Today Random House revealed a dedicated website for journalist Gabriel Sherman’s new book about Fox News president Roger Ailes, The Loudest Voice in the Room. In an unusual move, according to Capital New York, Random House will use the site to rebut attacks from Fox News and its milieu of defenders, like Breitbart.com and National Review, about the book’s veracity. Indeed, Roger Ailes is beginning to feel the heat already.
On December 27, Fox News aired a curious hour-long documentary called “Fox News: Our Story,” whose promotional materials promised “Fox News Channel stars [sharing their] secrets to the success of the channel as they reported the news as it happened, with dynamic clips and memorable behind-the-scenes stories.” Although “Our Story” aired on a Friday night, over a holiday weekend, Fox talent heavily promoted it on Twitter and Facebook.
Still, it wasn’t clear why the documentary was produced, or why it was aired now. The channel celebrated its 17th anniversary in October. But its angle and content gave its purpose away almost immediately: To slake fans of Fox in order to prepare them for Sherman’s book. At one point, anchor Megyn Kelly told host Bill Hemmer: “When certain people who shall go nameless have suggested there’s not journalists at Fox News I wanna look them and go really?”
The campaign against The Loudest Voice in the Room has breached higher-brow outlets as well. In yesterday’s New York Times Book Review, on page 7, you’ll find an ad for Zev Chafets’ gullible Ailes biography, Roger Ailes: Off Camera, which was published more than nine months ago.
The ad doesn’t say who paid for it. But the copy, like “Fox News: Our Story,” is similarly transparent:
- “Based on the only exclusive interview with Ailes”
- “Chafets’ book captures the real ROGER AILES and the true inside story of FOX News”
- “An eye-opening biography by Zev Chafets, the only reporter to have interviewed Ailes”
Of course, the reason Ailes supplied Chafets with an “exclusive” interview—the reason Ailes believes Chafets “captures the real Roger Ailes”—is because Ailes could count on Chafets, the go-to biographer for conservative figures, to author a sympathetic account. In fact it was Sherman’s book that pushed Ailes to deal with a biographer in the first place; Ailes wanted to crowd out any of Sherman’s revelations with Chafet’s glowing portrayal. His firing of former aide Brian Lewis in July, and the two men’s $8 million settlement in November, further demonstrate Ailes’s deep anxiety about being honestly reported on.
Fox News and Chafet’s publisher, Penguin-Sentinel, did not respond to requests for comment.
Update: Penguin-Sentinel’s marketing director, Will Weisser, emails Gawker:
The paperback edition of ROGER AILES: OFF CAMERA was just published by Sentinel on December 31. So it’s not really nine months after pub date, it’s just in time for the paperback.
The ad itself, however, does not indicate that a paperback edition had gone on sale the week prior. Furthermore, Weisser declined to say whether Penguin-Sentinel paid for the ad.
Update, January 12, 2014: The Times told Michael Calderone of The Huffington Post that the company owned by a personal Ailes flack bought the ad:
A Times spokesperson told HuffPost that The Dilenschneider Group, a strategic communications firm, purchased the Book Review ads for just over $15,000. ... Founder Robert Dilenschneider ... did not respond to HuffPost's questions about why his firm purchased the ads as the less-flattering Ailes biography was hitting the shelves on Jan. 14. Sherman's book, however, sheds some light on a possible motive: Dilenschneider, he wrote, is Ailes' "personal PR consultant."
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[Image credit: The Loudest Voice in the Room]