About That Gabriel Sherman Book…
The New York Times’ David Carr writes about Sherman’s Ailes book and all the hoopla that’s ensued…almost from the day the book was announced…
What it really tells you is everything you need to know about the reality distortion field around Fox News. It refused to engage with Mr. Sherman, and then attacked him for not engaging. It rebuffed his repeated requests to interview Mr. Ailes, but still believes it would have been appropriate for him to go over all the accusations in the book, arguing that not doing so is irresponsible and not in keeping with standard journalistic practice.
In my experience, that would have been the beginning of a grinding war of attrition, with Fox executives pushing back on everything while yielding nothing.
On Sunday, a Fox spokeswoman described Mr. Sherman’s appearance on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” as “another example of the agenda-driven cottage industry built on attacking Fox News. The author’s failure to secure an interview with the principal subject does not absolve his fact-checking obligations with the network.”
There are a plenty of unnamed sources in the book attributing specific dialogue to Mr. Ailes, but picking on Mr. Sherman over facts will not change the narrative. He spent three years on the book, interviewed over 600 people, had two fact-checkers spend 2,000 hours going over his work and rendered his sourcing and reporting mostly transparent.
This isn’t a fight about facts, it is about control. According to the book, Mr. Ailes ended a corporate relationship with Google because it would not alter search engine results that put him in a negative light. In 2010, I worked on a piece about how when Mr. Ailes moved to Putnam County, he bought the local newspaper to exercise might in local affairs, a fight that is detailed in Mr. Sherman’s book. And Mr. Ailes tried to maintain dominion over his own legacy, and pre-empt Mr. Sherman’s book, by commissioning a friendly and feckless authorized biography — “Roger Ailes: Off Camera” — that was published last year.