In moments of candor, Ailes would admit that his network’s real motto, as he saw it, was to be “fair and balancing.” It was a worthy goal, particularly if you think the core task of journalism is something more than a liberal piety about afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.

But that’s not what Fox News became. There are real journalists at the network, and serious programs, and regular contributors who add value to the intellectual life of the country. Nobody would mistake them for the heart of Fox.

Nor does the network have any fixed set of ideas that it seeks to champion or disseminate, other than an ostentatious patriotism that has the distinct feel of a marketing campaign.

What Fox is mainly in the business of doing is hating the left. In the manner of Ailes himself, its convictions stem from its resentments — and shift accordingly. It is sympathetic to military intervention when the left is against it (Iraq) and hostile when the left is for it (Libya); anti-Russia when President Obama was reaching out to Russia, pro-Russia when Obama started getting tough on the Kremlin.