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The Loudest Voice in the Room

How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News - and Divided a Country
Narrated by: Erik Singer
Length: 17 hrs and 36 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Summary

A revelatory journey inside the world of Fox News and Roger Ailes - the brash, sometimes combative network head who helped fuel the rise of Donald Trump

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • NOW A SHOWTIME LIMITED SERIES • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR

When Rupert Murdoch enlisted Roger Ailes to launch a cable news network in 1996, American politics and media changed forever. With a remarkable level of detail and insight, Vanity Fair magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman puts Ailes’s unique genius on display, along with the outsize personalities - Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly, Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, Gretchen Carlson, Bill Shine, and others - who have helped Fox News play a defining role in the great social and political controversies of the past two decades. From the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal to the Bush-Gore recount, from the war in Iraq to the Tea Party attack on the Obama presidency, Roger Ailes developed an unrivaled power to sway the national agenda. Even more, he became the indispensable figure in conservative America and the man any Republican politician with presidential aspirations had to court. 

How did this man become the master strategist of our political landscape? In revelatory detail, Sherman chronicles the rise of Ailes, a frail kid from an Ohio factory town who, through sheer willpower, the flair of a showman, fierce corporate politicking, and a profound understanding of the priorities of middle America, built the most influential television news empire of our time.

Drawing on hundreds of interviews with Fox News insiders past and present, Sherman documents Ailes’ tactical acuity as he battled the press, business rivals, and countless real and perceived enemies inside and outside Fox. Sherman takes us inside the morning meetings in which Ailes and other high-level executives strategized Fox’s presentation of the news to advance Ailes’ political agenda; provides behind-the-scenes details of Ailes’ crucial role as finder and shaper of talent, including his sometimes rocky relationships with Fox News stars such as O’Reilly, Hannity, and Carlson; and probes Ailes’ fraught partnership with his equally brash and mercurial boss, Rupert Murdoch. 

Roger Ailes’ life is a story worthy of Citizen Kane. The Loudest Voice in the Room is an extraordinary feat of reportage with a compelling human drama at its heart.  

©2014 Gabriel Sherman (P)2014 Random House Audio

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Profile Image for L. Kerr
  • L. Kerr
  • 28-01-14

A Monumental Achievement

Whether you're a righty or lefty, this book puts together the puzzle pieces of how American politics has become so polarized over the last 20 years. It will not cause anyone to switch political parties, but it will explain how we got from point A to point B.

Roger Ailes is a media genius. He was the first to figure out that Americans vote based on how they feel rather than how they think, and that TV was the best way to communicate emotion.

Ailes was never a news person ("newsie" as they are called in the TV industry). Aisles will probably be the first to admit that. He is impervious to being shamed by fact-checking because that's not his game. Making money and persuading people to his conservative politics are his goals. His ends justify his means. Any means.

The author traces Ailes's humble beginnings from Warren Ohio to the NYC media vortex. As Ailes ages, he becomes increasingly paranoid and retaliatory. The last part of the book which deals with Ailes's war with his small NY hometown newspaper and local politicians is a microcosm of his life. It's unintentionally hilarious with an almost post-modern feel. They should teach this chapter in journalism school. It reminded me of The World According to Garp, except that it really happened.

The predictable, preemptive push-back by Ailes and his supporters is vintage Aisles. Rather than undermine the book's validity, ironically it serves as corroboration because it's so Aisle-ian.

Much of the book's criticism centers on Ailes not being interviewed. But the book's last chapter explains that the author quoted 614 live sources close to Ailes, most of whom were corroborated by other sources. The author asked Ailes a dozen times to be interviewed. Ailes tried hard to block this book, so why should he add to its credibility by consenting to being interviewed? This is also classic Ailes.

Regardless of your politics, you need to read or listen to this book to fully understand the most important American politician since Reagan. I seldom re-read or re-listen to a book, but I'm doing that now.

21 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • Diane
  • 24-03-14

Needs better editing

I was disappointed in this book (and too bored to finish it). Like him or not, Roger Ailes is a fascinating character. This book, however, was too inclusive of every detail of Ailes career to hold my attention. The relevant bits are diluted in a vast dump of information, which is too bad because this is an important and interesting subject.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • loix
  • 14-02-14

Whoa! Really? Yikes.

Had it not been for the author's assurances that the content of this book has been fully vetted by him and two fact-checkers, I would have thought this pretty outrageous and nauseating fiction. But I fully understand that when the subject refuses to agree to an interview unless his demands for censorship are met, the author has little choice but to go with second-hand accounts. And the picture is far from pretty. Very few people that are mentioned in the book come through as decent; most [characters--that is how they struck me at least] are much more self-serving and cowardly than anybody I happen to have had the good chance to meet in my life. Their egomania, sense of entitlement, and lack of common compassion proved a little too much to handle in large doses, which partly explains why it took me nearly a month to finish a pretty straightforward account of the life of Roger Ailes.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Dennis
  • 24-01-15

Not for you if your a fan of Fox

Any additional comments?

Kind of a "hit job" on Fox and Rodger, it trys to be balanced and there is some good information, but it gets a little to trivial. If you are a Conservative or a fan of Fox and want to see what the "other side" thinks check it out. Otherwise move on.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • ivan
  • 28-01-14

Broadcasting Power

At the outset of Vladimir Putin's reign, masked government strongmen burst into the halls of the Independent Television Station (NTV is the Russian acronym) and wrestled the control of this media empire away from an oligarch fleeing to Israeli shores and into the hands of the resurging Russian state.

In a sense this was a uniquely Russian story, and yet the themes of this power play echo in the American landscape.

Media power, government collusion with that power and -yes- oligarchy (with a human face here in the USA).

A life of an individual told by his associates is a jumble of anecdotes, metaphors, gossip and flawed memories. That is what a biography always was and always will be.

Any reader who reads a biography and believes that he is getting a total portrait of a single person is an idiot.

The bigger question -the true mark of a success or failure of a biography- is whether a larger truth emerges out of a swamp of gossip and recollections. Similar to way a lotus rises out of the mud.

In this book a larger narrative does emerge and the developing picture isn't all that agreeable to the eyes of a common citizen.

News Corporation's media foot soldiers have attacked this book on account of a story it tells of Roger Ailes offering a female underling money for sex. Although Fox News made millions of dollars peddling salacious rumors about Bill Clinton and there are youtube compilations of female Fox News anchors crossing and uncrossing their legs, we are expected to believe that their corporate offices are filled with asexual boy scouts.

The sexual harassment tale sounds plausible to me; but even if it was proven to be totally false it does nothing to amend the larger narrative of the book.

Forget Roger Ailes, the main protagonist here is power in modern America. The flow of power away from the smoke-filled backrooms and into greenrooms and shiny studios.

Gabriel Sherman does -in one volume- present a narrative similar to that Robert Caro does in his unfinished biography of Lyndon Johnson. This is a study of power: its acquisition, its nature and its use.

The Loudest Voice in the Room is a good listen and I recommend it. The narration is perfect.

~ Ivan
Ivan's Shady Existence Blog

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-09-19

good background

When reading any book you should decide whether or not you think it is true. There are almost no audio books on this topic.
After reading it I have not been able to decide what I think. to news watchers like me it is worth reading. How about you?

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  • Mary-Anne Willsey
  • 12-09-19

Interesting Story of the Polarization of a Nation

I was disturbing to hear how biased and polarizing the FOX network has been .. I had always struggled with some of their reporting, this book explained a great deal of why.

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  • John Simon
  • 15-08-19

A Fox in the Fox and Pals Den

This is THE MUST READ for anyone seeking MEDIA LITERACY in the Age of Immediacy, as it shows the nascent origins of right-wing single mindedness and showcases the PR-demagoguery tactics and framework(s) utilized by the founder of Fox News.

While it doesn’t explain the channel's current place as the complacent agitprop megaphone for the United States worst actors, the hypocritical conservative elites, it does shed a light on the beginnings of this propaganda machine. And how like anything within the American Cultural Prism, it is a circular spectrum of foundation, woven thru-and-in-between the ideals of all sides... a cauldron of happenstance and history.

Moreover, people who feel they are represented by these bad actors need to sink their teeth into the perceived and vilified poison apple of conservatives, a la the truth.

By waging a class war of words the American orthodoxy, such as Roger Ailes and his minions, have been able to undermine those they are supposedly representing and trample the rural values of an America spun as "forgotten" into an entertainment paradigm for rocketing advertising revenue. However, words matter and slants that denigrate or create whataboutism(s) through lies and false equivalency inevitably lead to societal degradation and upheaval in the form of violence.

And all the while claiming it is simply entertainment, as they continue to dine out as celebrities in the “Liberal Safe-havens” they falsely diagnose as lacking in American Values.

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  • Matthew Parrish
  • 26-02-18

Excellent writing and performance

Wow. The story of Roger Ailes is fascinating and it is told so well here by Erik Singer. Highly recommended.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 31-12-16

Good Journalism, but Couldn't Get Into It

Bought this audiobook because the scandal of Ailes's resignation from Fox News caught my interest, but in the end, this wasn't my kind of book. Would still reccomend it for people interested in the media or politics.