With “The Loudest Voice in the Room,” Gabriel Sherman‘s unauthorized biography of Roger Ailes set for release tomorrow, New York Times media reporter David Carr uses his Monday column to discuss his own coverage of Fox News and its founder over the years:
I’ve dealt with Mr. Ailes while covering the news media, and beyond his charms and smarts, he is animated by a belief that just about everyone would like to see him laid low. Even as he has vanquished his opponents, he clings to the role of aggrieved underdog, and Mr. Sherman’s critical book reinforces that worldview.
What drives this need to create conflict? In his actually fair and balanced, carefully documented biography, Sherman struggles to come up with an answer. (He does so, it bears noting, without the cooperation of his subject, who set a new benchmark for biographical obstruction by working with the journalist Zev Chafets to rush a more sympathetic portrayal out first.) Ailes’s father, who was abandoned by a father with a degree from Harvard, spent his career working as a foreman in the maintenance department at Packard Electric, an automotive manufacturer. But Ailes himself grew up cared and provided for in an intact family
in the middle-class town of Warren, Ohio. A diagnosis of hemophilia made his parents think he was living on borrowed time. But he was encouraged not to let the disability stand in his way, and for the most part it didn’t. His father had a cruel streak, which led to a divorce from his less-than-affectionate mother, but not until after Roger and his older brother — who did speak to Sherman — had gone away to college.