What has happened at Fox News will be bad for America, bad for Republicans and bad for patriotic conservatism. The network will likely never again achieve the heights it has in the past, and many of its viewers may drift away and look elsewhere for their news.
Despite his flaws, Roger Ailes was a man who could see the future. He had a great eye for talent and kept the quality standards at Fox consistently high. Bill O’Reilly was an intellectual giant who could take on all comers and keep the conservative perspective honest and, at times, dominant.
Despite solid anchors including Bret Baier, Stuart Varney and Neil Cavuto, I fear Fox News will become sort of a Branson, Mo., version of the news, where lackluster talent will find a fading home when they can’t broadcast anywhere else. I don’t mean Fox News will literally become like Branson and feature a $5.99 buffet at the studio, but you get the idea.
Just like Ailes, O’Reilly was a threat to the left — and therefore a target. He had done more harm to the liberal cause than anyone else. And the fact is, by swamp rules, when they are out to get you, they usually get you.
The double standard, being what it is against Republicans, is on full display. The voices that were silent about the serial abuser and alleged rapist Bill Clinton and his enabler, Hillary Clinton, have been protected and even celebrated while Ailes and O’Reilly were hounded out of their jobs. If it weren’t so sad, the hypocrisy would be pretty funny.
By the way, I would love to know, of the advertisers that pulled out of O’Reilly’s show, how many boasted about their support for and contributions to the Clinton campaign, the Clinton Foundation or the Clinton Global Initiative. Regardless, neither O’Reilly nor Ailes reached the heights of depravity that Bill Clinton so blatantly did. At least interns were safe at Fox News.
But the point here is not about these two men, it is about the voice and role Fox News has played over the years. The network was an unstoppable and irreplaceable force. With Ailes as the conductor of a fair and balanced symphony orchestra and O’Reilly in the first chair, Fox News offered quality, top-rated programming year after year. Each night, O’Reilly produced commentary that offered clear thinking, compelling logic and exposed the abuses of liberals better than anyone else.
No one will truly be able to replace Ailes or O’Reilly — but not because they won’t try. These men offered unique perspectives, talents and capabilities that will forever go unmatched. They are what anchored Fox News. And without Ailes and O’Reilly, Fox News is destined to become something much different from what it once was.
This is what Democrats have been praying for all these years, and they are finally going to get it: Fox News without the original thinkers. The liberal hypocrites won one by finishing off O’Reilly, and America and the conservative cause are weaker as a result. I hope Fox News can recover, but for the time being, it looks like less truth will be available to the public.
Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog at The Washington Post.