Gabriel Sherman's forthcoming biography of Roger Ailes reveals a pattern of misogyny and sexism from the Fox News CEO. The Loudest Voice in the Room documents numerous examples from Ailes during his years working in television, both on Fox and elsewhere.
Media Matters and others have noted that Fox News' on-air programming has a long history of sexism which mirrors a culture at Fox News and its parent company (previously News Corporation, now 21st Century Fox).
Sherman's reporting confirms Ailes' obsession with displaying his female anchors' legs on Fox programs. The topic of the dress code and makeup of Fox News' female personalities has long been the subject of scrutiny among writers. Fox News host Gretchen Carlson recently admitted that "pants were not allowed on Fox & Friends."
In addition to the allegation that Ailes once offered to increase a female producer's salary in exchange for sex, Sherman's book features several examples of Ailes' sexism.
A new book depicts Fox News CEO Roger Ailes as deeply paranoid about a new biography, his Fox News employees, his rivals, and of course President Obama.
The revelations come in New York magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman's forthcoming book The Loudest Voice in the Room, which Media Matters obtained in advance of its Tuesday release.
Fox and Ailes have been doing their best to hamstring Sherman's book for years. After Sherman's biography was first announced in 2011, Ailes initially moved to preempt it by writing his memoir with help from Fox News contributor Jim Pinkerton. When the project failed to materialize, he instead cooperated with conservative journalist Zev Chafets' 2013 book Roger Ailes, Off Camera, reportedly "because he was eager to preempt Sherman's version with a more favorable and hopefully sympathetic account of his legacy." The final product was widely derided as a hagiography intended to undermine Sherman's own biography, but numerous Fox News personalities praised the book, and Chafets was afforded ample airtime on Fox properties.
As the book's publication approached, Fox News fired Brian Lewis, the network's top communications executive and reportedly a close Ailes confidante. At the time, the network claimed the dismissal was due to "financial irregularities" involving Lewis, but Gawker later quoted a separate executive calling those claims "complete bullshit" and explaining that Fox was worried Lewis had been leaking information to Sherman. Lewis features prominently in the book's narrative.
Meanwhile, Fox personalities have kept up a steady stream of invective against Sherman, describing him as a "phoney journalist" and an "embarrassment."
Sherman provides new details on Fox's war on his book, explaining how Ailes "discouraged sources close to him from speaking with me and went to elaborate lengths to obstruct my reporting" and that the network created such a culture of fear around cooperating with the book that employees worried they would be "destroy[ed]" if Fox found out they were involved with it.
Aside from fostering fear about Sherman's biography, Ailes' rampant paranoia manifests itself in many other ways in The Loudest Voice in the Room. Ailes reportedly used to have an employee sit in meetings and write down the names of everyone present to intimidate any potential leakers; thought that he might be jailed if President Obama was re-elected; believes climate change is a "conspiracy" by "foreign nationals"; and wanted bombproof glass set up in his office to protect him from "homosexual activists."
The book is rife with examples of Ailes' paranoia and vindictiveness. Some of the lowlights are below.
For more than a year, Fox News has waged an intense campaign to discredit Gabriel Sherman's forthcoming biography of network CEO Roger Ailes. A review of the book, which Media Matters obtained in advance of its Tuesday release, reveals that the network was right to be worried.
Among other revelations, Sherman reports that Ailes agreed with Glenn Beck's infamous remark that President Obama has "a deep-seated hatred for white people"; Ailes thinks Navy SEALs should "have to personally kill an illegal immigrant" as part of their certification; Ailes allegedly offered an employee a salary increase if she would have sex with him on demand; and Ailes once called a rival executive "a little fucking Jew prick."
The first details from Sherman's The Loudest Voice in the Room generated serious press attention this week, including the news that Ailes tried to gear Fox's 2012 coverage to "elect the next president."
Sherman has been the target of attacks on his credibility from both Fox personalities -- who have labeled him a "phoney journalist" and an "embarrassment" -- and Ailes himself. The attacks on Sherman will likely intensify around the book's release, given Fox's notoriously merciless public relations team.
Why so much effort by the network to suppress a book? Because Sherman's The Loudest Voice in the Room is filled with revelations about Ailes that would never be reported in hagiographies like Zev Chafets' Ailes-sanctioned bio that was published last year (a book that Ailes reportedly cooperated with as a way to preempt Sherman's book).
Sherman paints an unflattering portrait of Ailes as a vindictive, paranoid partisan who has risen to become possibly the most important conservative in the country by using his top-rated cable news network as a clearinghouse for Republican propaganda.
Fox News reporter John Roberts believes the Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) bridge story has the potential to be "very damaging" because "unlike what's happened with President Obama" and the controversy in which the IRS allegedly targeted conservatives, Christie's scandal happened in his "living room."
Recently released communications have revealed that a top aide to Christie urged a top transportation official who is a high school friend of Christie to close lanes onto the George Washington Bridge as political retribution against a Democratic mayor who didn't endorse Christie's re-election bid. The lane closures caused a massive four day traffic jam. Christie announced during a press conference today that he fired the aide in question.
During an appearance today on Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends prior to the press conference, Roberts said that the scandal "has the potential to be very damaging to Gov. Christie because, you know, unlike what's happened with President Obama -- you know, the IRS thing was a woman who was in Cleveland. This is in the governor's living room. This is his deputy chief of staff. And as you mentioned his best friend who he went to high school with. It's difficult for him to be able to fully separate himself from this without at least giving the appearance that he doesn't know what's going on in his own home."
He added that the scandal "reinforces the worst perceptions about Gov. Christie. It makes it look like a Tony Soprano-type of administration. And while people in New Jersey appreciate many of the things that the governor has done, on the national level, if you want to run for president, you can't look like this is the way that your administration would operate. "
On the day the scandal broke, Fox devoted significantly less coverage to the story than CNN and MSNBC. Fox's coverage should provide an indication of the network's hot and cold relationship with Christie, a potential 2016 presidential candidate who Fox News chairman Roger Ailes urged to seek the presidency in 2012 and who has previously enjoyed fawning coverage across the media.
Fox News hosted former Bush Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to promote the importance of companies paying attention to cybersecurity without disclosing that Ridge heads lobbying and consulting firms that work on cybersecurity.
Ridge appeared as a guest on the January 8 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends. Co-host Brian Kilmeade asked him about "one of your real expertise ... what about cybersecurity as it compares to Al Qaeda?" Ridge responded that cybersecurity is a threat and "companies have to pay a lot more attention at the C-suite level to make sure that they are prepared to deal with it because it's happening every day."
Ridge heads several companies that work on cybersecurity:
Ridge is also the chair of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's National Security Task Force, which "is responsible for the development and advancement of Chamber policy related to homeland security and national security" including on "priorities related to cyber security."
Additionally, Ridge sits on the advisory board of TaaSERA, "a cyber security company" that "builds runtime behavior detection solutions used by the world's leading companies and government agencies."
Random House has begun rolling out New York reporter Gabriel Sherman's unauthorized biography of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes for its January 21 release. For more than a year, Fox News has attempted to discredit the book by attacking Sherman with vitriolic online attacks ("stalker," "embarrassment," "PHONEY JOURNALIST") and by reportedly helping with a counterbiography and firing a top Fox executive.
Sherman's The Loudest Voice in the Room states it draws on "more than 600 interviews with people who've known Ailes over his remarkable five-decade career as well as a rich variety of other sources" and "documents Ailes's tactical acuity as he battles with the press, business rivals, and countless real and perceived enemies inside and outside Fox."
Fox News reportedly attempted to counterbalance Sherman's book by working with Zev Chafets on an Ailes-friendly biography. Politico reported that Ailes agreed to cooperate with Chafets' biography "because he was eager to preempt Sherman's version with a more favorable and hopefully sympathetic account of his legacy." Fox News was clearly happy with Chafets' final work, as numerous Fox News personalities praised the book, and Chafets was afforded ample airtime on Fox properties.
Fear over Sherman's book was also reportedly a factor in Ailes' firing of Fox News vice president Brian Lewis. Gawker reported that "Lewis was paid approximately $8 million in hush money" and quoted an unnamed Fox News executive stating of the separation: "Everything was about Gabe Sherman." The source "further explained that, up until the day of Lewis's dismissal, the channel's public relations division, which Lewis oversaw, had suffered from heated internal disagreements about how to properly handle Sherman's book." The Hollywood Reporter wrote that "rumors have swirled that Lewis also was suspected of helping Gabe Sherman."
2013 got off to a promising start when perennial conservative huckster Dick Morris was finally fired from Fox News.
But any hope for year free from scandal unraveled as conservative outlets like Fox, and venerable institutions like CBS and CNN, found themselves mired in ethical morasses of their own making.
Media Matters looks back at the year in media ethics:
In response to unprecedented Republican obstructionism, Senate Democrats have voted to change Senate rules regarding the filibustering of most presidential nominees. Media Matters looks back at the numerous conservatives who, during the Bush administration, decried filibustering and supported the tactic Democrats have now enacted.
Dan Rather has broken his silence about the controversy engulfing CBS over its retracted Benghazi report, remarking that he hopes his former employer will "be completely transparent about it and tell what happened, and why it happened."
Discussing correspondent Lara Logan's role and culpability, Rather said: "It's in the nature of these large corporations that when the stuff hits the fan, they want to blame the correspondent. Whatever happened, and if there's any blame, whatever blame there is, has to start at the top of the corporation and go through the leadership of the news division. It isn't just Lara Logan, whom I know and, you know, I support her on a personal basis through this because it's a difficult thing to go through."
He added: "I don't think this story is over. I do think there'll be a lot more. As you know, the gentleman who turned out to have lied about this took his story first to Fox News, and then Fox News took a look and I think partly because he wanted money, turned it down."
Rather, who was guesting on Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends, prefaced his remarks by saying that CBS is "having so much difficulty with this story, and there's so many difficult questions. I don't want to add to their difficulty."
Rather, along with several other CBS News staffers, lost their jobs in the wake of controversy over a 2004 story about President Bush's service in the Air National Guard. One of the fired staffers, former 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes, told Media Matters last week that the recent Benghazi story "was done very pointedly to appeal to a more conservative audience's beliefs about what happened at Benghazi."
CBS announced on November 13 that it is conducting a "journalistic review" of the report, but the parameters and details of that review are currently ambiguous. CBS' handling of its botched Benghazi report has drawn sharp criticism from media observers and journalists, and stands in stark contrast to its reaction to Rather's 2004 report.
From the November 14 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
60 Minutes has been the subject of intense criticism for its since-retracted report on the September 2012 Benghazi attacks, including for the network's failure to disclose that the subject of its segment wrote a book for CBS' publishing arm. An examination of past 60 Minutes episodes finds two other instances this year in which the news program failed to disclose it was promoting a CBS-published book.
On October 27, 60 Minutes ran its now discredited segment featuring the story of security contractor Dylan Davies about the night of the attacks. The segment promoted Davies' book Embassy House, which was released two days after the story aired. During the segment, correspondent Lara Logan did not disclose that the book was published by CBS subsidiary Simon & Schuster. (The publisher has since pulled the book from shelves.)
Logan and Jeffrey Fager, CBS News chairman and 60 Minutes executive producer, both expressed regret to The New York Times over the lack of disclosure, with Logan calling it a "mistake" and an "oversight." Still, 60 Minutes has yet to apologize on-air for failing to note the corporate connection.
The October 27 Benghazi segment wasn't the only time that CBS failed its own oversight standard when discussing books published by affiliated companies.