Fox News chief Roger Ailes prepped Paul Ryan for VP run: “I know a guy who can teach you to read off a prompter.” | WisCommunity

Fox News chief Roger Ailes prepped Paul Ryan for VP run: “I know a guy who can teach you to read off a prompter.”

Apparently, Barack Obama is far from the only politician who knows how to use an electronic prompter to read speeches.

Want proof not only of that but of how Fox News is, for all intents and purposes, the main operating unit of the Republican Party? Read no farther than a meaty new book,  by Gabriel Sherman. The book describes how Fox News impressario Ailes basically created Fox News as a political noise machine that was mainly about promoting right-wing American politics while dumping on anyone to the left of Genghis Khan. 

According to the book, Ailes brought in Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) for a private meeting soon after Mitt Romney picked Ryan as his vice presidential running mate in 2012. Ailes already had directed his network to begin overtly comparing Ryan to Ronald Reagan. Ryan obviously ran with the advice: An Internet search shows that the Ryan campaign was only too happy to begin employing the same comparison.

In effect, Ailes -- the head of a major news network -- was serving as a key Ryan campaign strategist. The Ryan-Ailes connection was all the more interesting in that Ailes reportedly disliked Romney.

Excerpt from the book:

In August, when Romney introduced his vice presidential pick, Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, Fox anchor Megyn Kelly giddily compared Ryan to Ronald Reagan. On her program, a montage of video clips showed Ryan and the Gipper inveighing against government spending with similar language... .

Behind the scenes, Ailes helped prep Ryan for the race. “Ryan met with Roger,” a person close to Ailes said. Ailes told Ryan he needed to work on his television skills and referred him to speech coach Jon Kraushar, who had worked at his consulting company Ailes Communications in the 1980s and coauthored with Ailes the book You Are the Message. “I know a guy who can teach you to read off a prompter,” Ailes said.

That a news executive was essentially running the Republican Party was a remarkable development in American politics. But it was an outcome Ailes foretold. After the 1968 campaign,  Ailes spoke of a time when television would replace the political party, that other mass organizer of the twentieth century. With Fox News, that reality was arguably established.

This sort of coordination between Ailes at Fox and Republican candidates for high office follows a decades-long history of eyebrow-raising over Ailes' campaign tactics and line-blurring across decades. Legal and ethics questions began arising after Ailes was involved in the infamous Willie Horton campaign smear against Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis in 1988. Now Ailes runs a supposedly "fair and balanced" news network where the top boss sits with Republican candidates and counsels them on strategy.

As for Ryan, his campaign took what arguably ought to be considered as major in-kind support from this supposed "news" operation. Calling the Federal Election Commission! Where are you, FEC?

Meanwhile, in an act of supreme irony, Ryan took to the Sunday public-affairs TV show circuit to call President Obama "lawless," as the UPI dispatch below notes. Funny that Ryan apparently didn't think it lawless when Republican presidents used executive orders (and, in George W. Bush's case, "signing statements") many more times than Obama ever has. Magnanimously, perhaps, Ryan went on to say he has no plans to seek Obama's impeachment:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the United States has "an increasingly lawless presidency" and accused President Obama of circumventing the constitution. 

In an appearance on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, Ryan said he took issue with Obama's threat to use executive orders to advance his agenda in his State of the Union speech ... 

Published

February 2, 2014 - 3:29pm

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