New York Film Festival: Roger Ailes Doc

One can usually find a few hidden gems in the New York Film Festival Documentary section. This year brings such varied topics as “American Dharma,” Errol Morris’ take on Steve Bannon (pictured) and “Divide and Conquer,” Alexis Bloom’s exploration of the life of the creator of both MSNBC and Fox News. Subtitled “The Story of Roger Ailes,” Bloom’s fair and balanced film is an often harrowing look at the man directly responsible for the elections of Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush and that current guy in the White House.

Ailes media savvy, which was admittedly brilliant and probably unmatchable, made him a political kingmaker whose reach is still affecting us even after his death in 2017. Bloom interviews several people, some of whom are surprising talking heads. We learn that Austin Pendleton was Ailes’ middle school classmate back in Warren, Ohio. Pendleton gives one of the few portraits of Ailes that doesn’t include his professional life. On that side of the equation, we’ll hear from John Cook, Glenn Beck and former Fox News journalist Alisyn Camerota, who is now on CNN. We’ll see enough clips from Fox News to own the libs (I cop to wanting to pull my eyes out), but Bloom also informs us that Ailes’ first network venture, America First, was eventually taken over and purchased by Bill Gates and rechristened MSNBC. It’s hinted that this coup was the reason Ailes created Fox News.

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