Roger Ailes, former Republican political consultant, and current president of Fox News Channel, is a dominant media figure of our age. His made-for-TV imagery and mastery of “style over substance” has overtaken earlier methods of reporting the news, and radically refashioned our political and communications landscapes. Yet, no book has ever been published on this Oz-like figure: Dark Genius is the definitive study of Ailes and his controversial career. The 1960 television encounter between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy was the moment when slick television imagery began to take over politics. Ailes, a young TV producer, absorbed the lessons of the new video age, and put them into practice. While a director on “The Mike Douglas Show”, he met Richard Nixon, who soon hired Ailes to help him conquer the fledgling medium. Riding the wave of that triumph, Ailes went on to aid other key Republican figures like Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Rudy Giuliani.
In the 1990s, Ailes was hired to run CNBC, the first cable financial network, bringing a talk radio sensibility to the small screen. Then, Rupert Murdoch hired him to implement the media mogul’s vision for a different kind of cable news network. Now, with Murdoch (whose News Corp. has recently acquired the Wall Street Journal), Ailes is launching the FOX News business channel in 2007. Over the span of several decades, Ailes has played a key role in the growing reach of conservatism, first in politics, then in mass media. Part history, part media criticism, part current events, Dark Genius tracks the rise, dominance, and relevance of political television, and how it has been used and abused by its master.