Now that Roger Ailes has died, this overview of how he managed to reshape the media landscape is worth revisiting:
Roger Ailes' Secret Nixon-Era Blueprint for Fox News (John Cook, Gawker)
Republican media strategist Roger Ailes launched Fox News Channel in 1996, ostensibly as a "fair and balanced" counterpoint to what he regarded as the liberal establishment media. But according to a remarkable document buried deep within the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, the intellectual forerunner for Fox News was a nakedly partisan 1970 plot by Ailes and other Nixon aides to circumvent the "prejudices of network news" and deliver "pro-administration" stories to heartland television viewers.
The memo—called, simply enough, "A Plan For Putting the GOP on TV News"— is included in a 318-page cache of documents detailing Ailes' work for both the Nixon and George H.W. Bush administrations that we obtained from the Nixon and Bush presidential libraries. Through his firms REA Productions and Ailes Communications, Inc., Ailes served as paid consultant to both presidents in the 1970s and 1990s, offering detailed and shrewd advice ranging from what ties to wear to how to keep the pressure up on Saddam Hussein in the run-up to the first Gulf War. [...]
The beginning of the memo, shown in the photograph above, reads:
"A PLAN FOR PUTTING THE GOP ON TV NEWS
For 200 years the newspaper front page dominated public thinking. In the last 20 years. that picture has changed. Today television news is watched more often
than people read newspapers.
than people listen to radio.
than people read or gather any other form of communication."
The article goes on to discuss the origins of what became Fox News as a plan to bypass news networks' editors, by offering local TV stations pre-produced "news" clips about their representatives and other topics of interest that they could air without giving credit, at a fraction of the actual cost of producing them.