This piece originally appeared on Linkedin.com.
Roger Ailes’ scandal-marred departure as founding chairman and chief of Fox News after two decades frees him to be a significant player shaping Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and reshaping a badly fractured GOP.
That is if Ailes is contractually available to do it and Republicans are smart enough to ask.
Ailes’ strategic showmanship could go a long way to reposition the inevitable—already evident—creation of four distinct political parties: mainstream Republicans, socially conservative Republicans, moderate Democrats and progressive Democrats. The Constitution, in fact, allows for more than our broken two-party system.
It will take 10 to 20 years, but the Republican Party’s survival hinges on formally dividing into socially conservative and mainstream factions. Bernie Sanders’ progressive run at Hillary Clinton’s moderate dogma already set Democrats down that path.
Such divisions would be a way to more effectively manage and leverage current political discourse along more focused party lines not only in election years but in Congress.
The existing political upheaval and chaos open a door for someone like Roger Ailes.
When Ailes worked for me at NBC building the nation’s first viable business news channel CNBC and America’s Talking (the forerunner to MSNBC), he used his knack for evoking emotion with video. Ailes is a skilled showman—more than a news man—which distinguishes him from others.
Ailes cut his teeth on local TV news and talk shows like Mike Douglas in the 1960s. As a media consultant he instructed Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush how to win elections and capitalize on events—even 9/11. He knew how to choreograph their political success in a video-driven world.
For more on Roger Ailes, watch this Fortune video:
Clearly Republicans especially can’t continue in this disjointed way. If they can’t rally enough to elect Trump president then they will never be able to elect anyone. Crystalizing Trump’s sometimes raw, often convoluted message for voters is right in Ailes’ sweet spot of content strategies and television production. He would know how to repackage the GOP into smaller stronger parties.
Any effort by Ailes could bring potential ironies.
Fox could be a de facto beneficiary of Ailes’ forced departure if he pivots to the political side and helps create even more compelling news coverage for the TV network’s conservative base.
Without Ailes, I don’t think much about Fox News will change. There’s no reason for it to fail. But Fox would do well to replace Ailes with another showman–not a newsman. Fox will have to develop some new tricks to hold on to its audience. There are many top programmers there who could lead the next generation of conservative television news. As time goes Murdoch and his sons, Lachlan and James, will have significant influence over Fox news programming, which is a good thing.
The sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson and subsequent charges from other Fox staffers could impede Ailes’ contributions to the Republic cause—at least outwardly. The bigger-than-life Ailes might have to settle for a far less visible, arm’s length role than he’s accustomed to.
However it comes, Ailes’ behind-the-scenes involvement can’t make things any worse.
Bob Wright, the co-founder of Autism Speaks, previously was vice chairman of General Electric and Chief Executive Officer of NBC and NBC Universal.