“Divide and Conquer” is a new documentary about the life and career of ousted Fox News chairman and CEO, Roger Ailes.
Director Alexis Bloom talked to Business Insider about trying to push away the myth of Ailes to show who the real man was (Ailes died within a year of resigning from heading Fox News in 2016 after sexual misconduct allegations).
But the movie also highlights Ailes’ ego-driven life that included a fortified office and the need to embellish everything.
Exploring the life and times of Roger Ailes, the ousted CEO of Fox News, is important because it shows how one man single-handedly shaped the way many of us view politics and news in today’s world. But how Ailes actually became a titan in media is split two ways: the truth, and how Ailes spun it.
In “Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes,” director Alexis Bloom (“Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds”) took on the task of pushing away the spin for an unfiltered telling of Ailes’ life — from his political days as the force behind the presidential elections of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush, to becoming the most powerful man in media.
Bloom only knew Ailes by reputation during the rise of Fox News in the 2000s.
“I was fascinated because he seemed to be this mixture of being thuggish and charming,” Bloom told Business Insider. “Sort of a genius and also depraved.”
And this was before former “Fox & Friends” co-host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes.
Bloom began getting financing for “Divide and Conquer” (opening in theaters on Friday) around the time the titan was about to freefall. The Carlson lawsuit was followed by other sexual misconduct allegations against Ailes, including by one of the network’s biggest names, Megyn Kelly. Ailes resigned in July of 2016 (in the movie numerous women give detailed accounts about Ailes’ alleged sexual misconduct toward them).
By the time Bloom began filming the documentary, Ailes had died (within a year of leaving Fox News). Though the director was disappointed at the time she wouldn’t get a chance to interview him for the movie, she quickly realized that Ailes’ death led to more opportunities.
“There were people who told me, ‘We wouldn’t be having this conversation if Roger was alive,’” Bloom said.
“Divide and Conquer” explores many of the defining moments in Ailes’ life, starting with his challenging childhood, in which suffering from hemophilia made him live in constant fear that at any moment he could die. Ailes’ father also never showed much affection for him, and a classic Ailes story involves his father playing trick on young Ailes by not catching him after telling him to jump off the top bunk (more on that later). After his childhood, the doc looks at Ailes becoming, as one reporter called him, the “Ernest Hemingway of campaign advisors,” as he created the political strategist profession. And then comes Ailes’ first foray into 24 hour news, America’s Talking.
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Source:: Business Insider