News that Rupert Murdoch has renewed Roger Ailes’ contract as president of Fox News means the sly conflict and ratings hound could be shaping America’s political landscape for four more years.

Mitt Romney would be a different animal if Ailes wasn’t around, Guardian columnist Michael Wolff explains. Ailes’ use of the Fox airwaves to promote the tea party compelled Romney to pander to the conservative fringe early in the GOP nomination process while simultaneously making him appear like the only sane man on stage. Romney is now playing a role that, if he is elected president, he would be hard-pressed to escape as Ailes continued shaping the political opinions and mental habits of millions of Americans throughout Romney’s term.

Wolff explains how below.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Michael Wolff at The Guardian:

He’s established Fox News as the pre-eminent political world. When you watch it, you’re not just watching people who can influence power people, you’re watching the thrilling exercise of power. What you see – the malevolence, the disruption, the veiled subtexts – is the drama of dominance and submission.

Ailes, alone among news professionals, has understood the most important truth about modern news: nobody’s interested in politics, not in real politics anyway. It’s a buzz kill. Both Romney and Obama: buzz kills. Nonentities. But if you repopulate the political world with extremists, eccentrics, loudmouths and well-scripted voices, you have a show.

That’s what we have four more years of with Ailes firmly in place: parallel realities, with Fox having long since overshadowed, or even mostly replaced, actual political reality.

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