At the outset of Vladimir Putin's reign, masked government strongmen burst into the halls of the Independent Television Station (NTV is the Russian acronym) and wrestled the control of this media empire away from an oligarch fleeing to Israeli shores and into the hands of the resurging Russian state.
In a sense this was a uniquely Russian story, and yet the themes of this power play echo in the American landscape.
Media power, government collusion with that power and -yes- oligarchy (with a human face here in the USA).
A life of an individual told by his associates is a jumble of anecdotes, metaphors, gossip and flawed memories. That is what a biography always was and always will be.
Any reader who reads a biography and believes that he is getting a total portrait of a single person is an idiot.
The bigger question -the true mark of a success or failure of a biography- is whether a larger truth emerges out of a swamp of gossip and recollections. Similar to way a lotus rises out of the mud.
In this book a larger narrative does emerge and the developing picture isn't all that agreeable to the eyes of a common citizen.
News Corporation's media foot soldiers have attacked this book on account of a story it tells of Roger Ailes offering a female underling money for sex. Although Fox News made millions of dollars peddling salacious rumors about Bill Clinton and there are youtube compilations of female Fox News anchors crossing and uncrossing their legs, we are expected to believe that their corporate offices are filled with asexual boy scouts.
The sexual harassment tale sounds plausible to me; but even if it was proven to be totally false it does nothing to amend the larger narrative of the book.
Forget Roger Ailes, the main protagonist here is power in modern America. The flow of power away from the smoke-filled backrooms and into greenrooms and shiny studios.
Gabriel Sherman does -in one volume- present a narrative similar to that Robert Caro does in his unfinished biography of Lyndon Johnson. This is a study of power: its acquisition, its nature and its use.
The Loudest Voice in the Room is a good listen and I recommend it. The narration is perfect.
Ivan's Shady Existence Blog