On the cusp of Fox News’s 15th birthday, the operation’s boss, Roger Ailes, has given the Associated Press an excellent quote:
“I hired Sarah Palin because she was hot and got ratings.”
That quip will get a lot of attention in the coming decades, in all the predictable ways: proof of Fox News’s shallowness and depravity; proof of the operation’s disregard for women; proof that Ailes will do anything to beat his competitors in the ratings.
There’s also a deeper point: When you work for the nation’s leading cable-news outfit; when you’re engaged in a cultural war on the airwaves every day; when you’re convinced that the establishment is after you, just say whatever. Whatever thought comes to mind — however base, offensive, vacuous — just say it! Follow that simple rule, and the ratings will take care of themselves.