Gabriel Sherman

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  • Fox News’ Reporting On Fired US Attorney Ignores His Investigation Of Fox News

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN & CHRISTOPHER LEWIS

    In over 40 segments from March 11 through 13 that discussed President Donald Trump’s firing of Preet Bharara, who was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Fox News failed to disclose that Bharara was investigating multiple potential crimes committed by the network, including allegedly hiding financial settlements paid to women who accused former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes of sexual harassment.

  • Trump Reportedly Outraged That CNN Doesn't Cover Him Like Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› CHRISTOPHER LEWIS

    According to sources from New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, President Donald Trump is angry that CNN and CNN chief Jeff Zucker do not grant him the favorable type of coverage he receives from Fox News

    Trump has made it no secret his contempt for CNN, recently lambasting the network’s ratings in a January 24 tweet praising Fox’s inauguration coverage.

    Trump’s tweet comes on the heels of his January 11 attack on CNN’s senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta, refusing to answer the journalist’s questions and calling CNN “fake news.” After the press conference, Acosta was threatened by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who said he would remove Acosta if he treats Trump disrespectfully. The next Sunday, Trump’s team failed to appear on CNN’s Sunday news program, State of the Union, but sent representatives to MSNBC, Fox, CBS, and ABC.

    Trump also attacked the network before and immediately after the election, questioning the credibility of the network, and attacking individual journalists as dumb, lightweights, who aren’t real journalists.

    According to a report from Gabriel Sherman, Trump’s antipathy towards CNN may be personal.Sherman quoted one high-level CNN source as saying, “Trump thinks just because he’s known Jeff that CNN should be covering him like Fox News does”:

    According to people close to both sides, Trump has told White House staffers that he feels personally betrayed by CNN chief Jeff Zucker.

    Trump complains that Zucker should be programming CNN more favorably toward him because of their long relationship, which can be traced back to 2004 when Zucker put The Apprentice on NBC. Trump has also said to White House staffers that Zucker owes him because Trump helped get him the job at CNN.

    According to CNN sources, Trump’s claim that he assisted Zucker in landing the top job at the network is false. Trump seems to have gotten the idea because he praised Zucker to Turner Broadcasting’s then-CEO Phil Kent at a charity dinner in the fall of 2012, a few months before CNN hired Zucker. But CNN sources say Turner had already decided to hire Zucker by that point. “This is entirely personal,” one CNN high-level source said. “Trump thinks just because he’s known Jeff that CNN should be covering him like Fox News does.”

  • Fox News Goes All In On Its Efforts To Be Trump's Shills

    ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Following Megyn Kelly’s announcement that she will be leaving Fox News for NBC, the network moved quickly to install pro-Trump host Tucker Carlson into her prime-time slot. Fox’s move cements its ongoing audition to serve as Trump’s go-to network for spreading his agenda, which has included the network devoting disproportionate airtime to his candidacy, then-Fox News CEO Roger Ailes advising Trump, and network figures shielding and defending him from negative coverage. Trump also retreated to the network toward the end of the campaign, and since his election he has considered or selected a number of Fox News figures to serve in his administration.

  • Fox News Insiders Agree: Megyn Kelly’s Replacement Will Be A Pro-Trump Woman

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reports that according to Fox News insiders, Fox News host Megyn Kelly’s replacement on Fox “will be a pro-Trump conservative.”

    On January 3, Megyn Kelly announced that she will be leaving Fox News for NBC, saying in a statement on her Facebook page, “I have decided to end my time at FNC, incredibly enriched for the experiences I've had."

    According to insiders who spoke with Sherman, “the Murdochs will choose a woman” to replace Kelly in her nightly 9 PM slot, and all agree “that whoever replaces Kelly will be a pro-Trump conservative”:

    Inside Fox News, staffers are speculating over who will replace Kelly. According to insiders I spoke with today, the consensus seems to be that the Murdochs will choose a woman to fill her 9 p.m. time slot. The leading internal contenders include Trish Regan, Shannon Bream, Sandra Smith, and Martha MacCallum. Two sources said Kimberly Guilfoyle is lobbying for the job.

    The one thing Fox insiders are in agreement on is that whoever replaces Kelly will be a pro-Trump conservative. In the wake of Ailes’s ouster, some media observers speculated that 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch wanted to reposition Fox to the center, bringing it more in line with his moderate political views. But the selection of a pro-Trump host to fill Kelly’s slot would suggest that Fox is instead doubling down on its right-wing politics and planning to align itself with the new administration. After initially being hostile to Trump, Murdoch has made moves to curry favor with the president-elect. Fox insiders told me that Murdoch personally named pro-Trump anchor Tucker Carlson to replace Greta Van Susteren at 7 p.m.

    Murdoch’s relationship with Trump has greatly improved since the depths of Trump’s battle with Kelly last year. “I really like Rupert Murdoch!” Trump told guests at Mar-a-Lago over the holidays, according to an attendee. “Roger Ailes was a friend of mine, but Fox’s coverage is so much better since he left.”

    If Fox News’ politics ultimately solidify as more pro-Trump than they were during the campaign, that might be to the benefit of Murdoch’s business interests. According to a well-placed source, Trump has asked Murdoch to submit names for FCC Chairman. Murdoch, another source said, also wants conditions put on the AT&T-Time Warner merger, and he could lobby Trump to make that happen.

  • The Guide To Donald Trump's War On The Press (So Far)

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has an extensive history of attacking the media, and his campaign and supporters have joined in the fight throughout the election. The nominee, his surrogates, and his supporters have called media outlets and reporters across the spectrum “dishonest,” “neurotic,” “dumb,” and a “waste of time,” and until recently, the campaign had a media blacklist of outlets that weren’t allowed into campaign events.

  • Ailes Biographer Gabriel Sherman Expects “Wholesale Housecleaning” At Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Fox News’ forced exit of Roger Ailes in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal is just the beginning of what is expected to be a “wholesale housecleaning” of management in the coming months, according to Gabriel Sherman, the New York magazine writer and Ailes biographer who has been covering the network for the past six years.

    Sherman, who spoke at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Thursday night, said he is still reporting on a “breaking news” story surrounding Fox and believes that major change are ahead.

    “From what I understand talking to people up and down the network is that it’s really in a holding pattern,” Sherman said. “They are looking for a permanent CEO and most likely there will be, after the November election, more of a wholesale housecleaning.”

    Sherman’s appearance followed his blockbuster cover story last week on Ailes that revealed insider accounts of the back story behind former anchor Gretchen Carlson's sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, which she and Fox settled for $20 million earlier this week.

    He took questions from moderator Bill Grueskin, a Columbia journalism professor and a former Wall Street Journal editor, as well as both in-person and online audience members.

    “In the crush of daily headlines it can seem like the story has really played out, but I think we are still in the middle of what I think will be remembered as one of the seismic shifts in the American media landscape,” Sherman told the crowd. “It took just 15 days from when Gretchen Carlson filed her lawsuit for Roger Ailes to be pushed out the door of Fox News, an institution he built and shaped in his image and in the process remade American politics in his image.”

    Sherman also discussed his 2014 Ailes biography, The Loudest Voice in the Room, and how his reporting for that book and New York magazine was often both influential and frightening.

    He cited two women he interviewed for the book, Shelley Ross and Randi Harrison, who recounted their own claims that Ailes sexually harassed them in the 1980s when he produced the Tomorrow show on NBC.

    Sherman said their openness might have affected Gretchen Carlson’s decision to sue.

    “Having these women out there I think gave Gretchen Carlson and her lawyers confidence to file her lawsuit because this was not an isolated incident,” Sherman said. “We had already had on-the-record episodes of sexual harassment.”

    Asked about the revelations that Carlson had secretly recorded some of the most damaging comments by Ailes, Sheman said those audio files could someday be heard in court.

    “My understanding is that those tapes still exist,” Sherman said. “So if there is future litigation, if say another woman should file a lawsuit, they could be subpoenaed in court.”

    Grueskin brought up the 400-page dossier Fox News reportedly created on Sherman and a private investigator they had following him. Sherman said that was not the most frightening moment in his Ailes reporting over the years.

    “I think the scariest moment was at the end of 2012, it was Christmastime, when the website Breitbart, which now is famous for being aligned with Trump, splashed an article about me on the home page that I was being paid by George Soros, and I was, it labeled me a Soros-funded attack dog,” Sherman recounted. “We got a death threat at home, the phone rang and someone very scary on the phone said some very scary things. Ailes, this sort of right-wing machine does this to politicians, but they have security and all this; we don’t even have a doorman at home.”

    He said he filed a police report and had a trip out of town planned anyway, so he and his wife left New York.

    “It was the first time it internalized for me that Ailes is a very powerful man,” Sherman said. “He has access not only to a lot of money, but he had relationships across the media that he could then train and turn on me.”

    He said that kind of fear affected several of the sources he used for the recent New York piece, which included many anonymous voices.

    “I had sources who were so paranoid and scared they would call me from burner phones,” Sherman said of the disposable prepaid phones. “I had sources who would meet me in the strangest of places, in the most anonymous places in Manhattan because they didn’t even want to be talking to me on the telephone.”

    But, he added, “it is not going to deter me from covering what is still a breaking news story.”

    Although he says he has never interviewed Ailes, who has regularly declined, Sherman said if he had the chance to ask one question, it would be: “What are your regrets?”

    Sherman also said he has no interest in filing any legal action against Fox or Ailes for some of their intimidation methods: “The short answer is no. I have been in the trenches on a breaking news story.”

  • Confirmed: Fox News’ Sexual Harassment Investigation Was Just A PR Offensive

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Vanity Fair reported that the internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, launched after former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Ailes, has concluded with a $20 million settlement and a public apology, but without examining “the broader culture of Fox News.” This “relatively swift closure to an ugly chapter,” as Vanity Fair put it, shows that the probe was little more than a pseudo-investigation. The magazine noted that in some ways, it "simply got a revenue machine back on track." And that confirms previous concerns about the impartiality of the investigation, which was handled by Fox News’ parent company.

    After Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit on July 6 against then-Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, Fox’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, retained the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to lead an internal investigation into the claims.

    Some questioned the “firm's independence” and ability to investigate the allegations with impartiality. As The New York Times reported, describing the Paul, Weiss investigation “as an ‘independent’ review commissioned by the company’s board … is not correct” because “The firm was retained by 21st Century Fox not only to investigate but also to provide legal advice.” The Times noted that a “true independent review would preclude legal advice.”

    As the investigation proceeded behind closed doors, media outlets reported that the “harassment and intimidation” inside Fox News “went beyond Mr. Ailes and suggested a broader problem in the workplace.” New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that Fox executives -- including Ailes deputy Bill Shine, who has since been promoted to co-president of Fox News -- were aware of Ailes’ alleged sexual harassment of Fox News employees and said some helped the former network chairman and CEO “cover up” his actions.

    But as news broke that Carlson and 21st Century Fox settled the suit, Vanity Fair reported that “the Paul, Weiss investigation … never officially expanded to examine the broader culture of Fox News.” According to Vanity Fair, Paul, Weiss “was apparently never ordered to scour the company’s hard drives for all evidence of sexual harassment or bawdy culture.”

    The settlement punctuates an important chapter in the Ailes scandal. While the Paul, Weiss investigation interviewed more than 20 women, according to two sources familiar with the process, it never officially expanded to examine the broader culture of Fox News. The firm, according to numerous people familiar with the process, was apparently never ordered to scour the company’s hard drives for all evidence of sexual harassment or bawdy culture. In some ways, according to one person familiar with the process, the Paul, Weiss investigation simply got a revenue machine back on track.

    As New Yorker contributing editor Jeannie Suk Gersen wrote: "“Unlike what reportedly happened around Ailes, neither an employee’s supervisor nor the person being accused of harassment should have any control over an investigation.”

    Given that Fox News has for years cultivated a toxic atmosphere of misogyny and sexism, and given reporting about the widespread culture of sexual harassment at the network that went beyond Ailes, Media Matters launched a petition calling on 21st Century Fox to publicly release the findings of the internal review. Though now those findings may be spurious, given the narrow scope of the investigation.

  • New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman: “Murdoch Blamed Ailes For Laying The Groundwork For Trump’s Candidacy”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman shed light on the tensions between former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch, the head of Fox's parent company 21st Century Fox, that resulted from Ailes “putting Fox so squarely behind the candidacy of Donald Trump.” The revelation was part of a report detailing Ailes’ ouster from Fox News after former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson filed asexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes.

    Under Ailes, Fox News facilitated the rise of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, giving him double the airtime of any other candidate during the GOP primary and nearly $30 million worth of free airtime from May to December 2015. Several Fox personalities became Trump cheerleaders and defenders, including Fox’s morning show Fox & Friends, which Trump had been calling into since 2011, the network’s star Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity, who has emerged as the chairman of Trump’s fan club. Despite a feud between Trump and the network after Megyn Kelly asked the candidate about his past statements about women at the first GOP debate, the relationship has remained strong, with Fox figures frequently helping to explain and defend Trump’s outrageous statements and proposals. Numerous media outlets blamed Fox News for creating “the Trump Monster,” as Trump predominantly relies on their coverage.

    In the September 2 article, Sherman explained that “the relationship between Murdoch and Ailes [became] strained” because “Murdoch blamed Ailes for laying the groundwork for Trump’s candidacy.” According to Sherman, “Murdoch didn’t like that Ailes was putting Fox so squarely behind the candidacy of Donald Trump” and that he “was not a fan of Trump’s and especially did not like his stance on immigration.” Sherman added, “Murdoch told Ailes he wanted Fox’s debate moderators… to hammer Trump,” resulting in Ailes becoming “caught between his friend Trump, his boss Murdoch, and his star [Megyn] Kelly”: 

    According to a person close to the Murdochs, Rupert’s first instinct was to protect Ailes, who had worked for him for two decades. The elder Murdoch can be extremely loyal to executives who run his companies, even when they cross the line. (The most famous example of this is Sun editor Rebekah Brooks, whom he kept in the fold after the U.K. phone-hacking scandal.) Also, Ailes has made the Murdochs a lot of ­money — Fox News generates more than $1 billion annually, which accounts for 20 percent of 21st Century Fox’s profits — and Rupert worried that perhaps only Ailes could run the network so successfully. “Rupert is in the clouds; he didn’t appreciate how toxic an environment it was that Ailes created,” a person close to the Murdochs said. “If the money hadn’t been so good, then maybe they would have asked questions.”

    Beyond the James and Lachlan factor, the relationship between Murdoch and Ailes was becoming strained: Murdoch didn’t like that Ailes was putting Fox so squarely behind the candidacy of Donald Trump. And he had begun to worry less about whether Fox could endure without its creator. (In recent years, Ailes had taken extended health leaves from Fox and the ratings held.) Now Ailes had made himself a true liability: More than two dozen Fox News women told the Paul, Weiss lawyers about their harassment in graphic terms. The most significant of the accusers was Megyn Kelly, who is in contract negotiations with Fox and is considered by the Murdochs to be the future of the network. So important to Fox is Kelly that Lachlan personally approved her reported $6 million book advance from Murdoch-­controlled publisher HarperCollins, according to two sources.

    [..]

    According to Fox sources, Murdoch blamed Ailes for laying the groundwork for Trump’s candidacy. Ailes had given Trump, his longtime friend, a weekly call-in segment on Fox & Friends to sound off on political issues. (Trump used Fox News to mainstream the birther conspiracy theory.) Ailes also had lunch with Trump days before he launched his presidential campaign and continued to feed him political advice throughout the primaries, according to sources close to Trump and Ailes. (And in the days after Carlson filed her lawsuit, Trump advised Ailes on navigating the crisis, even recommending a lawyer.)

    Murdoch was not a fan of Trump’s and especially did not like his stance on immigration. (The antipathy was mutual: “Murdoch’s been very bad to me,” Trump told me in March.) A few days before the first GOP debate on Fox in August 2015, Murdoch called Ailes at home. “This has gone on long enough,” Murdoch said, according to a person briefed on the conversation. Murdoch told Ailes he wanted Fox’s debate moderators — Kelly, Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace — to hammer Trump on a variety of issues. Ailes, understanding the GOP electorate better than most at that point, likely thought it was a bad idea. “Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee,” Ailes told a colleague around this time. But he didn’t fight Murdoch on the debate directive.

    On the night of August 6, in front of 24 million people, the Fox moderators peppered Trump with harder-hitting questions. But it was Kelly’s question regarding Trump’s history of crude comments about women that created a media sensation. He seemed personally wounded by her suggestion that this spoke to a temperament that might not be suited for the presidency. “I’ve been very nice to you, though I could probably maybe not be based on the way you have treated me,” he said pointedly.

    After the debate, Trump called Ailes and screamed about Kelly. “How could you do this?” he said, according to a person briefed on the call. Ailes was caught between his friend Trump, his boss Murdoch, and his star Kelly. “Roger lost control of Megyn and Trump,” a Fox anchor said.

  • Media Matters President Bradley Beychok Responds To Report That Fox Sought Our Reporter’s Phone Records

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News sought the phone records of Media Matters senior reporter Joe Strupp through “legally questionable means” in order to identify his anonymous network sources, according to a new report.

    New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported in his September 2 cover story on the fall of Fox News chairman Roger Ailes:

    Fox News also obtained the phone records of journalists, by legally questionable means. According to two sources with direct knowledge of the incident, Brandi, Fox’s general counsel, hired a private investigator in late 2010 to obtain the personal home- and cell-phone records of Joe Strupp, a reporter for the liberal watchdog group Media Matters. (Through a spokesperson, Brandi denied this.) In the fall of that year, Strupp had written several articles quoting anonymous Fox sources, and the network wanted to determine who was talking to him. “This was the culture. Getting phone records doesn’t make anybody blink,” one Fox executive told me.

    Media Matters president Bradley Beychok responded to the report:

    From what we witnessed with Rupert Murdoch and News Corp's prior phone hacking scandal, it's critical for an immediate investigation of Roger Ailes and any other current or former Fox News employees who may have been involved in this illegal practice.

    Roger Ailes and Fox News broke the law by hacking into the phone records of Media Matters employees. Anyone involved in the illegal hacking should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and we are considering all legal options.