Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has made lots of money peddling slanted news as “fair and balanced” on his Fox News Channel. The man who built it, Roger Ailes, retired in disgrace in 2016 and died a year later. He changed American media in many ways, and used fear as a driving force at Fox — and earlier in campaigns for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush.
Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes is a new documentary that debuts on December 7 in theaters and online. We talk with producer/director Alexis Bloom about Ailes’s early work as producer of The Mike Douglas Show, where he met Richard Nixon. When he worked for George H.W. Bush’s campaign in 1988, Ailes deployed the infamous Willie Horton ad in one of his early assaults on the liberals he saw as the enemies of his cause.
Bloom shares several interesting anecdotes, including how Ailes started Fox News to spite his former employers at NBC, how he gave fishing lessons to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for a TV ad, and his exploitation of women on screen and off.
Alexis Bloom is producer and director of Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes. Bloom also produced Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds and We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks.