Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes

How a very unpleasant man helped shape our very unpleasant world.

Alexis Bloom’s documentary Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes is a small but vital part of the story of how our country got to this particular circle of Hell, a tale which is so messed up that Glenn Beck comes across as rational. Being a hemophiliac, Fox News founder Roger Ailes lived in fear of bleeding — *cough* snowflake *cough* — and he made a career out of exploiting the fears of others, a mongering that culminated in the 2016 election.

On the road to this dark apotheosis, he was responsible for his fellow sweaty jowl-farmer Richard Nixon becoming telegenic enough to be elected President in 1968, devised the Willie Horton ads for the first Bush’s 1988 campaign, and founded a short-lived cable news channel in 1994 called America’s Talking. In this Fox News precursor, Ailes put the female anchors behind transparent desks with lights shining on their legs, which isn’t even the earliest example of the lechery that would lead to his overdue downfall. One of Divide and Conquer’s more surprising revelations is that Ailes really wanted to be a song-and-dance man, and his favorite form of exercise was tap-dancing. A man doesn’t get accepted as a painter or legitimate entertainer, so he sets out to conquer the world? Yep, it’s that same old story again.

Not rated. Opens Friday at the Opera Plaza Cinema.

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