A new unauthorized biography about Fox News chief Roger Ailes was utterly obliterated by The New York Times on Sunday as “disingenuous,” “negligent,” “ridiculous,” and “Kafkaesque.”
The book by Gabriel Sherman, titled “The Loudest Voice in the Room,” uses so many anonymous sources, that the allegations seem untrustworthy, Janet Maslin wrote for the Times:
“Tucked away at the end of Gabriel Sherman’s disingenuous Roger Ailes biography, there is a note on sources that should have opened the book. Mr. Sherman has done a lot of interviewing, but there are so many citations of “author interview with a person familiar with the matter” that “The Loudest Voice in the Room” may set a record for blind items and the untrustworthiness they engender. It would have helped to know right from the get-go why Mr. Sherman found this kind of journalism necessary.”
Maslin also goes after Sherman for failing to mention that he had written a “nasty May 2011 article about Mr. Ailes and Fox News,” which would clearly have impacted Sherman’s ability to gain access to the coveted Ailes interview he longed for, but failed to secure:
“Mr. Sherman leaves out part of this story. He had recently written quite a nasty May 2011 article about Mr. Ailes and Fox News in New York Magazine. The tone was much harsher than that of this tepid book. The illustration with the piece depicted Mr. Ailes covered in smoke after a cigar had exploded in his face. The implication was that his election coverage had flamed out, and that his career was just about over. Understandably, Mr. Ailes complained that Mr. Sherman just didn’t get him.”
She goes on to trash Sherman’s inability to reconcile disparate stories about Ailes’ treatment of women, writing, “These don’t sound like the voices of the same man. More negligently, they don’t cast any light on the man whose television network makes such profitable use of the beautiful blond fembots who set it apart from all other news and political channels…”
The book, Maslin writes, fails completely in its mission as a biography:
“And it ends, ridiculously, with the image of a dying Judy Garland performing her swan song. If Mr. Sherman proves nothing else, it is that Mr. Ailes’s story warranted a more thoughtful telling than he has given it, or it is likely to get again anytime soon. Consider this a great wasted opportunity.”
A scathing New York Times review is bad news for the book, which has yet to break through any best sellers lists since its January 14 release.
New York Times reporter Judith Miller was jailed for several months in 2005 for refusing to name a source she interviewed without ultimately writing a story. Miller received an early release on her 18-month sentence for contempt of court and testified against Bush administration official Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Miller no longer works for the New York Times.