I'm not a racist, a bigot, uneducated or an angry and disaffected unemployed person, but I will be joining their numbers when I get my chance to vote for Donald Trump in the GOP primary, and I'd like to tell you why.
It's pretty simple, actually: I'm voting for Trump because I hate Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News. He runs the largest cable news outlet in the country like his own personal megaphone and, in my opinion, not in support of the forces of good.
The rise of Trump is a "black swan," an extremely unlikely event that no one saw coming but which has huge ramifications. Essentially, it's Ailes' great science experiment gone wrong. Ailes has been the voice of the Republican movement for a generation. The audience that Fox News has courted, under Ailes' direction, has given the media baron the power to sway elections and policy on the Republican side of the aisle.
From a Rolling Stone profile from 2011:
The typical viewer of Hannity, to take the most stark example, is a pro-business (86 percent), Christian conservative (78 percent), Tea Party-backer (75 percent) with no college degree (66 percent), who is over age 50 (65 percent), supports the NRA (73 percent), doesn't back gay rights (78 percent) and thinks government "does too much" (84 percent). "He's got a niche audience and he's programmed to it beautifully," says a former News Corp. colleague. "He feeds them exactly what they want to hear."
From the same piece:
Ailes knows exactly who is watching Fox News each day, and he is adept at playing to their darkest fears in the age of Obama.
Ailes programs the conservative masses who are addicted to the self-confirming news reports he provides. And the consequences have been devastating. Look at George W. Bush's presidency. Fox News happily cheered along as Bush led the U.S. into two costly, tragic wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and cut taxes to the wealthy and watched while the economy nearly collapsed. And look at the presidency of Barack Obama. Fox News has been successful in helping stymie his agenda, which, whether you agree with it or not, has meant six years of gridlock. Obama, who is hated and feared by Republicans and hailed as a champion by many Democrats, lost to Ailes, in the end, too.
But Trump has shown he can beat Ailes. This recent Guardian headline says it all: "Unorthodox Trump smashes Fox News influence over rightwing media." Some excerpts:
Trump has broken the "grip of Fox News over conservative media and scattering talking heads, bloggers and politicians across various tribes of pro- and anti-Trump thinking." The article details how conservative media, which had usually fallen in line with the Fox News/Ailes message, has blog networks and rival sites taking sides, for or against Trump. "The spat between Trump and Ailes reflects a larger war for control of the Republican party that has been playing out for months, if not years, and upended the order of conservative politics." And Trump's rise, therefore, suggests that "the cable news giants, like the leaders of both parties, are losing some influence over the masses they rely on."
Trump has also found a way to hit Ailes where it really hurts -- his revenue. When Trump sat out a January Republican debate, broadcast on Fox News, it had the lowest ratings for any GOP debate thus far (save for a debate on Fox Business Network, which is not in nearly as many homes as Fox News). Trump also emerged from confrontations with Fox News star Megyn Kelly stronger than at the outset. He's the perfect candidate to take on the real nefarious force in the U.S.
The irony of it, of course, is that Fox News may have helped create Trump.
"The Republican Party and Fox permitted and encouraged Trumpian vitriol for years," from the Daily Beast. "All that talk over the years about birth certificates and Kenya and terrorist fist-jabs (remember that one?!) and the moocher class and the scary brown people and all the rest of it...all of it created a need for a Trump, and for other Trump-like candidates, to flourish."
And Trump uses many of Ailes own tricks to divide the Fox boss's audience and base of influence. When Fox News delivers a sermon suggesting that we should have a computer database for all American Muslims, Trump one-ups Fox and says they should all be given ID cards. Fox, under Ailes, says what the darkest parts of the electorate want to hear, but only going so far. Trump takes it farther, enough take a chunk of the Fox audience with him.
The flame of hope has since been rekindled for me. It's not the "hope" and "change" that Obama offered, but real hope that by changing the media landscape in America, Trump can move our country forward in a positive direction. Sometimes change comes gradually, but sometimes it comes in an instant, sometimes at the hands of a pompous, disrespectful, and orange-fake-tanned-fireball of a businessman.
By voting for Trump, I am, in essence, voting against Ailes. When a single party is consolidated under single-toned rhetoric from one man, it becomes tyrannical. This is an opportunity for the Republican Party to break away and create new leadership.