Now that Roger Ailes has gone to the great place where all are equal (i.e.: nowhere) we’ll have a few days of people trying to burnish his reputation on the way out. The valkyries will not come to take him to valhalla, though.
Then, a month or two from now, the drip will start and it’ll drip for about a year.
The drip will be the “Renfields” – not valkyries – the submissive enabler servants, who have finally realized that their lord and master cannot hurt or reward them anymore, so it’s finally safe to dish a great big shovelful of dirt.
Where will it start? We don’t know. Maybe it’ll be a former business partner who comes clean about vast fortunes that were buried away. Or maybe it’ll be an abuse victim. Or, worse, someone who pimped for him. Remember Cosby’s Renfield, Frank Scotti, who came clean after he turned 90 and the jig was already up for Cosby?
“I felt like a pimp,” Scotti, 90, told Kate Snow in an interview that aired on TODAY Monday. “Every time he had somebody I had to watch, I had the girl stay there. I felt dirty.”[today]
(That’s Frank Scotti) I bet you did, Frank. But … money…
I’m fascinated by the “don’t speak ill of the dead” mindset. Admittedly, the best time to speak ill of someone is while they are alive, to their face: maybe they’ll cry. The second best time is when they’re dead.
It seems to be me that christianity is partly to blame for society’s attitude: they seem to think there’s a ghost of someone hanging around, or maybe if they’re down in hell they’ll hear you dishing on them and scream a little harder. That doesn’t make any sense, either – if there’s a god and a heaven and hell, then whether we tell the truth about them before or after they are dead is completely irrelevant.
And then there are the dishonest ones, who know deep in their hearts that there is no heaven or hell, and do whatever the heck they can get away with while they are alive, still pretending that they’ll be forgiven and it’ll all be OK. Then, once they’re old and the finish-line is coming into sight, they suddenly rediscover honesty. What blows my mind is that they are not utterly reviled for doing so – for example: Warren Buffet, age 86, finally realizes that he’s got tremendous tax advantages and maybe it’s uncool that his secretary pays more in taxes than he does. Really, Warren? Why don’t you write a fat check to the IRS going back 50 years, then? No, it’s “the finish line is in sight so I don’t care anymore.” Shorter form: “hahahaha! I got mine!”
There are other cases of “finish line syndrome” that are more egregious and disgusting than Buffet, of course. There always are. Perhaps you remember the murder of Emmett Till in 1955 – a brutal and vicious killing that helped spark the civil rights revolution in the US – it turns out that, with the finish line in sight, the woman who got Till killed decided to admit she lied. Carolyn Bryant, whose lie caused a bunch of racist white assholes to torture-murder a beautiful 14-year-old boy, waited until she was 72 to admit that it was all a story: 50 years. [vf] Or, you can watch Fog Of War [wikipedia] and see brilliant Robert MacNamara, still sharp as a fragment of artillery shell, recalling in comfort all of the choices of the Vietnam War but never, not once, uttering the words “I was wrong.”
My dad’s told me that it’s part of growing older. As the people around you start dropping, some of them get busy polishing their halos. Then he said, the time to do that is when you’re making your decisions.
I hit a deer at 70mph last year, and it got me thinking a bit about my own death. So I did ponder “what will people say?” My feeling is that it’ll be net neutral. There’ll be some people who think I was a real asshole (and: fuck them!) and a few who may say something like that I saved their lives. I’m trying to leave as little a footprint behind me as possible – my view of history is that the “great men” are mostly great fuckups: Churchill, Bonaparte, Hitler, Bush, Obama, Nixon, Temujin – we remember them not because their deeds were particularly clear one way or another. I wish I had the skills of a Michaelangelo or a Caravaggio (but I don’t) because perhaps art works like they left are one place where you can leave a legacy that is nearly pure. Like a great guitar solo, or a scientific discovery. But nothing is completely free of context, or it’s also free from being interesting. I suppose if I could really have a wish it’d be to leave a legacy like some of the great Japanese sword-makers: a thing of perfect beauty and functionality that is morally neutral yet desirable for its own sake. But I’m actually OK not leaving a legacy like that.
If you’re dealing with a completely ruthless tyrant, then definitely wait to speak ill of them until after they’re dead. You shouldn’t ruin your life to give them the pleasure of crushing yours. Although, Charlotte Cordray’s approach is another one: make them dead then say your piece about them. It worked for Marcus Brutus!