Right in sync with the meltdown of America's subsidized mortgage giants comes still more evidence the nation's vaunted free market is broken: Fox News Channel chief Roger Ailes just took home a $4.5 million performance bonus, bringing his total annual compensation to $20 million. It's true, as Silicon Alley Insider points out, that Fox News retains a wide overall lead over CNN, with 1.5 million viewers per day. But annual bonuses are supposed to reflect performance over the past year, and by that measure this one is a bizarre waste of money.

Ailes' channel has been flagging over the past 12 months. Fox News is rapidly losing ground among the younger viewers most coveted by advertisers as MSNBC and CNN more cleverly exploit the presidential campaign season.

Ailes' utter failure, meanwhile, to control Fox News' snarling, smearing attack-dog PR department has been an embarrassment to his boss Rupert Murdoch, who has apparently resorted to trying to appease the once-despised Times with scoops to clean up the mess.

Ailes' bonus is a dumb use of News Corporation's money, which perhaps makes it slightly less of a weeping tragedy for lefties.

[Silicon Alley Insider]