Sunday, July 7, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Loudest Voice' - Tragedy Cements Exactly What Roger Ailes Aspires for Fox News in '2001'

Showtime's The Loudest Voice - Episode 1.02 "2001"

Five years later and Fox News is on the cusp of surpassing CNN to become the #1 rated news network. Then, 9/11 changes everything. Emboldened and horrified by this terrorist attack on American soil, Ailes begins pushing the news with an agenda, using his network to help drive the Bush Administration's push to war in Iraq and finally put Fox on top of the ratings race.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Showtime's The Loudest Voice.

"2001" was written by Alex Metcalf and directed by Kari Skogland

This hour articulates the importance journalism and the media can have in shaping the narratives of the world. It's a power that Roger Ailes wields here so monstrously and in a way that has such massive consequences. The show is very potent with the inclusion of 9/11 visuals. It sees all of this as a key turning point for Fox News. The cable outlet has been up and running for a few years now. But this is the moment that really strengthens the approach that Roger wants to have towards the news. It's enough for people to continually remind him that he is a newsman and not a politician. To Roger though, the two go hand-in-hand. He is in near constant contact with the George W. Bush administration. More importantly though, he is the one person at Fox News making all of the crucial decisions. People can warn him that it's not appropriate or right to show certain images from that harrowing day or push an agenda that isn't based on any discernible evidence. But he still makes the final decision and everyone goes along with it. There isn't anyone in this business who feels the power to actually stand up to him. Lachlan Murdoch certainly sees himself as a powerful voice who also believes he should be respected because of the authority he has over the entire company. But Roger doesn't show that to him. Instead, he can simply present as a guy Rupert can still trust to run this business. Rupert may not be as monstrous and toxic as Roger is when it comes to making these executive decisions. But he is still complicit in every thing that Roger does in this workplace because he sees him as the man delivering the channel to number one ratings. That's really all that anyone is chasing in this business. Roger worked in politics and was an advisor for three different presidential administrations. And yet, he got his start in show business and saw a vision for what Fox News could be when no one else could. And now, he only continues to increase the stakes. His wife, Beth, is worried what bringing Rupert home in the wake of 9/11 could do to their family. She is forever frightened that the next attack could be right around the corner. That fear and uncertainty is what is driving the conversation forward. That's the energy and tone that Roger grabs ahold of when it comes to making these arguments. There is no link between terrorism and Iraq. And yet, the Bush administration urges Roger to push the narrative that there is just so the public can support an invasion and regime change in the region. With the value of hindsight, the audience knows just how dangerous all of this becomes. It starts a war that is still raging to this day. There are people now who seem to be making the same mistakes as the leaders did back in the early 2000s. This was a solemn time in our country's history. It was used to manipulate people into believing a story that wasn't true. There was just the sense that Saddam Hussein was the most pressing threat in the world because he could have weapons of mass destruction. That was later proven to be unfounded. Meanwhile, it would take almost a decade before the true mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks was captured and killed. And yet, all of this shows the power that Roger Ailes has. People instinctively want to trust and support him despite how he has used this influence. People are terrified and don't want him as an enemy because of how he can effectively use the media against them as well. But Roger is mostly just outraged when his working both sides of the political discourse is exposed to the public. He has no qualms about leading the network and advising the current administration whatsoever. He is slyly working behind the scenes pushing the country to a war that only destabilizes the entire world. That certainly is a crushing and brutal part of his legacy. But again, he is confident in seeing this as the best and most effective message for his "America First" campaign in order to be the number one cable news network in the country.