“The Loudest Voice” centers on the rise and fall of Fox News founder Roger Ailes, but the upcoming Showtime miniseries could also be seen as a prequel to the rise of Donald Trump, says showrunner Alex Metclaf.
“Without Fox News, there is no President Donald Trump,” Metcalf told TheWrap. “Roger, as sort of the progenitor of the modern partisan era, created the world we live in now. We were really conscious of that all the time.”
The series, which Metcalf expects willrile up some conservatives, shows how Ailes (Russell Crowe) built Fox News into a cable news behemoth and in the process ushered in the “hot take” era in political news. At one point early in the series, Ailes says that “people don’t want to be informed, they want to feel informed.” Metcalf says much of the current political climate can be traced back to Ailes’ influence.
“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to tell this story,” he said. “So many people are like, ‘How did we get here?’ Even the people that are deeply supportive of Trump… as happy as they are, I think they also think, like, ‘Wow, how did we get here? It’s fantastic,’ while other people are like, ‘How did we get here? It’s disastrous.’ But all of us are like, ‘How did we get here?’ A lot of the series to me is answering that question.”
“The Loudest Voice,” based on former New York magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman’s bestselling book, “The Loudest Voice in the Room,” will also address the sexual harassment accusations and monetary settlements that brought Ailes’ Fox News reign to an end. Shortly after he left Fox News amid allegations of sexual misconduct, he was briefly an advisor for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Ailes died from complications of a head injury 2017, three days before his 77th birthday.
“He understood the power of Trump, profoundly I think, in a way that nobody else did until suddenly, he won,” said Metcalf. “I think he was less surprised [that Trump won] than the rest of us. I think he understood the power that Trump holds in front of a camera better than anyone else.”
Metcalf said they always tried to “stick to the historical record,” given that they had more than 600 interviews from Sherman’s book to go on. He said Sherman and his wife, journalist Jennifer Stahl, were “in the room with us.”
“They were always there to check us,” he said.
He said most of the changes the writers made were to “shift moments in time, in order to make dramatic sense.”
“We were constantly limited by the historical record, and on some level it helps, because it gives you a clear line. On the other hand, it’s not helpful at all, because it’s like, how do you make that undramatic thing dramatic? It was definitely a dance that went on the whole time as we wrote and re-wrote and shifted and discovered what the story was.”
“The Loudest Voice” premieres Sunday, June 30 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.