A new biography of Fox News chairman Roger Ailes alleges that he often insulted his own on-air talent and offered at least one employee money for sex during a contract negotiation.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that a section of Gabriel Sherman’s book on Ailes will deal with his offer to producer Randi Harrison that he would pay her an extra $100 a week “if you agree to have sex with me whenever I want.”
At the time, Ailes was an executive at NBC. Ailes later served as president of the network’s cable spinoff CNBC before leaving in 1996 to begin the process of launching Fox News.
Sherman’s book also describes a 1995 incident in which Ailes allegedly insulted to another NBC executive, David Zaslav, by using a phrase that included the words “little Jew” and profanity, a claim backed by an independent probe ordered by the network; Ailes’ supervisor at the time, then-NBC CEO Bob Wright, is quoted in the book as saying, “My conclusion was that [Ailes] probably said it.”
However, Zaslav — now the head of Discovery Communications — denied the story to the Times.
“We fought with each other and we fought with a lot of other people,” Zaslav said on Tuesday. “But this allegation is false.”
Fox News issued a similar statement on Tuesday, telling the Times, “These charges are false. While we have not read the book, the only reality here is that Gabe was not provided any direct access to Roger Ailes and the book was never fact-checked with Fox News.”
But Random House, which will publish Sherman’s work on Jan. 21, defended it in a separate statement.
“We fully stand by the book,” spokeswoman Theresa Zoro was quoted as saying. “If anyone has issues with it, we will respond with the facts as Gabe Sherman has reported them.”
For his part, Sherman told the Times via email that he wrote the 560-page book — including 100 pages devoted to a bibliography and source notes — “to shed light on the full scope of [Ailes'] talents and power.” Sherman reportedly interviewed 614 people during his reporting.
The book will also reportedly cover Ailes’ habit of insulting hosts like Bill O’Reilly (“a book salesman with a TV show”) and Brian Kilmeade (“a soccer coach from Long Island”) in private, and his 2012 declaration to network executives that “I want to elect the next president.”
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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