Each episode in the miniseries The Loudest Voice revolves around a critical year in Roger Ailes’ (Russell Crowe) career at the head of Fox News. The second episode sees Showtime’s Tom McCarthy adapted production leaps from the creation of the right-wing news channel in 1995 directly to 2001. While the production completely bypasses the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and his administration, the 9/11 attacks are significantly more important than what happened between Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office.
The 9/11 attacks mirror Pearl Harbor in magnitude. The momentous impact these events had on these United States continue to ripple across history. Tuesday, 11 September 2001 is consequently, without doubt, a day of infamy.
The Second Episode: “2001”…
The episode begins in the early hours of that Tuesday morning. We see the reactions of Ailes and the Fox News team. We were all fearful of further attacks. Consequently, Ailes was able to weaponize the trauma of the event to his advantage. In many ways, 9/11 helped Ailes cement Fox News’ political position.
One cannot approach this story carelessly. It requires significant tact. The difficulty of revisiting 9/11 in a drama is respecting the sensitivity of persons that lived through that day. Even though some people might think it too soon, it has been 18-years. There are both fiction and documentary productions which address this day. Despite this point, the families that lost a father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, aunt and friends remain forever impacted.
While The Loudest Voice producers recognise how important being tactful is, actual footage from the day was essential. Consequently, there are images which some views might find disturbing. These are images which will live on in infamy for decades. There was no getting around using such imagery. The imagery used in this second episode speaks greatly to the memory of the day.
Bush at War…
When the Bob Woodward written biography Bush at War was published, Ailes anger at Karl Rove is readily apparent. Ailes’ immediate reaction is telling.
Rove, the White House Chief of Staff, called Ailes to ask him to put ideas down on paper so that he could take them to the president. The memo the Fox News president wrote at Rove’s request was for his eyes only. It was not meant for public consumption.
The Fox News president wants Rove to initially put out a press release lying about the content of Woodward’s book. This is not something Rove is prepared to do.
“The makes me look like I am playing both sides against the middle,” Ailes tells Rove. Rove reminds the Fox News president that he is “playing both sides.”
Ailes quickly resorts to using profane language to express his thoughts to the then White House Chief of Staff. Consequently and not surprisingly, Rove hangs up on Ailes.
Later that day, Ailes speaks with the vice president about Woodward’s book. So that no one in the office is privy to the conversation, Ailes uses a public payphone situated down the block from the Fox News Channel building.
The episode features Simon McBurney, John Rue and Allan Greenberg as Rupert Murdoch, Vice President Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, respectively. Further, there are appearances by Barry Watson, Naomi Watts, Patch Darragh, David Whalen and Peter Grosz, respectively, as Lachlan Murdoch, Gretchen Carlson, Sean Hannity, Steve Doocy and Alan Colmes.
The Showtime miniseries is an adaptation of the Gabriel Sherman written biographical book ‘The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News – and Divided a Country.’