paper trail

Roger Ailes considers legal action against "New York" magazine

Tobias Wolff. Photo: Mark Coggins

Gabriel Sherman’s long-expected deep dive into the sexual harassment allegations against former Fox News President Roger Ailes went live this weekend. Sherman, the author of the book The Loudest Voice in the Room, chronicles Ailes’s career trajectory—defined by ”his volcanic temper, paranoia, and ruthlessness”—along with his rise and fall at Fox News. After Ailes’s departure, employees “described feeling like being part of a totalitarian regime whose dictator has just been toppled.” “As of November 9, there will be a bloodbath at Fox,” an unnamed Fox host told Sherman. “After the election, the prime-time lineup could be eviscerated.” Meanwhile, Ailes has hired Charles Harder, the lawyer who defended Hulk Hogan against Gawker Media, for a possible defamation lawsuit against Sherman for his series of articles on Ailes in New York magazine.

Harder is also defending Melania Trump in her defamation lawsuit against the Daily Mail and others. Wayne Barrett, author of the now-classic (and recently reissued) Trump: The Deals and the Downfall, spoke with The Guardian about the case, saying the legal action is “a threat to other reporters, publishers, news organizations.” Barrett said that “Trump had bragged to him nearly 40 years ago about ‘breaking reporters.’”

The Newspaper Association of America will change its name to the News Media Alliance this week. CEO David Chavern said that the new name should not be taken as a disparagement of the newspaper. Instead the new moniker “indicates just how many new ways our members are delivering journalism to their communities.”

At The Guardian, writers reflect on the Obama presidency. Author Tobias Wolff says that disappointment in the Obama presidency “comes down to immaturity—in us, not him.” Novelist Akhil Sharma said that the last eight years has made him “intolerant of certain types of stupidity from white people.” Attica Locke writes that Obama’s legacy is just beginning: “He could be like Jimmy Carter.”

Literary agents say that Barack and Michelle Obama might earn anywhere from $20 million to $45 million in book deals after the presidency. “His is going to be easily the most valuable presidential memoir ever,” according to one book agent. Publishers, however, “balked at such lofty evaluations, with several saying Mr. Obama is unlikely to earn more than $12 million and Mrs. Obama $10 million.”

In the New Yorker, Ian Parker profiles Pete Wells, the New York Times restaurant critic who has subjected himself to such dining experiences as Senor Frog’s, Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, and Per Se. Parker calls dining with the critic, which requires restaurant staff perform a balancing act of recognizing and catering to Wells without making it clear that they are doing so, “an episode of Cold War fiction involving futile charades and a likely defenestration.”