CNN Panel: New Book on Roger Ailes Won't Change Any Minds About Fox News

January 11th, 2014 2:16 PM

During Wednesday night's edition of Piers Morgan Live on the Cable News Network, a panel of four media analysts joined their liberal host in agreement that The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News -- and Divided a Country, a new book written by New York Magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman, will not have much impact on readers' views of that cable network.

“People who are skeptical of Fox News are going to read this book and are going to be sure, once and for all, that Fox News is an arm of the Republican Party,” said media critic Brian Stetler of the New York Times. However, Amy Holmes -- a host on TheBlaze TV -- asserted that the book is filled with “pretty thin gruel.”

Morgan began the discussion by asking: “What are the main revelations in this that people are going to be gorging over?”

Stetler responded that Fox News says it’s not part of the GOP, and “Ailes denies a lot of the allegations in the book, but there are stories after stories after stories in this book about how Roger Ailes is interested in influencing Republican politics and, frankly, in beating Barack Obama."

“Ailes failed a year and a half ago, but I think the book will get to those roots,” Stetler continued. “He’s told his inner circle for the upcoming election, ‘I want to elect the next president.’”

“Of course, if you’re a Fox fan or a fan of Roger Ailes, you’re not going to believe a word of it anyway,” Stetler concluded.

The liberal host then stated: “I think it’s interesting about Roger Ailes, that you can be totally against everything Fox stands for while appreciating he’s some kind of genius” who is “phenomenally successful.”

Morgan then noted:

In some of the key revelations of the book, Bill O’Reilly is a “book salesman with a TV show.” I’m not sure how Bill O’Reilly will react to that.

He called Brian Kilmeade, one of their morning hosts, “a soccer coach from Long Island.” And so on. Nothing surprising to me that Roger Ailes would be like that. But is it damaging, this book, or does it simply add to the myth?

“I think there are some damaging revelations,” noted CNN political contributor Ryan Lizza. ”When a book first comes out, the sort of sexiest revelations always get the most attention.” 

“I guarantee when you read this book, which I haven’t, I admit, that it will be a fair-minded account that will give Ailes his due for what he created at Fox News, which I don’t think anyone can argue is sort of an amazing accomplishment,” he said.

Lizza then stated: “I know the author of this book, Gabe Sherman. He’s one of the best reporters I know working in journalism today. Not a partisan bone in his body.”

After noting that Sherman will “show a lot of negative things about Ailes” because the author “does not pull his punches,” Lizza added that “there’s going to be a bit of the concerted campaign” against Sherman by people at the Fox News Channel.

“I don’t think so,” interjected Marc Lamont Hill, an associate professor at Teachers College of Columbia University.

“Really?” Lizza asked before asserting that “I think it’s started already.”

Hill then said: “I think you’ll see some response, but I think largely they’re going to ignore it.”

The third panelist then continued:

The people who like Fox News don’t like it because they think Roger Ailes is a good guy. It’s because they tell the story that they want to hear. I think that continues.

The people who hate Fox News will just have more ammunition to hate Fox News. So I don’t think you’ll see any large shift in how the public responds to this.

“I don’t think people will be disappointed in Fox News because they don’t expect much,” Hill grumbled.

Holmes responded: “It seems to me that if these are the juiciest bits that are in this book, it’s pretty thin gruel. This just in -- Roger Ailes is a television genius.”

Morgan concluded the segment by quoting a statement from executives at the Fox News Channel: “These charges are false. While we have not read the book, the only reality here is that Gabe was not provided any direct access to Roger Ailes, and the book was never fact-checked with Fox News.”

As NewsBusters previously reported, the staff at the New York Times “was already aglow” over a preview copy of Sherman’s book when Wednesday’s Business Day section carried the headline “Biography Casts Critical Light on Fox News Chief.”

However, when a more positive biography of Ailes came out, 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,” and the reviewer suggested that the first book was merely a "prebuttal" of the roaring “Gabriel Sherman Tank” to come.