Fox News is one of the most successful media networks in the world. Heavily criticized for featuring controversial commentators such as Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, Fox News has been and remains the most watched news channel in America.
The mastermind behind the success of Fox News is none other that Roger Ailes, the polarizing figure who built Fox News from the ground and targeted the conservative base of America for its viewership. Ailes was without question a power-hungry, controlling influencer who had a staunch determination in not only becoming one of the most powerful individuals in the entire media industry, but by channeling his conservative views to the world.
Ailes was voted by the executive board of Fox in 2016 to step down from the role of CEO due to a large number of sexual assault and harassment allegations that dated back to the very beginning of his time with Fox. He later died a few months afterwards from a brain injury.
Showtime adapts the New York Times reports on Ailes and Gabriel Shermann’s bestselling book “The Loudest Voice in the Room’ about how Ailes built Fox News and influenced American politics heavily in doing so in the mini-series “The Loudest Voice.”
Leading the series is the masterful Russell Crowe, who portrays Ailes with such ferocity and vigor that it becomes intoxicating to witness. Crowe gives the absolute best performance of his career, demonstrating the versatile abilities he has as an actor. There are a few scenes throughout the seven-part series where Crowe delivers a line so perfectly, shouts so fiercely and commands the attention of the audience so strongly that we feel as if we’re watching the resurrected Roger Ailes himself.
This is a show that belongs to Crowe and who carries every episode and every scene beautifully. He is absolutely flawless and unfiltered in his performance and depicts such a controversial figure with raging confidence. The fact that the same actor who played Maximus in “Gladiator” nearly twenty years ago can play an overweight, old-aged businessman is a testament to the talent of Russell Crowe.
The series not only depicts how brilliant Ailes was in his creation of Fox News, but also how manipulative and controlling he was of his employees and the psychological abuse he caused to his female employees, many of which he sexually assaulted and harassed. Most notably is Gretchen Carlson, whose brave legal takedown of Ailes sparked the modern “Me Too” movement and forever changed the environment surrounding the workplace.
The outstandingly talented and beautiful Naomi Watts gives yet another terrific performance as Gretchen Carlson. While her character is underused for most of the series, Watts is able to bring a dominating force to her role that is impossible to turn away from. Given that Watts is terrific in every role she plays and is able to generate so much raw emotion effortlessly, the series is misguided in limiting how much we get to see of her.
Sienna Miller also does fantastic work in portraying Roger Ailes’ naive and fiercely loyal wife Beth. The marriage between these two had a lot of potential to be further explored, but for the most part Beth is seen as Roger’s toy, another woman he has complete dominance over, yet one who doesn’t seem to have any issues with it.
“The Loudest Voice” struggles with its style. Virtually whenever anyone is introduced we get a freeze-frame with the title and brief bio of the real-life figure being introduced, which after episode one feels corny. The editing is very strong in that its able to bring scenes together very neatly and orderly, but every episode feels too much like a depiction of real-life events, taking us away from any authenticity of storytelling.
Despite the errors, “The Loudest Voice” is a fascinating piece of television. Roger Ailes is portrayed honestly through his words and actions, a man who, while arguably one of the most brilliant businessmen and influencers in modern history, was undeniably sexist, manipulative, racist and dishonest. Whether that be the infamous abuses he committed towards women, his fear-mongering tactics that made Fox News so addicting to watch or his bias media strategies that favored conservatives, Ailes was a morally-flawed, yet widely successful mastermind whose legacy will no doubt live on forever.
Shining on how Ailes influenced the Trump victory through his coverage on Fox, “The Loudest Voice” connects the past to the present and honestly admits how successful Ailes was in achieving his goals.
The series knows exactly what it wants to say about Ailes and has a cast that is completely on board with the visions of their characters, an arrangement that allows this show to not only be superbly entertaining, but vitally important.
Final Grade: A-
Dominic LeRose is a staff writer for the Daily Cardinal. To read more of his work, click here.