Fat dick Roger Ailes is the subject of a deeply, deeply terrible new biography by magazine writer Zev Chafets. You can gauge its value by the fact that Chafets saw fit to acknowledge his "debt" to Fox News chief flack Brian Lewis, who, when he's not busy feeding Chafets bullshit about Roger Ailes, has been orchestrating a smear campaign against people who are writing less adoring biographies of Fox's Dear Leader. It took me about 30 minutes of reading before I came across the book's first documentable lie from Ailes: His claim that he was never paid to be Richard Nixon's message guru and tie-picker.
In Chafets' exceedingly sparse and cursory recounting of Ailes' time managing Nixon's television persona, he claims that Ailes' role didn't constitute a "real job at the White House":
From time to time he was summoned by the White House to undertake special assignments...but he did these things pro bono. "I never even took a per diem, let alone payment," Ailes told me. "I didn't want to tell my kid someday that I had been on the government payroll."
That is a lie. Roger Ailes was paid a $150 per diem by the White House for his extensive services as Nixon's image consultant. (That's roughly $900 per day in 2013 dollars.) Below is a March 1970 memo from Nixon chief of staff H.R. Haldeman to his assistant Larry Higby discussing the prospect of giving Ailes a raise, over and above his White House pay, in the form of "additional outside compensation" (presumably from either other GOP institutions or one of Nixon's slush funds). It makes clear that, as of March 1970, the White House "presently pay[s] him $100/day plus expenses." A handwritten note corrects that figure to $150.
Eight months later, in a memo Ailes wrote to Haldeman, Ailes complained that he wasn't getting paid enough by the White House, and asked for help getting a "longer range consultancy" with the Republican National Committee, because "per diem work" didn't allow for the "flexibility" he needed.
A little over a year after that, a memo to Ailes from Nixon assistant Jon M. Huntsman (father of the vanity GOP presidential candidate), announced that an office was being set aside, "adjacent to the President's office," for Ailes to use during his White House visits. Secretarial assistance was also to be provided.
To recap: According to contemporaneous documents from Ailes' days in the Nixon White House, he was paid a per diem rate of roughly $900 in 2013 dollars, he asked the White House for more money, and he had an office there. According to Roger Ailes, he "never even took a per diem" because he "didn't want to tell [his] kid someday that [he] had been on the government payroll."
Does it matter that Ailes was paid by the Nixon White House? No. But it's beyond bizarre that he would elect, for no good reason, to lie about it. His self-delusional role as some sort of outsider to power is so gargantuan that he can't even abide the utterly routine matter of having been paid by the government for his services.
How did I find these memos? I looked on the internet! They are right here, published by Gawker two years ago. I obtained them from the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, which sent me more than 300 pages of material concerning Ailes' work for Nixon. I wrote about it at the time. If you Google "Richard Nixon Roger Ailes," that story is the fourth search result. A Washington Post story referring to the documents is the third search result. Any reporter with even a passing curiosity about how Ailes conducted himself while working for the Nixon White House would presumably have come across them. Chafets, it would seem, did not.
[Images via Getty and AP]