“Television is not a gimmick, and if you think it is, you’ll lose again,” a 27-year-old Roger Ailes told Richard Nixon as he sought the Oval Office in 1968. Days later, Ailes had a job aboard the ultimately successful campaign. Decades later, many similarly derided the launch of Fox News, but the network's CEO has relentlessly crafted it into a right-wing behemoth, political game-changer, and cash cow in an age of media decline. The New York Times profiles News Corp's crown prince.
The son of a Midwestern factory worker, Ailes says his credo—God, country, family—also drove the network's success. “I built this channel from my life experience,” he says. “My first qualification is I didn’t go to Columbia Journalism School." And while Fox may be a favored piñata on the left, a gimmick it's not—the $700 million it's rumored to pull down this year surpasses CNN, MSNBC, and the nightly news of ABC, CBS, and NBC together. “In terms of the news business, the cable television business, and the political business, there is him and then there is everybody else,” says James Carville.