A deeply reported journey inside the secretive world of Fox News and the life of its combative, visionary founder.
When Rupert Murdoch enlisted Roger Ailes to launch a cable news network in 1996, American politics and media changed forever. Now, with a remarkable level of detail and insight, New York magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman brings Ailes's unique genius to life, along with the outsize personalities - Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly, Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, and others - who have helped Fox News play a defining role in the great social and political controversies of the past two decades.
From the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal to the Bush-Gore recount, from the war in Iraq to the Tea Party attack on the Obama presidency, Roger Ailes has developed an unrivaled power to sway the national agenda. Even more, he has become the indispensable figure in conservative America and the man any Republican politician with presidential aspirations must court.
How did this man, whose life story has until now been shrouded in myth, become the master strategist of our political landscape? In revelatory detail, Sherman chronicles the rise of Ailes, a sickly kid from an Ohio factory town who, through sheer willpower, the flair of a showman, fierce corporate politicking, and a profound understanding of the priorities of middle America, built the most influential television news empire of our time.
Drawing on hundreds of interviews with Fox News insiders past and present, Sherman documents Ailes's tactical acuity as he battles the press, business rivals, and countless real and perceived enemies inside and outside Fox.
Roger Ailes's life is a story worthy of Citizen Kane. The Loudest Voice in the Room is an extraordinary feat of reportage with a compelling human drama at its heart.
©2014 Gabriel Sherman (P)2014 Random House Audio
Whether you're a righty or lefty, this book puts together the puzzle pieces of how American politics has become so polarized over the last 20 years. It will not cause anyone to switch political parties, but it will explain how we got from point A to point B.
Roger Ailes is a media genius. He was the first to figure out that Americans vote based on how they feel rather than how they think, and that TV was the best way to communicate emotion.
Ailes was never a news person ("newsie" as they are called in the TV industry). Aisles will probably be the first to admit that. He is impervious to being shamed by fact-checking because that's not his game. Making money and persuading people to his conservative politics are his goals. His ends justify his means. Any means.
The author traces Ailes's humble beginnings from Warren Ohio to the NYC media vortex. As Ailes ages, he becomes increasingly paranoid and retaliatory. The last part of the book which deals with Ailes's war with his small NY hometown newspaper and local politicians is a microcosm of his life. It's unintentionally hilarious with an almost post-modern feel. They should teach this chapter in journalism school. It reminded me of The World According to Garp, except that it really happened.
The predictable, preemptive push-back by Ailes and his supporters is vintage Aisles. Rather than undermine the book's validity, ironically it serves as corroboration because it's so Aisle-ian.
Much of the book's criticism centers on Ailes not being interviewed. But the book's last chapter explains that the author quoted 614 live sources close to Ailes, most of whom were corroborated by other sources. The author asked Ailes a dozen times to be interviewed. Ailes tried hard to block this book, so why should he add to its credibility by consenting to being interviewed? This is also classic Ailes.
Regardless of your politics, you need to read or listen to this book to fully understand the most important American politician since Reagan. I seldom re-read or re-listen to a book, but I'm doing that now.
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
A chilling revelation of Fox News, its founder Roger Ailes, its 'stars' and the cold-blooded manipulation of America's viewers.
Had it not been for the author's assurances that the content of this book has been fully vetted by him and two fact-checkers, I would have thought this pretty outrageous and nauseating fiction. But I fully understand that when the subject refuses to agree to an interview unless his demands for censorship are met, the author has little choice but to go with second-hand accounts. And the picture is far from pretty. Very few people that are mentioned in the book come through as decent; most [characters--that is how they struck me at least] are much more self-serving and cowardly than anybody I happen to have had the good chance to meet in my life. Their egomania, sense of entitlement, and lack of common compassion proved a little too much to handle in large doses, which partly explains why it took me nearly a month to finish a pretty straightforward account of the life of Roger Ailes.
I found the book riveting. It is extremely thorough and well researched.
Roger Ailes is revealed to be a psychotic, vindictive, paranoid who masterminded the
tragedy that is Fox News.
A must read for anyone who has wondered why Fox News Corp is so demented and dangerous.
Meticulously researched and full of anecdotes that would make Fox News lover's hair curl.
Roger Ailes is a successful leader. End of story. His style and his goals may not be mainstream but he gets the job done. How he gets it done is as riveting as any good boardroom drama.
I am the message.
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