oe Lindsley, once so close to Roger Ailes that he was reportedly dubbed “Ailes Jr.” but was later the target of Ailes' vindictiveness once he broke away, has written a roman à clef about their relationship. But the Politico article about Lindsley may be better than his book.
Lindsley was better positioned than, probably, anyone else to write a tell-all about Ailes because a) the two were so close Lindsley actually lived with Ailes and his wife for a time and b) Lindsley has not signed any non-disclosure agreement.
Alas, this does not seem to be the book I’d been hoping for. It may have some interesting details, however. That much is hinted at in a fascinating article about Lindsley in Politico.
For example, there are these tidbits via Politico reporter Eliana Johnson:
Ailes’ secretary even leaned on Fox News staffers and on-air talent to make themselves available as dates for Lindsley, who, starting in 2009, served as editor-in-chief for two newspapers Ailes had purchased in upstate New York—and, apart from the Aileses, led a relatively isolated life there.
But then Lindsley suddenly decided to leave, throwing the then 71-year-old media mogul into a panic. Ailes was so furious about his departure that he tried to ensure Lindsley could never work as a journalist in Washington. Or, at least, that’s what he told Bill Kristol shortly after Lindsley’s departure.
Given what we know now about Ailes, the phrase “leaned on” staffers and talent (presumably female) to “make themselves available as dates” is chilling. But Johnson did not explain further and I’m not sure the book, called “Fake News, True Story,” would help. “Reading Fake News, True Story, it’s hard to tell where real life ends and the novel begins,” Johnson says. “The emotional toll of Lindsley’s experience is evident in the book, spilling out in purple prose.”
Fortunately for inquiring minds who don’t like purple prose or such blurred lines between fact and fantasy, Johnson uncovered some astonishing facts from credible sources. If you’re wondering why Bill Kristol stopped appearing on Fox, here’s your answer:
“Shortly after Lindsley’s departure in 2011, alarmed by what his newly liberated deputy might say, Ailes, at a meeting in his office at News Corporation headquarters in Manhattan and again in subsequent phone conversations, pressed Kristol to blackball Lindsley in Washington media circles, according to several sources familiar with the conversation. Kristol told Ailes he didn’t have the power to do that. When Kristol’s Fox News contract expired at the end of 2012, the network did not renew it, and his relationship with the network was permanently severed.
Johnson has self-published the book and you can read the first chapter online for free. If, like me, you can tell it’s not your sort of book, do make sure to read Johnson’s article because some of Lindsley’s observations about Ailes are striking:
Though prone to anger and impatience, he could also be quite jolly. He could live and laugh in a way that lean, treadmill-running individuals, for whom life is one constant stress test, cannot. This aura of jolliness surrounding a bitter, angry, and perhaps fearfully sad core made him absolutely mysterious and hence ferociously powerful.
Ailes was convinced, for example, that President Obama was working an operative inside Fox News, and he hounded staff members in an effort to out the mole, according to one Fox News executive. “He couldn’t rest easy at all in life. Peace was a phantom. He was always raging,” Lindsley says of Ailes.
Maybe those are the kinds of details to make you reconsider. But I feel more comfortable with Gabriel Sherman’s very readable biography of Ailes: The Loudest Voice in The Room. And no, I don’t have any financial interest in saying so.
Originally published at Newshounds.us