Blackmailing Fox News: Does Donald Trump Have Dirt On Roger Ailes?

Ever since Donald Trump entered the Republican contest for the party’s nomination for president he has been a constant presence on Fox News. Studies of the distribution of airtime have shown that Trump’s allocation has far exceeded every other candidate. The estimated value of this gift to Trump’s candidacy is in excess of thirty million dollars through December 2016. The question is why has Fox been so generous to this one particular candidate?

Donald Trump Roger Ailes

The conventional wisdom response to this question would be that Trump is simply good business for Fox News (and pretty much every other network). He is a proven ratings draw, in the same manner as a high-speed police chase or a Kardashian wardrobe malfunction. Audiences are enrapt because of the possibility that at any time Trump might burst a blood vessel in his neck or slap an immigrant orphan. In addition to the financial incentive, Fox shares most of the political agenda articulated by Trump, even the batshit crazy stuff like Mexican border walls, dismantling NATO, and his latest absurdity that he would eliminate the national debt in eight years.

Now there is a new explanation for why the self-described “most powerful name in news” got rolled and began doling out huge portions of their valuable airtime to what otherwise might be considered a joke candidate. Gabriel Sherman, the National Affairs Editor for New York Magazine and the author of a biography of Fox CEO Roger Ailes (The Loudest Voice in the Room), just published a fascinating and in-depth story about the composition of Trump’s campaign team. But it also includes an account of how Fox Executive VP Brian Lewis got fired under mysterious circumstances (which News Corpse covered here). In the course of telling this story, Sherman revealed this startling bombshell:

“It was also thanks to some information he had gathered that Trump was able to do something that no other Republican has done before: take on Fox News. An odd bit of coincidence had given him a card to play against Fox founder Roger Ailes. In 2014, I published a biography of Ailes, which upset the famously paranoid executive. Several months before it landed in stores, Ailes fired his longtime PR adviser Brian Lewis, accusing him of being a source. During Lewis’s severance negotiations, Lewis hired Judd Burstein, a powerhouse litigator, and claimed he had ‘bombs’ that would destroy Ailes and Fox News. That’s when Trump got involved.

“‘When Roger was having problems, he didn’t call 97 people, he called me,’ Trump said. Burstein, it turned out, had worked for Trump briefly in the ’90s, and Ailes asked Trump to mediate. Trump ran the negotiations out of his office at Trump Tower. ‘Roger had lawyers, very expensive lawyers, and they couldn’t do anything. I solved the problem.’ Fox paid Lewis millions to go away quietly, and Trump, I’m told, learned everything Lewis had planned to leak. If Ailes ever truly went to war against Trump, Trump would have the arsenal to launch a retaliatory strike.”

If this is true, then Fox News is essentially paying off Trump, with millions of dollars of airtime, to buy his silence. Under these circumstances Fox should not be covering Trump at all. If Trump is blackmailing Fox with threats of dumping damaging information there is no telling what he might have demanded. He isn’t limited to free airtime. He could also insist on positive coverage from influential hosts like Bill O’Reilly. He could force the network to hit his opponents with dishonest smears. He could dictate the network’s narrative on the progress of the campaign, the battle for delegates, and even the reactions to his numerous controversial remarks.

One thing is certain: This would explain how Trump has gotten away with his brutal treatment of Fox News. Ordinarily, any Republican candidate would be conscious of the sway that Fox holds over the party and the fate of anyone hoping to rise up in it. But Trump, with an apparently reckless lack of concern, has spent much of the last nine months mercilessly battering the network and its staff. He said of Megyn Kelly that she “is the worst” and has a “terrible show.” He called Karl Rove a “total fool” and “a biased dope.” He said that George Will is a “broken down political pundit” and “boring.” Chris Stirewalt was deemed “one of the dumbest political pundits on television.” Trump laughed off Charles Krauthammer as “a totally overrated clown,” “a loser,” and “a dummy.” And wrapping up the whole network for his disapproval, he tweeted that he was “having a really hard time watching Fox News.” Then he called on his followers to boycott the network. He even went after one of the major shareholders of the Fox’s parent corporation. I can’t say that I disagree with much of that, but then I’m not seeking the GOP nomination for anything.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

This is behavior that only seems plausible if Trump somehow knows that he will not suffer any consequences for it. At the very least, Fox News needs to respond to these allegations. And if their response is anything less than an unambiguous denial (for which they would have to supply evidence), then they need to come clean by disclosing the blackmail bait themselves. Then they need to conduct a public review of their past coverage of Trump to provide an accounting of their time allotment and any possibility of reporting bias. What’s more, the other candidates, including those who dropped out, have a right to some answers on how they were covered and if Trump’s tactics adversely affected their campaigns. Will Fox act responsibility on this? Well, why should they start now since they haven’t for the last twenty years.

The Fox News Primary: CNN On Kissing Rupert’s Ring And Other Body Parts

Sunday morning’s media analysis program on CNN, Reliable Sources, aired a segment (video below) that exposed the overtly partisan promotion of Republican candidates on Fox News. The obvious biases that infect the network’s programming have long been known to anyone paying attention, and the necessity to win the favor of the Fox Politburo is unquestioned.

Fox News Primary

Host Brian Stelter introduced the segment saying…

“Will those two guys, Fox News president Roger Ailes and his boss Rupert Murdoch, be picking your next president? It may sound ridiculous. It may sound like some liberal conspiracy theory. But there’s no disputing that they have real power in the GOP primary.”

That’s an understatement. Not only is Fox News a real power in the GOP primary proper, they often launch candidates from among their own employees. Just looking at the 2016 presidential cycle, Fox vets Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, John Bolton, Rick Santorum and John Kasich have all indicated an interested in running. And most of the other prospective candidates (i.e. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, and Paul Ryan) have staked out territory on Fox’s air on a regular basis. This led Stelter’s guest, Gabriel Sherman, author of the Ailes bio The Loudest Voice in the Room, to say…

“Without a question Roger Ailes controls the largest block of reliable Republican voters. They watch Fox News. They turn out in large numbers on primary day. And the candidates are already kissing the ring.”

For some evidence of the influence imposed by Fox, News Corpse reported this week that Mitt Romney’s departure from the race likely received more than a little push from Rupert Murdoch, whose anti-Romney stance was expressed publicly on more than one occasion. Stelter also noticed Murdoch’s remarks and coyly called it “purely coincidental.” Nevertheless, when the Fox News media analysis program, MediaBuzz with Howard Kurtz, reported on Romney bailing out, they laughably portrayed it as being the result of some ambiguous, negative media coverage, with an on-screen graphic reading “Did The Media Sink Romney?”

Yeah right. No mention of Romney’s negative coverage on Fox. Likewise, no mention of the disparaging comments by Murdoch, or Sean Hannity, or numerous other Tea Party mouthpieces on Fox. Not surprisingly, a conservative guest on Reliable Sources, the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis, dismissed any talk of influence on the part of Fox News. He would have to be seriously oblivious to reality in order believe that or to say…

“In terms of them having some sort of conspiracy to help boost one candidate or another – I mean look, if they had their way the Republican Party would be a pro-immigration reform party right now.”

Lewis must not watch very much Fox News if he hasn’t seen the Republican fluffing that goes on hour after hour. And to suggest that the network that continues to use the word “illegals” in reference to undocumented residents, even after most reputable news organizations have abandoned it (including the Fox Latino website), shows just how warped his view of the network is. Fox News is unashamedly hostile to immigration reform, as well as to immigrants, and so are most of the GOP candidates.

For the next year and a half Fox News will continue to work on behalf of the Republican Party. They are already in league with the Republican National Committee’s plans for primary debates. And during the general election Fox will openly promote the GOP candidate and lie shamelessly about the Democrat. It’s what they do. And the parade of GOP hopefuls kowtowing to Ailes and Murdoch know all too well how important it is to kiss their rings, and other body parts as required.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Foxettes On Parade: Is Fox News Breaking The Massachusetts Upskirting Law?

This week a Massachusetts judge dismissed the conviction of a man who was caught surreptitiously taking photographs underneath the skirt of a female undercover transit officer. The dismissal was based on the judge’s contorted interpretation of the law that found that the woman was not “partially nude” and therefore not a victim.

The Massachusetts legislature quickly drafted and passed an amendment to the law that clarified what constituted a violation. Gov. Deval Patrick signed the bill Friday, making this statement:

“The legislation makes the secret photographing, videotaping, or electronically surveiling of another person’s sexual or other intimate parts, whether under or around a person’s clothing or when a reasonable person would believe that the person’s intimate parts would not be visible to the public, a crime.”

The media was all over this disturbing story with a nearly lascivious glee. It’s the sort of sex crime controversy that starts tabloid editors salivating. So it is not surprising that Fox News, the tabloidiest channel of them all, covered the story excitedly in their broadcast. However, Fox may be exposing themselves to legal liability due to their penchant for featuring the physical assets of their female hosts and guests.

Fox News Upskirting

The evidence that is abundantly available of Fox News videotaping “under or around a person’s clothing” could be used against them in a court of law. If one of their employees were to press charges it wouldn’t be difficult to make a case given the thousands of hours of video proof. What’s more, executives at Fox have privately admitted that exploiting the sexuality of their nearly all-blonde roster of women presenters is a key part of their corporate culture. Gabriel Sherman wrote in his biography of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, “The Loudest Voice In The Room,” that Ailes has repeatedly given direction to his staff regarding the display of female body parts. For instance:

  • When the view of reporter Kiran Chetry was obstructed, Ailes called the control booth to demand that they “Move that damn laptop, I can’t see her legs!”
  • Ailes complained about host Catherine Crier’s attire saying that “I did not spend x-number of dollars on a glass desk for her to wear pant suits.”
  • The casting of The Five included one particular co-host because “I Need The Leg. That’s Andrea Tantaros.”

megyn-kelly-gq2
Furthermore, NPR’s media reporter David Folkenflik was told by knowledgeable sources about the Fox News “Leg Cam” that “goes directly for the legs.” And when host Megyn Kelly was interviewed by GQ (with an accompanying, and revealing, pictorial), she was asked about her own “glass table that shows off your legs.” She responded that “Well, It’s a visual business. People want to see the anchor.” That must be why Bill O’Reilly wears those low-cut blouses. Also, when Gretchen Carlson was tapped to replace Megyn Kelly in daytime, she revealed that “pants were not allowed on Fox & Friends,” and teased viewers with the prospect that on her new show “I might forget my clothes the first day.”

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

It would fun to see Fox News get hit with an indictment for breaking the Massachusetts Peeping Tom law. But don’t hold your breath. The Foxettes are firmly committed to the mission of their employer despite the fact that they are being exploited as sexual objects. They know that their livelihood depends on the 60+ male demographic that makes up the bulk of their audience. So if they have to suffer the indignity of catering to those perverts, they suck it up, cash their hefty paychecks, and try to remember to keep their legs tightly crossed.

Sarah Palin Rehired At Fox News To ‘Piss Off’ People And Other Tales Of Temper Tantrums

What does Fox News CEO Roger Ailes have in common with New Jersey governor Chris Christie? They are both bullies who enjoy taking out revenge on their political enemies in the most childish way possible. [They are also a couple of jerks whose chunky frames are only outweighed by their inflated egos, and who have a deep and perverse mutual affection for one another] By now everyone knows how Christie sought to punish Democrats in Fort Lee by shutting down lanes on the George Washington Bridge, creating severe traffic jams, costing millions in productivity loss, and potentially endangering people’s lives. And now we learn, from Ailes himself, that his emotional maturity is similarly stunted.

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter this week, Ailes was asked “Why bring back Sarah Palin just a few months after not renewing her contract?” His answer exposes him as a petulant little twerp who may be too senile to continue running a national news network.

Ailes: I’m not a defender of everything she says. I don’t hear everything she says. But I know she represents a certain group of people who rose up against their own party, which you rarely see. I probably hired her back, if you really want to get to the bottom of it, to give her a chance to say her piece and piss off the people that wanted her dead.

Indeed, Palin represents a certain group of Tea-sodden people, but they are fervently supportive of the far-right wing of their party (as is Ailes) and would never consider voting for anyone but a Republican. The fact that Ailes can’t cite as reasons for Palin’s rehire her superior intellect or insightful analysis says much about his disdain for both Palin and his audience. His management philosophy at Fox appears to include a mandate to inflict revenge on liberals who don’t even watch the network. In reality, the people who dislike Palin (this author included) couldn’t be happier that she is back on Fox News making an ass of herself and the network.

This isn’t the first time that Ailes has made a personnel decision that is rooted in childish vengeance. Last year, in a fawning biography that Ailes himself had solicited, he told the author why he had kept Glenn Beck on the air long after he had decided that Beck was a divisive figure who was costing the network advertising revenue. The reason Ailes gave for putting off Beck’s departure was that he “didn’t want to give MoveOn and Media Matters the satisfaction.” So Ailes permitted Beck to continue broadcasting his race-baiting, Nazi-inflected, conspiracy theories for several more months because he would rather poison the airwaves (and the minds of his viewers) with lies and hatred than to let his ideological adversaries think they had scored a victory.

Another example of the juvenile (and paranoid) brand of Ailes’ management style was revealed in an article this week in the Daily Beast. David Freedlander wrote in “Fox’s War Against Ailes Biographer” about the lengths to which Ailes will go to attack journalists who dare to write anything about the cable news overlord:

“Fox News has been waiting for [Gabriel] Sherman’s book [The Loudest Voice In The Room] to come out. According to interviews with a half-dozen former employees of what is known as the Fox News ‘Brain Room,’ the brain trust at the network has been following Sherman’s work for years. Although the so-called ‘Brain Room,’ located in the basement of Fox News studios, was supposed to be dedicated to research for the networks programming, two former news librarians describe an environment where they were frequently called to do opposition research about media reporters who were writing about Fox News or Ailes. Former employees described being tasked to investigate reporters from a variety of beats, including hunting down personal information such as voter registration that was used to determine how ‘Fox-friendly’ the reporter was.”

The use of a newsroom’s assets and personnel to carry out private vendettas is plainly unethical, as noted by NPR’s media reporter David Folkenflik. Folkenflik was himself a victim of Fox’s wrath and gave the Daily Beast his assessment of the toxic environment at Fox News:

“They are on a wartime footing. They approach this stuff in a very different way, in the way that a PR shop in a political campaign would. It is hard to imagine any other serious news outlet — The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN — handling negative news stories in this way.”

And that’s pretty much the gist of it. Fox is perpetually at war. It is a theme that permeates their broadcasts whether it’s about a Class War or a War on Christmas, there is a built in hostility at Fox that infects its personnel on and off the air. It is why they regard anyone who disagrees with their editorial viewpoint as a hostile adversary. And that precise language was used in an ad that Fox placed in Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post:

Fox News Ad

[Update 1/11/2014] In response to Ailes claim that he rehired Palin to piss people off, Palin took to her Facebook page to say “Funny. I accepted for the same reason!” Proving that both Ailes and Palin are too stupid to grasp that her critics aren’t the least bit pissed off by her coming back to Fox and spewing her laughably ignorant drivel.

No Kidding, Snerdley: It’s Safe To Say That Fox News Is ‘In The Christie Camp’

Everyone has something to say about the revelation that Chris Christie’s office was intimately involved in the closing of the George Washington Bridge despite their prior denials. This includes Rush Limbaugh who made what might be the understatement of the decade:

“The media, with the exception of Fox, which is probably – it is safe to say – in the Christie camp, the media is salivating now at the prospect that Christie’s career is over.”

Ailes/Christie

Never mind Limbaugh’s ridiculous notion that the media that created Christie and made him a household name is suddenly anxious for him to fade into oblivion. If there is one thing we know about the media it’s that they crave the sort of ratings-rich melodrama that would almost certainly envelope a Christie vs. Clinton campaign in 2016. So no knowledgeable person would accuse the media of yearning for an election season without Christie [Note: No knowledgeable person – so that rules Limbaugh out].

However, Limbaugh’s observation that Fox News is “in the Christie camp” is as startling as the discovery of Mexican Viagra in Limbaugh’s medicine cabinet. And it isn’t just because Fox News is the cable subsidiary of the Republican Party (or is the GOP a subsidiary of Fox?), there is also the fact that Fox News CEO Roger Ailes had actively solicited Christie to run for president in 2012. What’s more, the relationship between the two went even deeper than that as Gabriel Sherman reported two years ago:

“Chris Christie had dinner with Fox News chief Roger Ailes last summer, and the two had a phone conversation a few months ago in which Ailes encouraged Christie to run for president. When Gawker requested access to any official records of such interactions under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act, they were blocked by a claim of executive privilege, meaning the New Jersey government considers Ailes an adviser to Christie.”

Sherman’s unauthorized biography of Ailes, “The Loudest Voice In The Room,” will be released next week and may contain more details of this relationship. In the meantime, there is ample evidence that Fox News is already running interference on behalf of Ailes’ crush. As Media Matters noted, Fox spent less than fifteen minutes reporting the breaking news about Bridge-gate, far less than other news outlets. When Fox did commit to cover the story they framed it as a demonstration of Christie’s “lesson in leadership.”

This obvious bias in favor of Christie should not surprise anyone. When the CEO of a cable news network has personally pursued you to become a candidate for president, it is indeed “safe” to assume that they are in your camp. Expect the love affair between Fox and Christie to continue until it becomes untenable to prop up a blatantly corrupt political bully. But don’t worry, Fox will survive the break-up and rebound quickly to former crushes like Rand Paul or Ted Cruz.

Unbelievable: How Fox News CEO Roger Ailes Distorted A Middle School Election

By now anyone who is paying attention knows that Fox News is a disreputable purveyor of heavily biased propaganda on behalf of the Republican Party and conservative politics. The network openly favors GOP/Tea Party pundits and politicians and has even been caught reporting Republican press releases verbatim as if they were independently sourced news stories.

Roger Ailes

Now an excerpt from an upcoming biography of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes provides an outstanding illustration of the mindset that runs Fox News. The book, “The Loudest Voice In The Room” by Gabriel Sherman, was excerpted in New York Magazine and includes a passage about how Ailes intervened with the reporting in a local newspaper he owns in Putnam County, New York, where he lives in a mountaintop estate. The entire excerpt offers a revealing look into the thought processes of Ailes as he seeks to dominate any environment in which he resides – even a small upstate New York hamlet and its local news, schools, and government.

Another drama erupted after a reporter named Michael Turton was assigned to cover Haldane Middle School’s mock presidential election. After the event, Turton filed a report headlined “Mock Election Generated Excitement at Haldane; Obama Defeats McCain by 2–1 Margin.” He went on, “The 2008 U.S. presidential election is now history. And when the votes were tallied, Barack Obama had defeated John McCain by more than a two to one margin. The final vote count was 128 to 53.” Reading the published version a few days later, Turton was shocked. The headline had been changed: “Mock Presidential Election Held at Haldane; Middle School Students Vote to Learn Civic Responsibility.” So had the opening paragraph: “Haldane students in grades 6 through 8 were entitled to vote for president and they did so with great enthusiasm.” Obama’s margin of victory was struck from the article. His win was buried in the last paragraph.

Turton was upset, and wrote a questioning e-mail to [editor Maureen] Hunt, but never heard back. Instead, he received a series of accusatory e-mails from the Aileses. Turton had disregarded “specific instructions” for the piece, Beth wrote. “Do you anticipate this becoming an ongoing problem for you?” A short while later, Roger weighed in. Maureen Hunt’s instructions to focus on the school’s process for teaching about elections had been “very clear,” he wrote, and Turton’s “desire to change the story into a big Obama win” should have taken a backseat. Ailes described himself as “disappointed” by Turton’s failure “to follow the agreed upon direction.”

The unfolding of events in this deliberate act of interference with a journalist’s role in reporting the news mirrors perfectly the sort of heavy-handed control that Ailes wields over Fox News. It is easy to see the parallels between this microcosm of journalism and the obvious distortions of reality that occur on Fox News every day.

This excerpt is a tantalizing morsel of what the book promises to deliver when it is released later this month. It is written in a compelling way, with credible sources, profound revelations, and dramatic flair. Consequently, we can expect Fox News to mount a fierce smear campaign against the book and its author as its release nears and in the weeks that follow. Indeed, it has already begun.

Cloak And Dagger: Why Did Fox News Fire Roger Ailes’ Right-Hand Man?

Last month Brian Lewis was quietly escorted from the Fox News offices by security personnel. It is only now becoming known that this long-time employee was terminated under suspicious circumstances. The statement from Fox News said that Lewis, Fox’s Executive VP of Communications, was…

“…terminated for cause, specifically for issues relating to financial irregularities, as well as for multiple, material and significant breaches of his employment contract.”

No further statement from Fox was issued, and insiders are being characteristically silent as to the nature of the “financial irregularities.” However, there are good reasons to suspect that there is more to this than meets the eye.

Roger AilesLewis has long been identified as one of the closest associates of Fox CEO Roger Ailes. He was brought along to Fox with Ailes from their previous positions at CNBC. Having been with Fox since its inception, Lewis rose to a position of trust wherein his responsibilities covered everything from Fox News, to Fox Business, to the Fox television stations, and more. In addition, he was listed as a senior adviser to Ailes. His authority was broad and comprehensive. For Ailes to jettison him so abruptly he must have done something unforgivably terrible.

Adding to the curious nature of Lewis’ departure is the treatment he has received from official Fox spokespersons and even their on-air personnel. Lewis is now being portrayed as a nearly insignificant cog in the Fox family. They dispute the descriptions of him as an Ailes confidant. Apparently, at Fox you can be an executive VP from the network’s launch and still not be very important. Many Foxies piled on in the belittling of Lewis, including Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Karl Rove, and more.

This is the sort of coordinated smear campaign that Fox generally embarks upon when they regard themselves as under attack. Ironically, it was Lewis who spearheaded these campaigns prior to his falling out.

In one example, Fox went after Media Matters in advance of their publication of the book “The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine” They devoted hours of airtime to slandering Media Matters and its founder, David Brock, whom they called a mentally unstable drug abuser. Fox also aired innumerable segments challenging Media Matters’ tax exempt status in an effort to financially harm the organization. Funny, isn’t it, that Fox tried to get the IRS to punish what they falsely claimed was a political entity, and now they are condemning the IRS for allegedly doing just that to Tea party groups.

Another example is the campaign Fox ran against author Gabriel Sherman, who is writing a book about Ailes. This effort began with Ailes soliciting his own biography that was written by his hand-picked, sycophantic fluffer, Zev Chafets, in an attempt to beat Sherman to market. Then the war was escalated with personal attacks on Sherman, calling him a “phony journalist,” a “stalker,” a “harasser,” and “a [George] Soros puppet.” It is this Sherman angle that raises questions about the termination of Lewis.

Speculation is already surfacing that Ailes suspected Lewis of providing information to Sherman for his book. Ailes, of course, is notoriously paranoid and believes that Al Qaeda and the gays are out to get him too. However, if Lewis is a source for Sherman’s book he would surely have an abundance of juicy tidbits to unveil. Sherman himself wrote of Lewis’ departure from Fox and his account is both informative and provocative.

The likelihood that Lewis was engaged in something other than financial improprieties is pretty high. It is hard to believe that an Ailes loyalist for nearly two decades would suddenly become a common embezzler. Much more plausible is the theory that Lewis was persuaded to consort with an author with the intention of putting honest accounts into the record. That alone would mark Lewis as a traitor in the eyes of Ailes, and justify his expulsion from the Fox family.

Moreover, the familiar pattern that Fox follows by staging all-out war against anyone who dares to challenge their omnipotence is evident in the way they are hammering Lewis. If this were actually a routine dismissal of an errant employee there would be no need for the merciless bashing that Lewis is enduring. However, if Lewis was consorting with the enemy, this is precisely how Fox would respond.

This is a textbook example of a Fox News preemptive attack of the sort they launched on Media Matters and, previously, Sherman. It is something they believe would serve them later on should they need to discredit Lewis if his contributions show up in Sherman’s book. Most of all, it is not how a company ordinarily handles a sensitive personnel matter. But it is characteristic of the scorched-earth strategy that Fox employs when cornered.

[Update] See Brian Lewis’ response here.

A Panicky Roger Ailes Unleashes The Fox News Hounds

Roger AilesFox News CEO Roger Ailes is revealing the creeping dread he harbors at the prospect of being exposed in a new biography that will be released in a few weeks. As a result of his manic paranoia he has assembled his Flunky Brigade to mount a large-scale offensive meant to preemptively discredit the forthcoming book and its author, Gabriel Sherman.

Dylan Byers at Politico wrote about this blitzkrieg earlier this month in an article that detailed how Sherman has already been targeted by Ailes’ defenders on the Fox News payroll. They have assailed him as a “phony journalist,” a “stalker,” a “harasser,” and when all else fails, as “a [George] Soros puppet.” This is the same battle plan that Ailes executed when he was faced with the release of a damning portrait of Fox News by Media Matters founder David Brock. Ailes dispatched his defenders to slanderously malign Brock as a mentally unstable, drug abusing, megalomaniac. It’s the Ailes way.

Now another Ailes puppet, Pat Caddell, has been recruited into the fray with an utterly daft hit piece in the form of an editorial on FoxNews.com. Caddell begins his protracted rant as a self-glorifying account of how he was the genius behind a thirty year old, moth-eaten speech by Jimmy Carter. But that was just the set up on a labyrinthine journey to disparage Sherman’s pending biography of Ailes, about which Caddell said with more than hint of hyperbole, “the mere publication of his book will go beyond controversy. Its publication would, in and of itself, be a scandal.” However, nothing in Caddell’s feverish disgorging ever explained what would be so scandalous about it. The entire article reads like a reject from the notoriously disreputable Fox Nation, but even that Fox annex wouldn’t re-post this tripe.

Try to follow along as Caddell weaves a nearly incoherent tale of intrigue. The pretext for his ire was an alleged claim of credit for the Carter speech by Gordon Stewart, who just happened to be one of Carter’s speechwriters. Caddel insists, however, that Stewart had little to do with the speech, but Caddell kept that opinion to himself for several years. His impetus for speaking out years later was a rather childish response to an unrelated article by Stewart wherein he negatively reviewed a friendly biography of Ailes that was written by Ailes’ personally selected lackey Zev Chafets for the purpose of beating Sherman’s book to market. Caddell wrote “When I saw that Stewart had trashed author Chafets for picayune inaccuracies in his Ailes book, I said to myself, ‘Enough is enough. If Stewart is going to dump on Chafets for tiny mistakes, then I should let everyone know that Stewart has been telling a whopper for years.'”

In other words. because Caddell didn’t like Stewart’s review of the sycophantic bio that Ailes himself had solicited, Caddell would dredge up an old, unrelated dispute to lash out at Stewart. At this point you may wonder what any of this has to do with Gabriel Sherman. Well, Caddell drags him into this with this introduction: “There’s a person named Gabriel Sherman, a writer for New York magazine and a fellow at the New America Foundation–a left-of-center think-tank to which George Soros and others in the Soros family have contributed.” The Soros affiliation was thrown in because Caddell knows that the Fox audience has a knee jerk gag response to the name. What Caddell fails to note is that his Fox colleague, conservative pundit Jim Pinkerton, was also a New America Foundation fellow.

Are you still following? Caddell’s problem with Sherman is that while conducting research on Caddell’s article attacking Stewart, Sherman asked Caddell to document his assertion that Stewart had improperly claimed credit for the Carter speech. Caddell had written that “Four years ago, in both print and in interviews, Stewart claimed to be the author of the “crisis of confidence” speech.” Sherman then had the audacity to ask Caddell to direct him to the articles and/or interviews that Caddell had referenced. This resulted in Caddell having a conniption fit and declaring that Sherman “can’t or won’t find something that is plainly a part of the public record, and then he writes me a faux-friendly e-mail asking me to help him.”

That’s a bit of an over-reaction, it would seem. The first thing an experienced journalist would do to verify a quote would be to ask the person quoted for his sources. Why spend untold hours digging up years-old documents if the person who cited them could simply send you a link? But Caddell thinks that was an outrageous request and indicative of poor research skills. On the basis of that, Caddell extrapolates that Sherman is incompetent and his book on Ailes, which Caddell has never seen, will be a hack job.

That’s a fairly thin basis for criticism. But if you think that’s bad, have look at the tantrum Caddell throws in his final paragraph:

“Frankly, Mr. Sherman, you are an embarrassment to the journalistic trade, and if your book is in the same vein, it will be an embarrassment to your publisher and a disservice to the reading public. Please take my advice: Grow up, get a life, and most of all, leave me alone. Got that?”

Seriously? Was Caddell’s emotional maturity stunted at the junior high level? That’s the most pathetically impotent threat I’ve ever seen in print. And the entire tirade was just an excuse to bash a book that he knows nothing about because the author asked him a simple and reasonable question. The lengths to which Caddell has gone, at the behest of his Fox master Roger Ailes, demonstrates just how worried they are about the revelations that Sherman’s book may contain. And it reveals them to be so desperate that they would resort to these ineffectual bullying tactics.

The question is, are they also so delusional that they believe that any of this will have anything other than a positive effect on Sherman and the reception for his book? If anything, it will increase anticipation all the more, which would be ironic because the Chafets book on Ailes was a thundering dud, that sold less than 3,000 copies its first week. That prompted Chafets to tell The New Republic that “Most people don’t care about Roger Ailes.” That’s a curious remark for an author to make about the subject of his latest book.

In the end, Ailes, Caddell, and Chafets may be adding to their own gnawing sense of envy by giving Sherman’s book a big PR boost that could help sales. Perhaps Sherman should send them a thank you note. Well, except for Caddell who wants to be left alone.

Roger Ailes Kept Glenn Beck On The Air To Irritate MoveOn And Media Matters

Roger AilesThe new biography of Roger Ailes by his hand-picked fluffer, Zev Chafets, is getting some exposure in the press via reviews and excerpts. News Corpse recently reported that Ailes agreed to cooperate with Chafets in order to make a preemptive strike against a more critical look at his career by journalist Gabriel Sherman, whose book will be published in May. The New York Times published a scathing review that ripped Chafets for producing a book that…

“…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 […] 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.”

Now the New York Observer has posted another excerpt that reveals the lengths to which Ailes will go to annoy his enemies. Chafets writes that Ailes had already decided “he would have to get rid of Glenn Beck,” but he didn’t take any actions to do so for many months. This stalling occurred even though he was aware that “An advertising boycott organized by ColorOfChange.org hurt revenues, and Beck’s ratings declined.” This reference to the Color Of Change action is the first time that Ailes has admitted that Fox lost money due to the boycott. He previously made emphatic denials that there had been any impact on revenue. The reason Ailes gave for putting off Beck’s departure, according to Chafets, was that he “didn’t want to give MoveOn and Media Matters the satisfaction.”

So there you have it. The CEO of a news network had concluded that Beck’s rhetoric was divisive and “over the top,” but he permitted him to continue broadcasting his race-baiting, Nazi-inflected, conspiracy theories for several more months because he was afraid to give his critics something they might celebrate. Ailes would rather poison the airwaves (and the minds of his viewers) with lies and hatred than to let his ideological adversaries think they had scored a victory. That’s the true nature of Fox News and its philosophy of journalism.

It goes without saying that Ailes’ ego-driven decision-making was flawed from the start. Delaying the cancellation of Beck had zero effect on how his critics would respond. Removing Beck from the air was a victory whether it occurred in January or July. The only person whose “satisfaction” was affected was Ailes himself. Chafets never recognizes this fact and the excerpt irrationally concludes with him asserting that “Ailes was right again.”

Chafets further sucks up by saying that, as a result of his maneuvering, “Ailes could plausibly say that he had moved Fox safely away from the fringe.” Where he gets that notion from is a mystery. Particularly in light of Fox’s acquisitions since the election that include Mark Levin, Herman Cain, Scott Brown, and Erick Erickson (who once called a Supreme Court Justice a “goat-fucking child molester”). They join fringe all-stars Sean Hannity, Eric Bolling, and Steve Doocy, among others. This is not what most people would describe as plausibly moving away from the fringe, but it is the Fox way.

Roger Ailes Uses Fox News Personnel As His Personal Attack Dogs

Dylan Byers of Politico posted an article yesterday that dug into the literary battle between two competing biographies of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. One of the bios is by an independent reporter, Gabriel Sherman, who has demonstrated his ability to break stories from within the Fox bubble. The other is by a hack, Zev Chafets, who previously penned a gushing homage to Rush Limbaugh and who has the blessing of Ailes – including access to the subject, his family, friends, and colleagues.

Roger Ailes

Byers noted that Sherman has already been targeted by Ailes’ defenders on the Fox News payroll. He has been assailed as a “phony journalist,” a “stalker,” a “harasser,” and when all else fails, as “a [George] Soros puppet.” [Sherman is presently a fellow of the New America Foundation to which Soros has donated a miniscule sum. Conservative and Fox News pundit Jim Pinkerton also has a fellowship]. Despite this full-court bad press assault, Byers is not convinced that there is any coordinated effort to malign Sherman. He writes…

“To date, no evidence has emerged that Ailes ordered his employees to stir up the attacks on Sherman — which have gone beyond the usual confines of professional critiques and into the realm of personal insult and innuendo.”

If Byers is looking for evidence, he might examine the track record at Fox when they decide that they are under fire from an ideological enemy. When David Brock of Media Matters was preparing the release of his book “The Fox Effect,” the Ailes team fired up a preemptive blitzkrieg of slander and character assassination. They labeled Brock everything from mentally unstable to a drug user to a self-hating megalomaniac. They also mounted a campaign to get Fox viewers to file complaints with the IRS to get Media Matters’ tax exemption as a charitable organization revoked. All of this because Brock had a book that was about to come out.

This is all consistent with the Ailes business plan. He sits atop an enterprise that engages in scorched earth assaults against perceived enemies, driven by his own well-known paranoia. So it is not particularly surprising that, after hearing about an unauthorized (and perhaps unfriendly) biography in the works, he would solicit his own biographer whom he could be certain would canonize him and then attempt to discredit the opposing author before any truth inadvertently slipped out.

Sherman recently certified his reporting skills, and the reliability of his sources within Fox, by exposing a couple of incidents that revealed some of the inner workings of the network. In one case he found that shortly after the massacre in Newtown, CT, Fox producers had been given instructions “not to talk about gun-control policy on air.” In the other case, just after the election results that Fox had so badly botched, Sherman discovered that Ailes had sent out orders “mandating that producers must get permission before booking [Karl] Rove or [Dick] Morris,” two of the more notoriously flawed Fox analysts.

Sherman’s book is expected to be released in a few months. If his prior reporting is any indication, it should be an interesting read. The same cannot be said for the book by Chafets, unless you happen to be partial to sycophantic hero-worship based on fantastical diversions from reality. But because of the timing, neither book is likely to record how Ailes unethically deploys his “news” staff to smack down independent reporting that he is afraid might be too honest and probing – especially when it is about himself. It is easy to predict that, as the publish date for Sherman’s book approaches, Sherman will become increasingly under attack by the Ailes machine. It may be a withering onslaught of defamation, but it will also be an affirmation that he is doing his job.

[Update] An excerpt of the Ailes-approved Chafets book was published in Vanity Fair. Aside from the expected adulatory tone, Chafets revealed how juvenile Ailes can be when criticizing those he dislikes. He called Newt Gingrich “a prick.” He said VP Joe Biden is “dumb as an ashtray.” He mocked CNN’s Soledad O’Brien as the anchor “named after a prison” (actually, she was named after the Virgin Mary). He went after his own son-in-law saying that he “needed to see a psychiatrist.” And he sunk to racist dog-whistling by calling President Obama “lazy.” Based on these excerpts, this is one book that should hit the bargain bins pretty fast.