The Loudest Voice just launched on Showtime last night, with an episode about the launch of Fox News. Or, more specifically, about how Roger Ailes (stunningly portrayed by Russell Crowe) launched Fox News, and with just about everyone else on the screen (the screen of The Loudest Voice) kicking and screaming. That includes owner Rupert Murdock, and just about everyone else in Ailes's orbit.
First, a few words from me about Fox News. Although I've strongly disagreed from the outset with its politics, I've admired their green rooms (I've been a guest on O'Reilly, etc), and more importantly, the savvy they've shown in how to present a news opinion show. It wasn't the least bit surprising to me when they jumped to first place in cable news, leaving CNN and MSNBC in the dust. This state continued until Trump and his awful Presidency drove up viewership of both Fox competitors, especially MSNBC.
But I digress. I was never on the inside of Fox News. I knew Fox News just as a viewer, and as an occasional guest on one of its prime time shows. So I have no idea how truthful or not this story of Ailes, and the begetting of Fox News is, but it certainly conforms to what I do know.
Not only did the green rooms have a great assortment of bagels, juices, and teas, but the corridors were buzzing with an energy I never saw when I was a guest on CNN or MSNBC. You could tell when you got a peek at the control rooms that the people who worked on Fox knew they were part of a revolution in news presentation, and loved it.
Of course, as we'll see in the weeks ahead, not everyone at Fox continued to love it or had reason to love it. But that's a different part of the story, and there's no denying that Fox utterly dominated cable news in the first decades of its existence, in an age right between the hegemony of network television and the rise of social media. The Loudest Voice offers a crucial and compelling picture of just how this came to be.