The highly timely CBS Home Entertainment December 10, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 Showtime Original Limited Series "The Loudest Voice" includes everything that you every wanted to know about Fox News Channel former driving force/CEO Roger Ailes but did not know to ask. The source material is the book "The Loudest Voice in the Room" and the New York Times articles on Ailes by "Voice" writer/co-executive producer Gabriel Sherman.
This series with strong relevance to the highly toxic political environment that has plagued us since Fox News launched in the mid-90s provides a road map to the current impeachment proceedings; this connection with the Trump administration makes "Voice" a good companion to fellow (reviewed) Showtime series "Our Cartoon President," which proves that fact is funnier than fiction.
The following trailer for "Voice" shows the amazing portrayal of portly, ugly, rude, crude, and socially unacceptable Ailes by once gorgeous matinee idol Russell Crowe.
"Voice" earns its chops right from the opening scenes that are an apt homage to "Citizen Kane." We see an off-screen Ailes fall to his death with a bottle of pills spilling out on the bathroom floor as a substitute for the dropped snowglobe. We also get an utterance that is the Ailes version of Rosebud. The "Kane" analogy extends to both men coming from modest backgrounds.
The homage continues with the action shifting to the 1995 firing of Ailes from his executive position at CNBC due to a sexual harassment scandal. Proving that you cannot keep a not-so-good man down, Ailes quickly executes his golden-parachute exit strategy by joining forces with odd but-not-so-strange bedfellow Rupert Murdoch to begin the launch of Fox News. Ailes convincing Team Murdoch of the value of Fox News catering to the flown-over conservative majority is no surprise to anyone with enough interest in Ailes to watch "Loudest."
The unconventional and relatively modest site of the first Fox News studio has a not-so-subtle video killed the radio star vibe. This leads to selecting the rookie team that includes Sean Hannity and comes to expand to other Fox News stars such as Glen Beck and Bill O'Reilly. Learning about the "before they were stars" careers of these guys and their partners-in-right-wing-propaganda contributes wonderful humor.
"Voice" has a Hitchcockian tone in that our lead is an obese older man shamelessly preying on pretty blondes decades younger than him. A scene in which Ailes essentially tells a woman with on-air ambitions that she must pay the price for that coveted job is one of the most creepy scenes in a series full of literally cringe-worthy moments.
Ala "Kane," much of "Voice" depicts the descent of Ailes into madness and the related inflation of his already large ego. He repeatedly reminds Murdoch pere et fils that Ailes is why Fox News fills their coffers so well. In fairness to Ailes, many men of a certain age reasonably can resent being ordered to report to "the kids."
"Voice" depicts 911 as the tipping point for Ailes; that prompts him to think on a macro level that America faces a daily strong threat of terrorist attacks and on a mocro level that the radicals literally are out gunning for him. This prompting Ales to move former subordinate/current spouse Elizabeth Ailes (Sienna Miller) and their young son Zachery to small-town Garrison, New York to be near the West Point Military Academy sets off a whole other chain of events that include trying to induct a Yalie into the cult of Ailes (and perhaps the bed of Beth).
We also see prominent "MeToo" figure Ailes continue to relentlessly harass and torment several blonde women at Fox when he is not violently clashing with high-level executives that include media-relations head Brian Lewis (Seth MacFarlane). MacFarlane surprisingly playing Lewis straight and with the proper tone is a nice surprise in "Voice."
A scene between Ailes and Bush administration member Karl Rove arguably is the genesis of the relationship between Fox News and Trump, who arguably owes his cartoon presidency to that network. A scene between Ailes and Trump former insider/future guest of the state Roger Stone reinforces that continuum.
The coverage of Obama fully shows the blatant bias of Fox News. This includes several on-air statements that put Ailes in the Murdoch dingohouse and that prompt open warfare between Obama and Fox News.
Much of the final two episodes of "Voice" channels "Kane" in that Ailes becoming even more manic and paranoid drives away Lewis and others who had been hanging in there out of a blend of greed, loyalty, and a history of some success talking Ailes off the ledge. Murdoch giving the kids much greater power with consulting Ailes does not help matters.
The other big story is Gretchen Carlson (Naomi Watts) first building her sexual-harassment case against Ailes and then filing it. The lesson to Ailes this time is that Hell hath no fury like a woman increasingly scorned.
All of this coincides with the physical condition of an already-not-so-healthy Ailes rapidly deteriorating. Depictions of Ailes either bargaining for literal forbidden sweets or gorging on them ala the obese German boy in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" further shows his problem with any form of delayed gratification.
All of this wraps up as Ailes learns that hard way that everyone has his or her limits. The tragedy in not in the death of this guy but in his failure to learn the lesson of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
The DVD bonus feature "Creating the Loudest Voice" has Crowe, Watts, and MacFarlane (as well as Sherman) discussing their dedication to telling it as it is. Whether that depiction is fair-and-balanced is an individual determination.