Gabriel Sherman said he was writing a fair take on Roger Ailes, the Northwest Daily Marker warned you, here that it would be attack journalism. When Gabriel Sherman said it would be accurate, the Northwest Daily Marker warned you that accuracy is not Gabriel Sherman’s strength and when Gabriel Sherman and his water carriers demonstrated that Sherman was practicing stalkeratzi tactics, the Northwest Daily Marker gave him the opportunity to do the right thing. Then Sherman’s book came out.
If one takes a swing at the King, one should be sure to knock him out. Gabriel Sherman has not even knocked Roger Ailes down. We are not the only one’s who noticed. Behold: the NY Times, the Washington Post, Slate, the Baltimore Sun, USA Today and The Hollywood Reporter. Not a right wing writer in the bunch. And one, Erik Wemple of the Washington Post, was a very consistent and constant defender of Gabriel Sherman and his tactics … even tactics like cyber harassing Ailes’ wife.
What even the left wing media has noticed is that Sherman–despite the years-long time to research–has simply gotten it wrong. From the big picture–Sherman’s imaginary whale, an Ailes that divided America, failed to appear–to the details, where Sherman’s own fact-checkers erase one of Gabriel Sherman’s few salacious selling points of “The Loudest Voice In The Room,” the book cannot back up its charges and adds nothing of note to the man with whom the author never spoke in its pursuit.
After four years of studying Roger Ailes, Gabriel Sherman failed to do the one thing that any author with that much time to focus should have easily accomplished. In nearly 600 pages of writing, Gabriel Sherman failed to prove the very thesis that appears on the cover of his own book, namely that Roger Ailes somehow divided a country.
A TV network dividing a nation is an odd case to make in the first place; the math is simply not on Sherman’s side and no “writing around” his subject (as Gabriel Sherman was left to do when Ailes didn’t speak with him) gets anywhere near proving Sherman’s central thesis on Ailes. Yes, Fox News dominates cable news and has for 141 consecutive months, but about 95% of Americans never watch the network. Based on total viewers, the three most popular programs on Fox News in 2013 account for a combined viewership of roughly 6,199,000 people in a country of over 319,000,000 people (or about 239,250,000 people over eighteen years of age). Even if every person who views Fox is somehow magically changed into copies of Gabriel Sherman’s imaginary Roger Ailes, 6 million people who watch TV a lot simply do not divide 239 million who can’t be bothered to tune in. As Erik Wemple points out, Gabriel Sherman himself cannot explain his assertion.
If Sherman had only missed on the big picture but added details that provided the reader a new understanding of Roger Ailes, the book would be, while not meaningful, at least interesting. But, in “The Loudest Voice In The Room,” the reader simply cannot trust the details. Gabriel Sherman recounts a story of a dinner between two media power brokers, an intimate dinner between Roger Ailes and Discovery Network President, David Zaslav. According to Gabriel Sherman, at that very dinner, Roger Ailes issued an anti-semitic slur against Mr. Zaslav. Random House, the publisher of “The Loudest Voice In The Room,” found that particular passage so important that it was among the teaser passages they released to the media. The problem? According to the two men who actually attended the dinner, it never happened, as Breitbart notes by way of quoting The New York Times. To make the problem worse and to drive the trust rating for Sherman even lower, readers don’t learn that both men deny it from Sherman’s prose, they only learn it from the footnotes of “The Loudest Voice In The Room” … if anyone besides book reviewers–or Random House’s fact checkers and lawyers–ever read the footnotes.
By failing to provide any proof at all for his central theme that Ailes has divided a country, to selling stories that his own fact-checkers do not support, the rest of the tales about Roger Ailes that Gabriel Sherman relays in “The Loudest Voice In The Room,” while salacious and larger than life, can only been seen in the light of what they actually are: second and third hand musings in a book that hoped to reveal a new Citizen Kane, but instead introduces readers to a new Kitty Kelly.