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Paranoid Fox News Boss Ailes Spies on Small Town Reporters

 
 
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FOX NEWS' PARANOID CHAIRMAN.... A few months ago, Esquire ran a fascinating profile on Roger Ailes, the chairman and CEO of Fox News, which made him appear, among other things, pretty paranoid. We learned, for example, that Ailes' office has seven television screens -- six for various on-air broadcasts and one on his desk that "shows nothing but the live feed from the security cameras" in Fox News' building in New York.

Ailes also maintains a "private-security apparatus" that is "both extensive and expensive."

Of particular interest, though, was Ailes decision to build a dream home in the Hudson River Valley, about an hour and a half north of Manhattan. The Fox News chief wanted to influence local affairs, so be bought the local newspaper, around the same time he bought all the houses around his home, leaving them empty, to help ensure his family's safety.

This week, Gawker reports on what happened after Ailes bought the local paper, and handpicked the Weekly Standard's Joe Lindsley to run it like a propaganda outlet for Ailes' agenda. Lindsley apparently wasn't entirely comfortable in his new role, so he and two of his young reporters, abruptly quit.

Ailes confronted the three staffers and accused them of badmouthing him and Elizabeth during their lunch breaks. Small towns being what they are, Lindsley, Haley, and Panny frequently drove several miles north of the News and Recorder's Cold Spring, N.Y., office to privately have lunch in another town. When Ailes accused them, he knew which restaurant they frequented, leading the three to believe that Ailes wasn't merely bluffing and that he'd actually had them followed.

After Lindsley quit for good, things got weirder. He was driving to a deli in Cold Spring for lunch earlier this month when he noticed a black Lincoln Navigator that seemed to be following him, according to several sources familiar with the incident. Lindsley drove aimlessly for a while to make sure he was being followed, and the Navigator stayed on him. Then he got a look at the driver, who was a News Corporation security staffer that Lindsley happened to know socially. Lindsley continued on his way and later called the driver to ask if he was following him. The answer was yes, at Ailes' direction.

There was also this remarkable anecdote.

Last winter, not long before Lindsley tendered his resignation, the burglar alarm in the Ailes' Garrison estate went off while Roger and Elizabeth were away. Roger's first call after the police was to Lindsley, several sources say. Ailes asked him to rush to the home to let the police into the gate that blocking driveway, but when Lindsley arrived before the police, Ailes ordered him to enter the home in an effort to scare off the intruder. Speaking to Lindsley on his cell phone, Ailes led him around the darkened house, telling him which rooms to check and which lights to turn on to startle the burglar. It turned out to be a false alarm.

Noting all of this, Jon Chait suggests Ailes is "totally bonkers." That seems like a reasonable assessment.

I'd just add that Ailes takes a hands-on leadership role at his Republican cable news channel, which routinely covers developments through a deeply paranoid lens. Given what we know of Fox News' chairman and CEO, now we know why.

Washington Monthly / By Steve Benen

Posted at April 19, 2011, 5:25am

 
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