Last month, a ruckus kicked off when Roger Ailes’ wife, Elizabeth Ailes, hinted in a tweet that New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, author of a forthcoming unauthorized book about her husband and Fox News, had been bothering her and had previously been asked to leave her alone, apparently to no avail.
@gabrielsherman is following me? He’s been asked before to leave me alone but he won’t stop.
— ELIZABETH AILES (@ELIZABETH_AILES) March 14, 2013
This followed Fox commentator Andrea Tantaros suggesting last year that Sherman was a “harasser” who had been engaging in “stalker media” tactics against Beth Ailes.
Roger Ailes has reportedly steadfastly refused to deal with Sherman or talk to him under any circumstances, which suggests a discomfort with Sherman’s methods and/or the narrative of his book.
Now comes this scathing piece from former Jimmy Carter adviser and Fox News contributor Pat Caddell, an interesting trip down memory lane regarding the infamous “Malaise” speech in which he blasts Sherman’s “inaccuracy” and “incompetence,” and which ends with him urging Sherman to “Grow up, get a life, and most of all, leave me alone” (emphasis added).
It all seems a bit reminiscent of interactions between British paparazzi and, say, members of the Royal family or various celebrities vis a vis attempts to “cover” their non-celebrity or underage family members.
But is that what’s going on here? Is Sherman taking an approach to “journalism” like that endorsed by publishers of half-sized London papers featuring topless women on page 3?
Or is Ailes, and are various figures associated with him or his network, making a fuss over nothing?
Or is this, as some people have suggested, a story about media bias writ large as Sherman pens a book that is likely to be critical of Fox, on the dime of the Soros-funded New America’s Foundation?
Over recent years, certain individuals have apparently not been able to help themselves when it comes to a tendency to engage in bad behavior exploiting the Internet and social media. That, in turn, has made a lot of people wary about any unsolicited communication and sensitive to any behavior that feels intrusive and bothersome whatsoever, even if it is relatively innocuous. This has especially been the case with conservative women, many of whom have (as I recently noted) been subjected to some pretty nasty and harassing stuff coming from liberal men.
Perhaps that is what is going on with these various individuals associated with Fox News or Roger Ailes, vis a vis Sherman– their prior experience is causing them to read Sherman’s actions as more worthy of concern than they really are.
Then again, there seems to be a pattern of people associated with Fox or Roger Ailes feeling harassed by Sherman, or identifying his behavior towards others as troublesome in a way that goes beyond the boundaries of merely being annoying or irritating. And he seems to have continued to attempt interaction when he has, allegedly anyway, been told people don’t want anything to do with him and been alerted to the fact that his behavior may be out of bounds.
An author has to do his homework, to be sure. That is especially so if he’s writing a book about a subject where the principal actor(s) refuse to talk to him at all, which in default of really extensive research could raise questions about his sourcing. But Sherman’s actions are obviously being perceived by some of his targets for research as more than just him “doing his homework” at this point.
Or maybe this is all a lefty hit-job on Fox, designed to damage Fox’s credibility and make people view MSNBC more favorably.
I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s getting less likely by the day that I read the book or any of its excerpts, unless it requires a major-league fact-checking, which it could if Sherman can’t get Ailes himself to talk to him. Tabloid-esque journalism isn’t exactly my thing.