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Roger Ailes and the dawn of hyper-partisan television

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Roger Ailes revolutionised cable news in the US, creating the hyper-partisan, opinion-based environment that currently dominates the American media landscape.

It’s probably fitting, then, that the responses to the death of the man who founded conservative media behemoth Fox News have been sharply divided along partisan lines.

He was a “monster” who poisoned American society and made people “dumber and angrier“. Or he was a “great American patriot” and a “media genius“. One man, two decidedly different pictures in one country with two decidedly different outlooks on the world.

Much has been written recently about the fracturing of US culture; of how Americans are withdrawing to their own bubbles, where they are fed news and entertainment that caters to their political and social predispositions.

Media captionFox News in the spotlight – Amol Rajan reports

Over the course of the past two decades, Ailes built Fox News into one of the biggest bubbles of all.

In 1996, when Ailes was hired by Fox head Rupert Murdoch to start his new network, CNN dominated the cable news world. Its style was not too unlike the network evening news formats that had become a way of life in America since the dawn of television, from Walter Cronkite to Tom Brokaw. Authoritative, purportedly unbiased television presenters read the news and introduced stories, day and night, week after week.

A few talks shows dotted the schedule. Crossfire and Capital Gang had politicians

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