A new biography of Roger Ailes, the chairman and CEO of Fox News, casts him as a volatile executive unafraid to use blunt, offensive language or push a nakedly political agenda, The New York Times reports. Fox News has denied the book’s most colorful claims about the network boss.
The Loudest Voice in the Room, by New York Magazine contributing editor Gabriel Sherman, alleges that Ailes uttered an anti-Semitic remark about a rival in 1995, called Fox host Bill O’Reilly “a book salesman with a TV show” and offered television producer Randi Harrison a raise “if you agree to have sex with me whenever I want.”
The biography delves into Ailes’ political ambitions and claims he used Fox to promote a conservative agenda. Sherman credits Ailes, who began his career as an aide to Richard Nixon, with pioneering the use of television in political campaigns while a consultant. According to the Times, the book claims Ailes told Fox News executives before the 2012 presidential election, “I want to elect the next president,” and promoted Republican Mitt Romney heavily on Fox News shows. The book claims he advised Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan on his television skills.
The Loudest Voice in the Room, due to be published on Jan. 21, has already drawn strenuous denials from Fox News. A spokesperson for the network responded to the allegations on Tuesday, saying, “These charges are false. While we have not read the book, the only reality here is that Gabe was not provided any direct access to Roger Ailes, and the book was never fact-checked with Fox News.” The Times obtained a copy before publication.
Sherman says that he interviewed more than 600 current and former employees of Ailes when he was writing the book and says he is willing to publicly defend it after publication. He wrote in an email to the Times, “I consider Roger Ailes to be one of the most fascinating, consequential figures in contemporary American life. I wrote this book to shed light on the full scope of his talents and power, which have found their fullest expression at Fox News.”
Fox News commentator Sean Hannity has called Sherman a “phony journalist” on Twitter. David Zaslav, now an executive at the Discovery Channel, denied that Ailes made the anti-Semitic comment about him as Sherman reports.
For his part, Ailes said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, “Attacking me and Fox News is nothing new – it’s a cottage industry. What’s new is that Random House refused to fact check the content with me or Fox News — that tells you everything you need to know about this book and its agenda.”