Roger Ailes' Explosive New Biography: 5 Biggest Shockers

Roger Ailes has a panic room and threatened a woman with a chair -- and other scoops from Gabriel Sherman's book.

Fox News chief Roger Ailes, pictured in April 2012, sent an envoy to Afghanistan early last year to encourage General David Petraeus to run against Barack Obama for the US presidency, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The first excerpt of “The Loudest Voice in the Room,” Gabriel Sherman’s biography of Fox News chief Roger Ailes, has dropped on the website of New York magazine. The piece depicts a familiar story — Ailes’ travails in his weekend community of Garrison, N.Y., after attempting to mold the local paper in Fox News’ image, reported in the New Yorker in 2011. But fans or detractors of that story will find, here, a much fuller context. Here are the biggest revelations from a story that’s but one aspect of the Ailes saga.

Ailes hired a 25-year-old as editor-in-chief — then let him stay over:

In February 2009, Ailes met Joe Lindsley, a 25-year-old journalist, for lunch in his private third-floor dining room at Fox News. A fast-rising star in the conservative movement, Lindsley had attended Notre Dame, where he launched The Irish Rover to combat the liberal bias of the Notre Dame News. [...] Lindsley jumped at the opportunity to work directly for an icon of the cause. Without time to line up an apartment, Lindsley moved into the pool house on the north end of Roger and Beth’s property.

But things got a bit too close over time — culminating in Lindsley’s departing the paper:

Lindsley began to feel smothered by Roger and Beth’s attentions. Instead of letting Lindsley go home to visit his family in North Carolina, Roger invited his sisters for an extended stay at the mountain. When Lindsley said he wanted to go on vacation to visit relatives in Ireland, Roger and Beth said they would go with him. They flew together on News Corp.’s private jet. Some days Lindsley felt that Champ, Roger’s German shepherd, was his only friend.

Local news competitor Gordon Stewart, and others, took a dim view of reporting on the local-news saga in the New Yorker:

Ailes was pleased with the result. “He called me the day after the story ran,” Stewart recalled, “and said he liked it and thought Boyer was really good, and Beth loved her picture.” Stewart and other townsfolk had a much dimmer view. They felt Boyer got spun.

And in the fall of 2012, Ailes hired Boyer as a Fox editor-at-large.

After a pro-zoning Democrat won municipal office, Ailes got threatening:


Later that day, his phone rang. “You have no fucking idea what you’ve done!” Shea immediately recognized the voice. “You have no idea what you’re up against. If you want a war, you’ll have a battle, but it won’t be a long battle.”

“It was an accurate portrayal of the exchange,” Shea said calmly. “If you’re offended, I’m sorry about that, but it was accurate.”

“Listen,” Ailes seethed, “don’t be naive about these things. I will destroy your life.”

Ailes caused a scene at a town meeting over zoning — he didn’t want his rights as a homeowner interfered with:

Ailes sat down and unbuttoned his suit jacket, then noticed that a woman had been shooting a video of him with her iPhone. “Take it off,” Roger growled. He leaned forward and grabbed a chair, shaking it menacingly.

“What are you doing to the chair, sir?” she asked. Roger sat back and folded his hands in his lap.

In all, Ailes has made a lot of enemies. But he needn’t worry — he has a contingency plan:

Other local contractors helped install a bunker that could weather a terrorist attack underneath their mansion. “He can live in there for more than six months,” a friend who has visited it said. “There are bedrooms, a couple of TVs, water, and freeze-dried food.” “I’m not allowed to talk about it,” Ailes’s older brother Robert said. “I think the proper term is a ‘panic room.’ ”

The full story is at New York’s site; the website for Sherman’s book, where the author and publisher will fight back against predicted Fox News reprisals, is here.

 

Daniel D'Addario is a staff reporter for Salon's entertainment section. Follow him on Twitter @DPD_

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