Roger Ailes Is Trying To Smear a Reporter for Being Right About Him

Ailes's lawyers have launched a shockingly vicious and personal attack against Gabe Sherman. The reason? Because he's telling the truth.
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Ailes's lawyers have launched a shockingly vicious and personal attack against Gabe Sherman. The reason? Because he's telling the truth.

For the past few years, if you've wanted to know what's going on inside Fox News, up to and including every sordid detail out of the office of its contemptible leader, Roger Ailes, you've turned only to one man: Gabe Sherman. The intrepid reporter for New York Magazine has made a cottage industry out of digging into the Fox News dirt, breaking story after story involving the network and its inner workings. Sherman wrote the book on Roger Ailes, literally: Two years ago his unauthorized biography of Ailes, The Loudest Voice in the Room, was a New York Times bestseller, and since then his sources inside Fox News have delivered so much solid information for him that any time you heard an insider report come out of the network, it was a pretty sure bet Sherman's name was attached to the byline.

Because of this, as you can imagine, Roger Ailes fucking loathes Gabe Sherman with the heat and force of a star going nova. Just within the last couple of months or so, Sherman's broken wide open the story of the catastrophic crisis that ended Ailes's career at the network he created. It was Sherman who uncovered the most damning details of the sexual harassment scandal swirling around Ailes, including the fact that Megyn Kelly had told an internal review of Gretchen Carlson's harassment lawsuit claims that she too had been a victim of Ailes. Sherman also reported on Andrea Tantaros's upping of the ante in the case, in which she filed a separate suit against Ailes and several other Fox News honchos she claims protected him as he made unwanted sexual advances toward female talent upon female talent under the Fox News tent. 

Given that Ailes has, throughout most of his career, taken no criticism lying down, it's not a surprise to learn that Sherman sits atop his enemies list and he's gone out of his way to make the reporter's life a living hell. It's been known for a while that during his time spent putting together the Ailes biography, Ailes had him smeared in the conservative press to the point where his life was even threatened. But according to a new story in The Daily Beast, rather than concentrating solely on fending off the myriad accusations against him, Ailes is still finding time to blame his old nemesis for the the shit that's come down on him. The piece details how a law firm contacted the Beast to launch a preemptive strike against Sherman's reporting, given that he's prepping a new article on Ailes's recent troubles. But it's the tone and the personal nature of that strike that's really worthy of a few raised eyebrows.

The report claims that in a single day, two of Ailes's high-profile lawyers -- former Democratic operative Susan Estrich and Mark Mukasey, the son of former U.S. attorney general Michael Mukasey -- viciously insulted Sherman to the Beast. "Gabe Sherman is a virus, and is too small to exist on his own, and has obviously attached himself to the Ailes family to try to suck the life out of them,” Mukasey said, after sending an e-mail in which he trawled for an opportunity to offer a comment. "Roger is fine and doing well, and is not going to allow a virus like that to poison the atmosphere." Estrich, meanwhile, said of Sherman's recent reporting, “This is Gabe Sherman’s last stand, and it falls flat." 

What's so amusing about these comments isn't how irrationally savage they are; that kind of thing is par for the course out of Camp Ailes. What's amusing is how thoroughly detached from reality they are. The fact is that Sherman's reporting has been excellent when judged by the only standard that matters: the question of whether his information is correct. And it is. Time and time again, it is. That's what makes Ailes's lawyer's attacks so remarkably odd -- they feel like they're meant not for the audience of The Daily Beast and the general public but only for those deep inside the Fox News bubble. You know, people who believe any old horseshit the conservative media tells them. The reality here is that Gabe Sherman's reporting has been entirely on the mark and the reason Ailes and his lawyers hate him so much is exactly that.     

Roger Ailes wouldn't need to beat Gabe Sherman into the ground if he weren't a threat -- and he wouldn't be a threat if his reporting was lousy. No, Sherman is a good reporter who, because of that, has the ability to be a thorn in the side of Ailes -- and Ailes's high-priced asshole lawyers can't have that, so they tear into him in an effort to discredit him. But they can't, not as long as Sherman's continuing to break new information and that information turns out to be legit. And so far, that's what Sherman's reporting has been. Ailes is just pissed he can't shut him up.