Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes was the guest teacher for two classes today at the United States Military Academy at West Point, lecturing cadets on “the overall historical relationship between the military and the media.” Ailes, who never served in the military, will also deliver a lecture there this evening on “a variety of media topics.”
As the boss at Fox News, Ailes has had no qualms about crossing the line from journalist to armchair general. Here are some of the lessons Ailes might be expected to impart to the military:
Lesson 1: The Public Won’t Support You, Unless You Do Things “Harshly”: Soon after 9/11, according to Bob Woodward, Ailes sent a “back-channel message” to President Bush, suggesting that he needed to take “the harshest measures possible” in retaliation for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He added that “support” for war “would dissipate if the public did not see Bush acting harshly.”
Lesson 2: The Public Does Not Need To Know The Full Reasons For Going To War: In 2003, a University of Maryland study found that “those who receive most of their news from Fox News are more likely than average to have misperceptions” about basic facts related to the war. 80 percent of those who relied on Fox News as their primary news source believed at least one of three lies: the discovery of alleged WMD in Iraq, alleged Iraqi involvement in 9/11, and international support for a U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Lesson 3: When Things Go Bad, The Public Doesn’t Need To Know: “Fox spent half as much time covering the Iraq war than MSNBC during the first three months” of 2007, “and considerably less than CNN.” Fox News “were obviously cheerleaders for the war,” said CNN U.S. President Jon Klein. “When the war went badly they had to dial back coverage because it didn’t fit their preconceived story lines.”
Most importantly, Ailes’ military philosophy holds that if someone “can’t face Fox’s” biased journalism, then they “can’t face al Qaeda.”