How Conservative Media Is Remembering Ailes Is Deeply Problematic

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Roger Ailes' death has brought out an array of bizarre euphemisms and sexist excuses from the conservative media as they try to eulogize the controversial man.

Fox News Headquarters after death of Roger Ailes

Roger Ailes is dead, and now begins the conservative media's difficult task of remembering him. 

While it is true the former Fox News chairman and CEO built a media empire that extended into politics, helped create lucrative careers for many, and either snapped America in two or "made it great again" (depending on who you're talking to), he was also an alleged sexual predator. That's a huge part of his legacy that conservatives are struggling to find words for as they attempt to honor the man's life.

Television personality Piers Morgan described Ailes as "flawed," and conservative author Lee Edwards called the late media mogul a "victim of his own hubris."

Fox News commentator Sean Hannity and Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee both referred to Ailes' sexual harassment of his employees as sins, each also insisting that we all are guilty of them.

Others in the conservative media described Ailes as having committed "misdeeds" or as having done "bad things," and while they're not wrong, these euphemisms for the very worst of what Ailes was capable of are grossly superficial and offensively inadequate.

Roger L. Simon, co-founder of conservative site PJ Media, went a step further and added a note of sexism to his eulogy, describing Ailes as "a brilliant TV news executive" but also as "tragic figure" who was ultimately toppled by "the male libido." 

Let's get this straight. Ailes is not a tragic hero nor is he a victim of his penis or his pride. He was not a television news media tycoon who just so happened to be sexist and misogynistic; these elements of his life are equally important and inextricably linked. The possibility that he abused his power to prey on women who placed their trust in him is not an afterthought to his career — it was a part of his career.

It is fine to remember Ailes, and it is fine for his friends and family to honor him, but it must be done fairly. One can recognize his incredible impact (however you feel about it) on television, politics, and the American social landscape while also recognizing that many women are in pain because they state that he made the choice to hurt them, to be cruel to them. Ailes was perhaps brilliant, but he was also perhaps broken. 

That's how we should remember him.

 

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