For everyone who detected a smelly mess at FOX NEWS, the “Ailes Book” offers a few “ah-ha’s” that explain the odd timing and persistent stream of negative views that flow from the network. The book is titled “The Loudest Voice in the Room” (Random House, 2013), written by a New York journalist, Gabriel Sherman.
I usually shy away from books that have that hint of sensationalism: literature clad in controversy that promises spurious political rumor based on more rumor. Usually, worthless, pointless, and puerile. However, I have found that there is far more to this book than its sordid cover graphics portend.
Fueled by my own misgivings about the news network that Roger Ailes has run for nearly a decade, I must admit that the words “bombastic” and “Fox News” blared out at me like trumpets. Standing in the middle of the book store, pretending to be aloof to the bulging typography, I scanned, assessed, then succumbed.
I’ll put out a few questions to the critics of the book – noting perhaps that my own bias is to favor anything that may muzzle the Fox machine, albeit just a little. But is it too much to say that Fox News pushes an agenda and has been highly critical of President Obama (and other Democrats)? Is it a fair assessment that Fox News journalists appear to embrace the Republican conservative agenda (aka “Tea Party”)? Is it reasonable, all things being equal, that Fox News excels it comes to sensationalizing its own headlines and content?
I agree with pundits who say that news ought to be critical of political leadership; all views must be examined; all actions debated. However, I am with the many people who worry that Fox News has pushed too far. According to Sherman’s reporting, Ailes has been behind it all, fired up by an unapologetic unwavering ultraconservative Christian political agenda that has pushed Fox News to the extreme:
Among the many claims Sherman makes in this book:
- Ailes has sought to damage political initiatives and personalities that do not pass his ideological litmus. No good news for anything that doesn’t pass the Ailes sniff test.
- Ever got the feeling that Fox News was an engine of education, teaching fans by rote the key points of every sordid turn? Apparently, according to Sherman, that’s an Ailes specialty.
- According to several eyewitnesses, Ailes exercises over-the-top manipulation over how and when reporters covered certain stories – rewarding those who followed his lede (intentional).
In case you miss the point, Sherman does not decry the ‘conservative media agenda.’ In fact, he demonstrates that Americans expect and are entertained by political bias from their favorite journalists. He notes that we like it when factoids come with a bit of drama (as Ailes is quoted saying: sensationalism sells). However, where Sherman leaves is how the ‘bombastic’ Roger Ailes taken entertainment too far. What he has accomplished – either by accident or by design – should be beyond our tolerance and, in the worst sense, is wholly dangerous to the continuation of the Union.
Gabriel Sherman has accomplished a “Woodward & Bernstein” on the Ultraconservatives’s chief propaganda engine; how fitting that Fox News leadership has been felled by the sword of sensationalism.
Sherman has delivered a substantial catalog of factoids derived from more than 600 personal and corroborated interviews – factual evidence that has the mettle of unimpeachable authority. It’s up to us to consume this information and force an end to this divisive, derisive and dismissive reign of falsehood and fakery at Fox News.