The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News--and Divided a Country
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR
A deeply reported journey inside the secretive world of Fox News and the life of its combative, visionary founder.
When Rupert Murdoch enlisted Roger Ailes to launch a cable news network in 1996, American politics and media changed forever. Now, with a remarkable level of detail and insight, New York magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman brings Ailes’s unique genius to life, along with the outsize personalities—Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly, Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, and others—who have helped Fox News play a defining role in the great social and political controversies of the past two decades. From the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal to the Bush-Gore recount, from the war in Iraq to the Tea Party attack on the Obama presidency, Roger Ailes has developed an unrivaled power to sway the national agenda. Even more, he has become the indispensable figure in conservative America and the man any Republican politician with presidential aspirations must court.
How did this man, whose life story has until now been shrouded in myth, become the master strategist of our political landscape? In revelatory detail, Sherman chronicles the rise of Ailes, a sickly kid from an Ohio factory town who, through sheer willpower, the flair of a showman, fierce corporate politicking, and a profound understanding of the priorities of middle America, built the most influential television news empire of our time.
Drawing on hundreds of interviews with Fox News insiders past and present, Sherman documents Ailes’s tactical acuity as he battles the press, business rivals, and countless real and perceived enemies inside and outside Fox. Sherman takes us inside the morning meetings in which Ailes and other high-level executives strategize Fox’s presentation of the news to advance Ailes’s political agenda; provides behind-the-scenes details of Ailes’s crucial role as finder and shaper of talent, including his sometimes rocky relationships with Fox News stars such as O’Reilly and Hannity; and probes Ailes’s fraught partnership with his equally brash and mercurial boss, Rupert Murdoch.
Roger Ailes’s life is a story worthy of Citizen Kane. The Loudest Voice in the Room is an extraordinary feat of reportage with a compelling human drama at its heart.
Praise for The Loudest Voice in the Room
“[An] actually fair and balanced, carefully documented biography.”—Jacob Weisberg, The New York Times Book Review
“The book excels at compiling data establishing Ailes’s control freakishness and authoritarian nature. . . . A veteran of the New York media-reporting scene, Sherman nails the Fox News palace intrigue and brings to light interactions that Ailes clearly never wanted to go public.”—Erik Wemple, The Washington Post
“[An] enormously entertaining new biography.”—The New Republic
“A thoroughly reported look behind that curtain . . . Part of the reason [Ailes] and his allies have campaigned against the book is not because it is false, but because it tells a true story.”—David Carr, The New York Times
“Sherman is at his best writing with sweep about the history of cable news and placing Ailes in context.”—Los Angeles Times
better treatment if he engaged, rather than opposed, Fox. At that, the meeting ended. Afterward, Murdoch asked Ailes his impression of Obama. “He’s like a middle manager,” Ailes said. Murdoch was taken aback. “I wasn’t asking you to evaluate him for a position at Fox,” Murdoch replied. “I’m asking what you thought of him as a presidential candidate.” “Well, that’s what I think,” Ailes said. A few weeks later, Ailes told Axelrod that he was concerned that Obama wanted to create a national
Roger Ailes, the Bush Team’s Wily Media Man.” 83. After landing a job Donald Baer, “Roger Rabid,” Manhattan, Inc., Sept. 1989. 84. One day, in the spring Junod, “Roger Ailes on Roger Ailes: The Interview Transcripts, Part 2.” 85. “It felt like a picture-perfect” Author interview with Ohio University alumnus Arthur Nolletti. 86. Students went for hayrides See, for instance, Athena, 1959 (Ohio University yearbook), 32. 87. During Ailes’s sophomore year The Post (Ohio University), May 19, 1960.
employed Manhattan PR firm Hiltzik Strategies. 11. Tensions continued Steve Kraukauer, “Exclusive: Glenn Beck Launches ‘News and Opinion’ Website, The Blaze,” Mediaite, Aug. 30, 2010, http://www.mediaite.com/online/exclusive-glenn-beck-launches-news-and-opinion-website-the-blaze-tonight/. 12. Fox executives told Author interview with a person familiar with the matter. 13. At times, The Blaze Emily Esfahani Smith, “Ends vs. Means: The Ethics of Undercover Journalism,” The Blaze,
jumped to the ground and bit his tongue on impact. His father rushed him to Trumbull Memorial. This time the doctors there were unable to help him. “I heard the doctor say—I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I heard him say, ‘We really can’t do anything,’ ” Roger said. His father, a short, obstinate man, pugnacious by nature, refused to give up. Robert Jr. remembered the incident vividly: “My dad bundled Roger in a blanket and put him in the family Chevy and drove to the Cleveland Clinic.” Driving
father had had his own traumatic upbringing. Robert Sr. had always told the family that his father, Melville Darwin Ailes, had died in World War I, leaving his mother, Sadie, a schoolteacher, to raise him and his siblings alone. “There were two or three different stories,” Robert Jr. remembered. “A war story made for a good one.” Sadie kept up the fiction. On the 1930 census, she described herself as a “widow.” When Robert Jr. was a senior in high school, he received a shirt box from Grandma