of Perle’s act, when we had a genuine Cold War. I know how he operates. And I know you are only concerned with FoxNews’ ratings and your conviction that people only tune in to FoxNews bigtime when there are bombs falling somewhere. Rupert Murdoch only gives bonuses for big wars! That plays right into Perle’s hands, as he is only too willing to provide big war, in Israel, in Iraq or if (alas) peace breaks out in the Middle East, in China. If the truth be known, Richard was part of the scheme (conspiracy) to unravel the Soviet Union after Mikhail Gorbachev came out with his hands up, and was also a player in busting up the Yugoslav Federation, with enormous human cost. Collateral damage as far as he is concerned, Roger. His miscalculation gave us 9-11, I hope you know, but it was good for FoxNews’ ratings. Peace is boring.
Let me remind you that Dennis Ross, the top FoxNews foreign-policy consultant, is the president of the Washington Institute, a think tank that owes its existence to the right-wing Israelis who also dominate the American Enterprise Institute (where I was once a resident fellow, in the good old Cold War days of the late 1970s). I see Ross wheeled out every time a blow has to be struck against Yasir Arafat and the Palestinians, or a rationale for why it is okay for Ariel Sharon to drop an Israeli daisy-cutter on a Palestinian neighborhood in the Gaza Strip. He was on a few weeks back with Sen. Fred Thompson, the Tennessee Republican who also dances to Perle’s tune. Fred told your viewers that his “worst nightmare” was that the U.N. would get the inspectors back into Iraq, as that would interfere with the bombing. You know, of course, that Fred’s longtime chief of staff, Powell Moore, was whisked into the Pentagon by Perle and Paul Wolfowitz in a senior advisory role in the earliest moments of the Bush administration. Moore and Perle go back to the good old days when Richard worked for the late Scoop Jackson, the hawkish Democrat of Washington State. Moore was press secretary to the late Richard Russell, Democrat of Georgia. All these right-wing Democrats are running around the Bush administration because Richard Perle says so.
Yesterday’s show was a real laugher, Roger. For “intellectual” support, foam-flecked Brit brought in the bloodthirsty Charles Krauthammer, who wanted to bomb the Arabs in the immediate aftermath of 9-11 without even asking why it happened or who was responsible. Then Brit beat the tom-toms for the ill-informed Texan, Rep. Tom DeLay, the House Whip who will be Majority Leader as soon as Dick Armey retires. I say DeLay is “ill-informed” because he only believes what he reads in the Weekly Standard and sees on FoxNews. And sure enough, there was Bill Kristol, editor of the Standard, as usual a guest commentator on the show, insisting that the bombing of Baghdad begin as soon as Ariel Sharon gives the signal. You know of course that I am not kidding about Ariel Sharon, Roger. The only reason Perle and his neo-con buddies are eager to demolish Iraq is so Sharon and his Likudniks can sweep away the inferior Palestinians, except for those who would like to stick around to do the laundry.
The Twentieth Century began with William Randolph Hearst (as played by Orson Welles) charging up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War. Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska thinks that if the Twenty-First Century begins with a charge into Baghdad that Richard Perle should be on horseback, in the front rank of the fray. Roger, I think you should be right beside him. It will be your war too.