New York Times Already Aglow With Its Preview Copy of New Roger Ailes-Bashing Book

The top of Wednesday’s Business Day section of The New York Times carried the headline “Biography Casts Critical Light on Fox News Chief.” New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman has finally finished his anti-Roger Ailes book, which was supposed to come out last May. It's titled "The Loudest Voice In The Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News -- And Divided a Country." America was entirely unified under a liberal media spell until 1996, apparently.

Reporters Julie Bosman and Bill Carter insisted “the book says” that Ailes was “disdainful of even his most bankable on-air talent, privately calling Bill O’Reilly ‘a book salesman with a TV show’ and Brian Kilmeade, a peppy Fox host, ‘a soccer coach from Long Island.’” Notice there’s not a named source to back this up, just “the book says.”

Bosman and Carter began: “Roger Ailes was so eager to influence national politics that in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, he told fellow Fox News executives point-blank: ‘I want to elect the next president.’”

As we all know, liberal media people have never, ever tried to elect a president. Just ask Obama. He's never heard of such a thing.

“Mr. Sherman said in the source notes that he interviewed 614 people who knew or worked with Ailes for the book, which took more than three years to report and write. More than 100 pages are devoted to source notes and bibliography,” the Times reporters explained.

But the sources are often anonymous, and sometimes the named sources make wild charges. Their next sentence? “Former employees cited in the book talked of Mr. Ailes's volatile temper and domineering behavior. In one anecdote, a television producer, Randi Harrison, told Mr. Sherman that while negotiating her salary with Mr. Ailes at NBC in the 1980s, he offered her an additional $100 each week ‘if you agree to have sex with me whenever I want.’”

This is obviously not the New York Times that wouldn’t dignify the women claiming affairs with Bill Clinton.


Ailes is also painted as willing to toss anti-Semitic slurs to get ahead:

The book also describes an explosive episode dating back to 1995, when Mr. Ailes was a high-ranking executive at NBC and locked in a power struggle with another executive, David Zaslav.

At a company dinner, according to the book, Mr. Ailes made clear he was ready to do battle with Mr. Zaslav. ''Let's kill the S.O.B.,'' he told his dining companions, Mr. Sherman writes. At a separate meeting with Mr. Zaslav, the book says, Mr. Ailes was said to have unleashed a vulgar, anti-Semitic slur at his rival.

That episode was promptly investigated, at NBC's behest, by a partner from the firm Proskauer Rose, Mr. Sherman writes. The partner concluded in his internal report that he believed the allegation that Mr. Ailes made an anti-Semitic remark -- an obscene phrase with the words ''little'' and ''Jew'' -- was true. Bob Wright, the former chairman and chief executive of NBC who was Mr. Ailes's boss at the time, is quoted in the book as saying, ''My conclusion was that he probably said it.'' Mr. Sherman also cites documentation from the investigation.

Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Ailes specifically denied using an anti-Semitic slur against Mr. Zaslav.

Mr. Zaslav, now the chief executive of Discovery and one of the most powerful executives in television, also denied it. ''We fought with each other and we fought with a lot of other people,'' he said Tuesday in a phone interview. ''But this allegation is false.'' He added that he and Mr. Ailes were now friends.

In his source notes, Mr. Sherman quotes Mr. Zaslav as denying the episode.

Wait a minute. Sherman quotes Zaslav’s denial ... in the notes section? Not in the book content itself? Does that sound like fairness in action?

When a more positive biography of Ailes came out, written with the cooperation of Ailes by Zev Chafets, the Times put that story on page C-4 on March 7, 2013. The headline was "One Book About Roger Ailes Gets a Jump on Another." Media reporter Brian Stelter suggested the first book was merely a "prebuttal" of the roaring Gabriel Sherman Tank to come.

Sometime after Mr. Sherman began working on his book, Mr. Ailes agreed to cooperate with Mr. Chafets, whose previous books include a favorable biography of Rush Limbaugh. Within the television industry, Mr. Chafets's book is widely seen as an attempt to get out ahead of Mr. Sherman's book. (Perhaps the better word for it is "prebuttal," a word political operatives sometimes use).

Michio Kikutani’s withering book review of Chafets did make the business section's front page twelve days later, on March 19:

The overall book, however, reads like a long, soft-focus, poorly edited magazine article. For the most part Mr. Chafets serves as little more than a plastic funnel for Mr. Ailes's observations -- much as he did for Rush Limbaugh in his 2010 book ''Rush Limbaugh: Army of One.'' Although Mr. Chafets supplies a tiny bit of context here and there, he doesn't ask his subject many tough questions about Fox News's incestuous relationship with the Republican Party, its role in accelerating partisanship in our increasingly polarized society or the consequences of its often tabloidy blurring of the lines between news and entertainment.

Obviously, Gabe Sherman can expect a much more favorable Times reception. It's already begun. But all this demonstrates the liberal media elite's ongoing lack of self-awareness. They've never worked to elect a president.They've never had an "incestuous" relationship with a Democratic administration. They've never been responsible for "accelerating partisanship" or a "polarized society." They've never acted as a "plastic funnel" for the observations of their leaders. It's warm and comfortable inside their bubble.

UPDATE: Fox News contacted NewsBusters to insist that we underline that Fox News sent a statement to the New York Times saying that the charges lobbed against Ailes by Sherman about anti-Semitism and paying for sex are false.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis