Roger Ailes, the former Chairman and CEO of Fox News, died May 18. Depending on who you talk to, he's either praised for turning Fox News into a powerhouse that gave conservatives a major presence on cable television news or blamed for damaging journalism and civil discourse.
The Shop Talk panelists lean toward the latter. Will Buss said Ailes and Fox achieved ratings success but at the cost of truth and objectivity. He said Fox’s assault on journalism proved harmful to democracy and he believes history will not look kindly on Ailes and the network.
Buss said Ailes’ legacy deserves to be further tarnished by the culture of sexual harassment that was allowed to exist at Fox News.
Panelist Jasmine Crighton also acknowledged Fox was lucrative and enjoyed ratings success, but pointed out that does not mean the network provided a service to society. She said Ailes created a niche for people who don’t believe in facts. She said despite the network’s slogan, it is not the least bit “fair and balanced.”
Crighton said she watches a great deal of cable television news and she can’t think of a single major story that Fox News broke and got correct.
Panelist Rich Egger considers “Fox News” to be an oxymoron. He said Ailes’ former network engages in propaganda, not news. He said the network continuously gave voice to then-private citizen Donald Trump’s allegations that President Barack Obama’s was not an American citizen despite irrefutable evidence showing Obama was born in the U.S.
Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.