Book review: ‘The Loudest Voice in the Room,’ an unflattering portrait of Fox News chief Ailes

In The News Piece in Washington Post
Jan. 14, 2014

Gabriel Sherman’s book The Loudest Voice in the Room was reviewed in the Washington Post.

In anticipation of the release of Gabriel Sherman’s book on Fox News chief Roger Ailes, the network issued a preemptive statement dismissing the author’s findings. It read, in part, “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.”
And so Sherman’s biography — The Loudest Voice in the Room — lacks fresh, on-the-record quotations from the subject. On one level, that’s a disaster: Ailes is one of the great quote givers of his time. Where most media executives make like NFL coaches with their platitudes, Ailes speaks with the freshness and candor of a remarkable talent with supreme job security, sitting atop the No. 1 cable news network, which has a market value once estimated at $12 billion. Last year, for example, Ailes spoke with the New Republic about his network’s outreach efforts to Latinos. Along the way, he said this: “The president likes to divide people into groups. He’s too busy getting the middle class to hate rich people, blacks to hate whites. He is busy trying to get everybody to hate each other.”
No such goodies for Sherman, which is just as well. With 22 chapters and 500 pages of exacting prose and protracted source notes, Sherman, a contributing editor at New York magazine, delivers a portrait of a manipulating, conniving, controlling, petty and fear-mongering man — which suggests that the only worthwhile biography of Roger Ailes is an unauthorized biography of Roger Ailes. When Sherman attempted to secure Ailes’s cooperation for the book, Fox News PR honcho Brian Lewis, who has since left the network, stipulated that the author must “refrain from using any background quotes or anecdotes that Ailes could consider ‘negative,’ ” according to the book. No deal, said Sherman.