Media Pro: Sherman’s march
By Nicole Levy (Excerpt)
Capital New York, January 13, 2014
SHERMAN’S SUNDAY: As Tuesday’s pushed-up publication date for Gabriel Sherman’s Roger Ailes biography, The Loudest Voice in the Room, looms, the book took its proper place in the think-ier corridors of the Sunday news cycle.
—Sherman made a stop to talk about the book on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.” “I think the thing that really surprised me and will surprise a lot of your viewers and readers of my book, is that Roger Ailes is more extreme than Glenn Beck,” he told host Brian Stelter. He said that one of his sources had told him that Ailes’s solution to the immigration problem “would be to send Navy Seal trainees to our southern border and...give them direct orders to shoot and kill anyone coming into our country.” goo.gl/BVFjCY (part 1) and full transcript: goo.gl/9Bvbuv
—The proceedings got extra self-referential when Stelter noted that CNN chief Jeff Zucker had recently told reporters that Sherman’s book confirmed that, "the Republican party is being run out of News Corp. headquarters masquerading as a news channel." Sherman responded: "I think Zucker would kill for Ailes' ratings. Every executive in TV would, but I think I would put it a little bit differently. Roger Ailes, with Fox News, has surpassed the GOP... He saw a day where television was going to move ahead of the political parties and, with Fox News, he has achieved it."
—The New York Times Book Review published its big, Jacob Weisberg-penned review of the book a week ahead of time online on Sunday. Calling the biography “actually fair and balanced,” the Slate editor in chief writes that Sherman ultimately struggles to come up with an answer as to why the Fox News chief has created conflict everywhere he has gone since starting in TV in the early 1960s. “Sherman says that it bothers Ailes to be the object of so much hatred, but that he can’t help provoking it,” Weisberg writes.http://goo.gl/lYdK6B
—Speaking of the Book Review: In a move widely believed to have been calculated to deflect attention from Sherman’s book, Fox has heavily promoted an authorized biography of Ailes written by Zev Chafets, which was published 10 months ago. This week, a number of ads for the Chafets book ran in The New York Times Book Review. A Times spokesperson told The Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone that the ads were purchased by The Dilenschneider Group, a strategic communications firm founded by [Knight of Malta] Robert Dilenschneider, who Sherman refers to in his book as Ailes’s “personal PR consultant." goo.gl/iXbc2R
—David Carr’s Monday “Media Equation” column on the book focused Sherman’s huge publicity push as of late and Ailes’ calculated and aggressive pushback against it. (As we reported this week, the publisher has retained the services of powerhouse Democratic strategy firm SKD Knickerbocker to manage the message.) “What it really tells you is everything you need to know about the reality distortion field around Fox News,” Carr’s piece says of Ailes’ campaign against the book. “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.” http://goo.gl/QSLdjK
—WHAT’S INSIDE? Capital obtained a copy of the book in advance of its release. Here are some of the interesting things we found:
—Sherman begins his exhaustive notes section with a disclaimer and an explanation: “Roger Ailes did not participate in this book, notwithstanding my numerous attempts over two and a half years to arrange a sit-down interview. He discouraged sources close to him from speaking with me and went to elaborate lengths to obstruct my reporting. Through surrogates, Ailes attempted to create a counter-narrative about my journalism.” He also recalled the two meetings he did have with Ailes, one at a Hollywood Reporter cocktail party in New York, and another at an event in which Ailes was being honored in North Carolina.
—Fox Business Network was not Ailes’ idea, and he was never fond of it, Sherman writes: “The Fox Business Network was also a ratings disappointment to some News Corp executives. Ailes had never wanted the channel in the first place. When Murdoch tapped Ailes to launch it in 2007, Ailes told the five executives hired to run the channel, ‘the world doesn’t need another business network.’ Because the boss had signaled his lack of enthusiasm, executives took concerted steps to undermine the spinoff’s success. ‘Welcome aboard. You’re set up for failure, Ailes’ loyalist Ken LaCorte told Ray Hennessey, the new director of business news, not long after he was hired. Neil Cavuto, who was named managing editor of the channel, followed Ailes’ lead. ‘Cavuto wasn’t involved,’ an executive said.
—Ailes ended up in a spat with Google, thanks in part to search results for his name: “In the fall of 2011, Ailes found himself in a row with Google after the company co-sponsored a GOP debate with Fox at the Orlando Convention Center in Florida. Michael Clemente had worked hard to develop the relationship with the Internet search giant, but the relationship did not last long. Ailes was furious that the third hit in search results for his name was a liberal blog called rogerailes.blogspot.com (‘Not affiliated with the fat FOX fuck,’ the blog informed readers at the top of its homepage). Ailes told Fox executives that he wanted Google to push the blog’s ranking down. Google told Fox that they did not intervene in such matters. Afterward, Fox canceled the partnership and did not co-host future debates with Google.”