News today via Howard Kurtz that Roger Ailes has agreed to a contract extension and will remain at the helm of Fox News for four more years also means that Ailes will also remain the unofficial head of the Republican Party for four more years.
As Media Matters has detailed, Fox News moved in during the Obama administration and essentially replaced the Republican National Committee as the driving electoral force in GOP politics. (aka The Opposition Party). With Ailes ensconced in his kingmaker role, candidates and politicians have had to bow down to Fox in search of votes and the channel's coveted free airtime.
Just this month, Brian Lowry at Variety confirmed that “the voice of Republican opposition throughout the Obama administration has been Fox News Channel, and the de facto leader of the GOP its chairman-CEO Roger Ailes.” (Variety noted Fox employed five of this year's presidential candidates.)
Word of the contract announcement does not come as a surprise. Ailes and his lawyer Peter Johnson, (yes, that Peter Johnson) had made it clear in the press that they were working on a lucrative extension. Ailes made $21 million last year. Reports last month indicated Ailes' new contract might pay him as much as $30 million annually, which would match News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch's salary.
In an interesting twist, the hacking scandal that enveloped News Corp., especially overseas, only helped to solidify Ailes' power within the company. By being able to avoid direct implications of the scandal Ailes made himself more valuable to Murdoch.
Also, the hacking controversy forced News Corp. to split into two separate companies. The profits that Ailes' Fox News generates will be a cornerstone to News Corp. business that will focus on television and movies. (Fox is expected to generate $1 billion in profits this year, nearly 40 percent of News Corp.'s total bottom line.)
As for the politics, back in 2010 former Bush speechwriter David Frum, noting the sweeping power that Ailes was accumulating, observing: “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox.”
It's now clear Republicans will be punching the clock at Ailes' Fox News for four more years.