In the opening episode of HBO’s Watchmen, we see a man reading a newspaper, The Tulsa Sun. The front-page headline of the Sun: “Veidt Officially Declared Dead.” The article goes on to discuss the career and disappearance of the masked-vigilante-turned-entrepreneur Adrian Veidt. HBO recently put out the full text of the article for fanboys and fangirls alike, and, boy, girl, there are some interesting insinuations.
For one, it appears Rorschach’s journal, accusing Veidt of criminal behavior, seems to have been immediately mocked and dismissed upon publication. (Veidt, who perpetrated the attack on Manhattan that left millions of New Yorkers dead seems to have gotten away from the event scot-free, and it appears no one suspects the giant inter-dimensional squid he used for the attack to be, in fact, fake. Cue squid fear.)
Smaller (but no less interesting) Easter eggs include the alternate fates of various real-world media personalities. Ezra Klein, an editor for left-leaning digital publication Vox, is, in Watchmen, President Robert Redford’s press secretary. And Roger Ailes, the former chairman and CEO of Fox News who resigned in 2016 following sexual harassment allegations (and died a year later in 2017), is listed as “president of Newspaper Corporation of America (NCA), parent of New Frontiersman.”
The New Frontiersman (TNF), a newspaper first seen in the Watchmen graphic novel, has been often depicted by characters and in-universe readers as a hawkish, conservative and conspiratorially pro-vigilante paper. It also has other implied affiliations.
In the graphic novel, we find article from TNF, advocating superhero rights. The article features heavy jingoism and accusations of unpatriotic practices from the rival “Marxist-brat-rock-star” paper Nova Express. It also defends masked vigilantes by saying that the Ku Klux Klan “originally came into being because decent people had perfectly reasonable fears for the safety of their persons and belongings when forced into proximity with people from a culture far less morally advanced” (Moore, 276). (Read: white people were correct to fear and later lynch black people.)
As Watchmen writer and showrunner Damon Lindelof, has already stated, part of the mission of his series is exploring white supremacy in America. Lindelof’s aligning of Ailes with TNF may be a not-so-subtle (though incredibly sub-textual) equation of Ailes’ former empire, Fox News, with the sorts of fringe ideologies contained in TNF, namely white nationalism.
See what they did there? Of course, the actual scene lasts for less than two seconds and you can’t find Ailes name on screen. Still, we know it’s there—this isn’t fan fiction, it’s an officially released document from HBO. Like most important details you’ve got to know where to look: beneath the fold.