Bloomberg View columnist and longtime Newsweek man Jonathan Alter has a new book coming out that includes details about jowly shithead Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News. Politico's media reporter Dylan Byers writes that excerpts from the book show that Alter "reveals a number of surprising facts about the Fox News chief that, taken together, make him out to appear extraordinarily paranoid." Yes, Roger Ailes is paranoid. But Alter didn't "reveal" anything new at all.
To wit: He "had a television monitor on his desk that showed video of the empty hall outside his office so that he would have warning if terrorists were coming to kill him," and once "demanded that security throw a 'Muslim-looking' man out of the building." (The man turned out to be a janitor.) He was "convinced that the whole News Corp. building was bugged" and thus worked out of a supply closet one day (according to Rupert Murdoch, his boss). And he once "tried to order bombproof glass for his office because he thought homosexuals outside News Corp. headquarters on Sixth Avenue might shoot at him."
Ailes also has Ailes has "round-the-clock security guards outside the locked gates of his Putnam County, New York estate," "insist[s] on entering News Corp.'s headquarters through a side door used by no other executives, not even Murdoch," and has "two bodyguards" who escort him into the building.
Sure, those things show that Roger Ailes is a paranoid crazy person. But Jonathan Alter didn't dig those up. They're straight from Tim Dickinson's 2011 profile of Ailes in Rolling Stone (duly highlighted here two years ago):
Murdoch installed Ailes in the corner office on Fox's second floor at 1211 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan. The location made Ailes queasy: It was close to the street, and he lived in fear that gay activists would try to attack him in retaliation over his hostility to gay rights. (In 1989, Ailes had broken up a protest of a Rudy Giuliani speech by gay activists, grabbing demonstrator by the throat and shoving him out the door.) Barricading himself behind a massive mahogany desk, Ailes insisted on having "bombproof glass" installed in the windows – even going so far as to personally inspect samples of high-tech plexiglass, as though he were picking out new carpet. Looking down on the street below, he expressed his fears to Cooper, the editor he had tasked with up-armoring his office. "They'll be down there protesting," Ailes said. "Those gays." [...]
Inside his blast-resistant office at Fox News headquarters, Ailes keeps a monitor on his desk that allows him to view any activity outside his closed door. Once, after observing a dark-skinned man in what Ailes perceived to be Muslim garb, he put Fox News on lockdown. "What the hell!" Ailes shouted. "This guy could be bombing me!" The suspected terrorist turned out to be a janitor.
In conclusion: Tim Dickinson, not Jonathan Alter, deserves credit for these wacky details that are being used to promote Jonathan Alter's new book; Dylan Byers is giving credit to the wrong person; and Roger Ailes is a fucking psycho bigot, regardless of who's writing about him.
Update: Jonathan Alter sent us the following, via his publisher's publicist:
The question is, who do you believe: Me or Roger Ailes and his henchmen, with their long record of lying?
I footnoted a great reporter, Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone, for some of the details about Ailes' legendary paranoia; several other details—like Ailes hiding in a supply closet because he feared the News Corp building was bugged, and Steve Jobs ordering all Apple ads off Fox News immediately (requiring a Sunday trip out to a transmission facility on Long Island), and details of Chris Christie saying at Ailes house that he didn't want to run for president in part because he liked going to Burger King—are entirely new, not to mention completely accurate.
The dispute with Fox and Geraldo Rivera will be resolved in my favor on Geraldo's show this morning when I disclose an email proving my side of the story.
All of my stories about Fox—only a small part of my largely well-reviewed (so far) book, come from current or former News Corp. sources, all of whom are more reliable than the anonymous spokesmen (quite a feat) now trashing me.
In 2000, I did have a nice conversation with Ailes about going to Fox but after he said I would have to be fonted as "Liberal" every time I appeared on his air, I decided I wasn't interested. In retrospect, I think I made a wise choice.