That said, this blog is not about Roger Ailes. It's about possibly the worst written article in Esquire, that I've ever read in a respected magazine. I am happy to note, that New York Magazine felt the same way calling the article "puzzingly overwritten."
First of all, let me applaud Esquire and Tom Junod for their article. More needs to be written about Mr. Ailes, and a good old fashioned subpoena duces tecum needs to be issued to the man. WikiLeaks, who cares about state secrets. Get me Fox News emails and memos and I'll start a donation campaign for you.
Also, having looked at Mr. Junod's wikipedia page, it seems the man is mature, and fairly accomplished. He has won several awards. And he's writing for a men's magazine. Men today are silly people--but we're not stupid. And as much as my own blog is written with a jokey, relaxed manner, the piece gave up toeing the line and plunged straight into the benalities of bad writing. Thanks a lot Esquire, it's no wonder men are failing out of school at such prodigious rates.
"Today, here at Esquire — and only at Esquire, because only Esquire has the guts to tell you this story — we're going to tell you about a man you need to know a little better, maybe a lot better: a man named Roger Ailes." Word count: 43
Rewritten: This story is about a political operative named Roger Ailes. Yay Esquire. Word count: 12
"he made a reported $23 million in 2009, which, to do the math, was not just more money than you earned, it was more money than everyone related to you earned, combined, even if you count the sudden windfall that came your aunt Ida's way after she got five out of six in Powerball. Nice work if you can get it, Mr. Ailes — especially when that "work" consisted of nothing but advancing your own agenda at the expense of the president of the United States of America during a time of war." Word count 92
Rewritten: He made $23 million in 2009, compared to the X million made by CEO, XXX of NBC, and the Y million made by CBS. This amount was one tenth of one percent of what the average American made in 2009. Word count: 40. More informative, less stupid.
Word Count: -52. No comment.
"For forty years, he has stood astride
Normally, I'd think it'd be insipid to call him a colossus, but I have a penchant for grandiose verbiage.
"At seventy years of age, when most hardworking American seniors have had enough of the rat race and are looking forward to spending some more quality time with the grandkids, Roger Ailes is at the height, perhaps the apogee, maybe even — some say — the very zenith of his power. Indeed, with most of the potential Republican candidates for president in 2012 on his payroll, he may be said to be just getting started. Hmmm. Maybe we don't know this Roger Ailes as well as we think we do. Maybe we don't know him very well at all, which is, of course, just the way he likes it" Word count 107
Rewritten: At seventy, he has no plans to retire, and may well be at the very zenith of his power, given that most of the Republican potential candidates of 2012 are paid Fox contributors. Word Count 33. More informative. I like big words, but choose one for god's sake.
"No, Mr. Ailes, you're wrong. You're not the only fat man in America. And we're not going to call you fat, either. Or bald. Or old. First of all, Esquire is completely unbiased, and beholden to no agendas. Second, we're not going to call you any names. We're not going to hurt your feelings, because in our extensive and exclusive investigation, we've found that you actually have them. You're a sensitive guy, Mr. Ailes. You're vulnerable." Word count: 76
Rewritten: Mr. Ailes is an overweight, aging baby boomer, who is balding. Yay Esquire. Word Count: 13 Is Esquire a 14 year old anorexic who needs constant ego boosting to prevent her from throwing up her lunch in the bathroom? Wtf? Further, if you're going to engage in ad hominems, at least own them.
Rewritten: Opining on his detractors, Ailes fumes "Well..." Word count: -57. His wife sends him blogs to read. How cute. And pointless. Hoover is a better looking man than Ailes, possibly a better man in general. And he's a murderer. Poor Olbermann.
Believe it or not, the next paragraph is perfectly fine. More physical description. Ailes is fat and ugly. But--who cares? William F. Buckley was a very good looking man, who was an out and out bigot.
"On the one hand, you sit at the very heart of the world that you have made — a world of information and power, of information as power — and all you have to do to reach virtually any of the world's most powerful people is pick up a phone. On the other, you communicate by means so personal and old-fashioned, they would make Tony Soprano comfortable." Word count: 65
Rewritten: It is surprising to note, for someone whose work in political media revolutionized political campaigning, Ailes himself is a Luddite, eschewing the use of Mobile devices entirely. Word count: 27. This is neither surprising nor useful. The world turned before the iPhone, probably faster and probably more effectively. Filed under: Ailes is Old. My sentence was more informative, more specific, and didn't use a pop culture reference six years past its sell-by date.
"Now, when you talk to Roger Ailes, he will inevitably tell you a few things. One is that he's a simple man. Another is that he's from Warren, Ohio. Another is that he owes his success to the fact that he's a simple man from Warren, Ohio. Another is that he knows you — the American viewer. Another is that he knows you because he is like you — "an average guy from flyover country." And yet another is that because he is like you, he likes you, and thinks that America is a "pretty good country" that we ought to think twice about blaming for the world's problems. " Word count: 107
Rewritten: Roger Ailes, born in Warren, Ohio, believes himself to be representative of an "average guy from flyover country." Like many on the right, he conflates "flyover country" with "average American" and falsely assumes himself, a career political operative, to be "like you." Word count: 42. This sort of colloquial writing is by now making me a bit nauseous. These continued set ups for sit-com style comedic beats, detract from the story and make finding actual information very difficult. Not to mention, extremely confusing.
"Okay, Mr. Ailes, we get it. You don't have to tell Esquire that America is the greatest country in the world. And there's no doubt you have a talent for giving American audiences television news that they want to watch. But if you're such an average guy, can you please tell us what happened to your BlackBerry?
Oh, you don't have one, do you?
We didn't think so.
Of course, a lot of average Americans do have BlackBerrys, or something like them — "smartphones," they're called. And a lot of Americans can be depended upon to handle their BlackBerrys responsibly, to be "smart" with their "smartphones." Not Roger Ailes. For Roger Ailes, having a BlackBerry was a very big deal — or, to be more precise, a very small one. You see, while most of us average Americans are very happy with our BlackBerrys, our iPhones, and our Androids — happy for the chance to stay "connected" with our loved ones when we're out there trying to make ends meet — Roger Ailes was not. Roger Ailes admits that he thought his BlackBerry was too ... small for a man of his size and stature. Roger Ailes thought that his BlackBerry made him look ... ridiculous." Word count: 202
Rewritten: Mr. Ailes doesn't use a smart phone, preferring to use smoke signals and morse code. Word count: 15. Filed under Ailes is Old. Junod likes Smartphones. Is breaking up an entire paragraph to make some obscenely inane joke about cell phones really worth it? You only get to use techniques like that once or twice per article. This is not the time. I might also add that we're at least seven hundred words into this article and we have only learned that Ailes is Old, Ailes is Fat, Ailes is a Luddite, and Junod is not. Mostly, we would have learned that from a single picture of the man. I am now only reading this article out of pure spite.
Word count: -144. Ailes is right jack ass. Is this article about smart phones or Ailes? I'm all for cheap populism, but "the workin' man" doesn't have a smart phone cause he can't afford the data plan. At the very least get paid for selling smartphones and really shill the product.
The next paragraph is 389 words long and can be filed under Ailes is Old. Subcategory, Ailes is a Curmudgeon. The only fact we have gleaned from this 389 word-long pile of fat ass flyover country droppings, (which I won't bother to copy) is that Ailes occaisonally responds to his critics' emails with venomous and wordy retaliations. In addition to being completely useless, the paragraph is also poorly written, not funny and boring. Are we having fun yet? Go ahead, take a minute and read it. Roll around in it. Really get the taste of modern journalism in your mouth.
Then finally, at page three, roughly a thousand words in, some information:
"So who is this … Roger Ailes,
Word count: 104. This maybe should have been your first paragraph Mr. Junod, since no one really cares about whether or not Ailes is Old, or Ailes is Fat, or Ailes is a Luddite. The article might be improving, particularly if Junod now describes for younger and less knowledgable audiences all of the names on that list.
Ok, so I knew all that. Although the bit on the Mike Douglas show was helpful. That's fine, younger audiencies and all that. Even so the 300 word paragraph has over a hundred words of pure drecht. As my ex-boss says, "minus eight." This paragraph might well have been chalk full of information about Nixon and Ailes. Sadly, this only gets filed under Ailes and Nixon. New facts: Ailes was a TV a young, successful tv producer, who helped get Nixon elected.
"As for Mr. Ailes, he was free to pursue what he was really interested in: raw power. But it was a new kind of power, based on the insight that came to him through his own "stuff." Before the arrival of Roger Ailes, television was thought to be a unifying medium — the "electronic hearth." Mr. Ailes knew better. Mr. Ailes knew that it was the fire itself. Mr. Ailes knew that the television screen in each American home was nothing less than a battleground, and he who controlled it controlled America, no matter what the message. He didn't even have to be overtly political, because television was by definition a political medium. Roger Ailes could win ... if the idea of a unified America lost. He could win ... if his own subversive vision of America was realized. He could win ... if American life became an endless, entrenched, and above all electronic argument. And you know what?
He did win.
Did you hear that, Mr. Ailes?
We concede." Word count 173
Word count: -173. Good Christ. I concede too. Just when this article was turning around, we get another massive, and massively stupid comedic break that is neither witty nor well-timed. That entire paragraph needs to GO. Just delete it. Why? Did Mr. Ailes say any of that? Is there any evidence for it? Sure there is, tons of it, reams of it, marijuana fields of it, so where is it? I'm skipping the next paragraph too, over two hundred words from which we learn nothing.
"Okay, come to think of it, there was one time Roger Ailes lost. Of course, he was a good sport about it, no big deal, all's fair in love and war and the rarefied world of the media elites.
No, Mr. Ailes wasn't a good loser. Was he the kid who loses and takes his marbles home? Well, not exactly. More like the kid who takes his marbles, sells them to Russian spies, then works with the Russian government to deliver a thermonuclear device straight to your house.
In this case, though, it wasn't the Russians who were interested in what Mr. Ailes was selling. It was the Australian oligarch Rupert Murdoch. Talk about stuff meeting stuff! On the one hand: the cunning antipodean entrepreneur who is to "global domination" as Tiger Woods is to "be sure to tip your waitress." On the other: Roger Ailes, who had just lost out to the very media elite he'd always despised and distrusted." Word count: 183Sigh. Another worthless two hundred words wasted. Why do I care? Because this is confusing. Not only does it refuse to identify how he lost (Sarah Palin, we find out later) it also confuses the issue with Russians and nuclear weapons. I get that Junod doesn't mean any of that claptrap, but if its a joke, its a bad one.
This post needs to go into round two. Sorry about the formatting, Blogger is pretty bad with copy and paste specials