New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof linked embattled Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes’ apparent downfall to the travails of the Republican Party that just nominated Donald Trump for president.
The Times is reporting that “Ailes and 21st Century Fox, Fox News’s parent company, are in the advanced stages of discussions that would lead to his departure as chairman” following an internal investigation into allegations that Ailes has engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment.
Responding to the news, Kristof noted that “ today’s G.O.P. has been galvanized, prodded and molded by Fox News” under Ailes and that Trump “is the Republican nominee perhaps in part because Fox News and other prominent right-wing commentators weakened the control of Republican Party bosses.” He concludes that Ailes and the Republican Party share a common “myopia,” writing in a July 19 piece:
The ugly sexual harassment of which Ailes is accused was common a generation ago and too often was accepted as boys-will-be-boys behavior. But times have changed, and he apparently continued in the 2010s conduct that is no longer winked at and is now often (unfortunately, not often enough) taken very seriously. Ailes was stuck in the past, and now he apparently will end his career in disgrace as a result, if the reports are correct.
The Republican Party suffers a similar myopia. It continues to behave as if America were in the 1970s, and its nostalgia leads it to antagonize blacks, Latinos and Muslims, as well as many whites uncomfortable with what feels to them like bigotry. In the 2000 Republican convention, George W. Bush was careful to put black faces on the podium almost nonstop, so that people joked that convention coverage looked like Black Entertainment Television, because Bush knew that he needed to come across to American centrists as tolerant and open-minded. In contrast, the 2016 convention is mostly whites all the time.
Republican leaders have talked for many years of the need to adapt to changing values and changing demography. But so far they haven’t managed to change, any more than Ailes did — and so just as Ailes’s rise was a boon for the Republican Party, so his downfall is a harbinger of trouble ahead, of a political party that blindly marches on without regard to changing times. As Ailes topples today, I’d bet on the G.O.P. tumbling tomorrow.