Sunday, July 14, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Loudest Voice' - Roger Ailes Contends With a World He Fears Is Conspiring Against Him in '2008'

Showtime's The Loudest Voice - Episode 1.03 "2008"

With the election of "Barack Hussein Obama," Roger and Fox have found the ultimate enemy - one that will drive Fox's coverage as well as cement their ratings at #1. Fighting to take full editorial control of Fox News, Roger finds himself in conflict with both his boss, Rupert Murdoch, and the Obama Administration. What no one suspects are the hidden depths of Roger's secret world.

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.

"2008" was written by Gabriel Sherman & Jennifer Stahl and directed by Jeremy Podeswa

This hour closes with Roger Ailes finishing a speech with the phrase "make America great again." That's a well-known slogan in 2019. It's also the show pointedly telling the audience exactly where all of this is heading. It draws a straight line from the vision Ailes saw for Fox News to what would ultimately happen to the Republican party and conservative movement. It's trying to position him as someone who sees it long before anyone else. He is being propped up as a brilliant man who must be appeased at all times. And yet, he is not. He is a despicable human being who abuses people in order to satisfy his own needs. His view of patriotism is distorted with racism that permeates throughout every single thing that he does. He is horrified by Rupert Murdoch's stance that the news networks need to make a statement to an audience seen as global citizens. He sees that as this grand conspiracy cooked up by Rupert's third wife in order to push him further to the left. But that feeds into the narrative that misinformation can lead to the creation of a completely alternate reality that people can live in. Roger Ailes doesn't see the election of Barack Obama in 2008 as a celebration or even as legitimate. He sees the writing on the wall the moment that Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric is broadcast. Despite all of his hard work to expose the community activist and senator as a fraud, Obama is still elected. He isn't even allowed to enter the Oval Office and get his bearings before people start blaming him for all of the problems that he has failed to fix after promising to do so. It's only after the election that Roger returns to his hometown and sees how depressing it has become after the local factory has closed down. He sees this as a direct result of the liberal elites who don't understand the plight of the white working class. And yet, it's all just an extension of the false reality he has created in which he sees himself as lording over people with a message and promises that only he can deliver them to economic salvation. He feels justified and vindicated because he has full editorial control over Fox News and can destroy lives in an instant. The politicking of this specific hour though is much less biting than the previous two though. It's hard to offer insight into what led to our current political climate. Ailes definitely played a significant role in it. The twists coming up in the story are also insanely relevant and pivotal to the overall cultural moment. But that's what also makes it awkward that this is the first episode in which some of the supporting characters get fleshed out a little bit. The longterm sexual abuse done to Laurie is seen for the first time here. The preceding hours just wanted to portray it as a tawdry affair. Here, it is absolutely sickening to watch and forces Laurie to some dark places as she contemplates whether or not it is possible to escape. She fears that she can never leave because her whole life is wrapped up in serving Roger's needs. That's completely despicable. Roger shows no concern for the outside world. It's all about his own personal satisfaction. He already boosts about wanting to have sex with the network's latest correspondent, Gretchen Carlson. Meanwhile, the other executives at the network resort to the same nasty and disruptive tricks in order to get exactly what they want. Politics and journalism can be seen as a game that has to be played with a calculating mindset. And yet, this hour presents it as one where it is so easy for this kind of abusive power to go unchecked. One where others are continually emboldened and rewarded for their actions with no one having any sense of what may truly be going on in the world. It's remarkable while still being sickening. The show only does an adequate job in exploring these themes though. It mostly feels like an hour setting up for some major conflicts to come shortly.