by STEPHEN K. BANNON
For a window into how the MSM does its dirty work, we need only look at Wednesday’s New York Times.
Yes, it’s just one example of a million, but it’s revealing. Here’s the deal: The two most important executives in cable media—perhaps the two most important executives in media, period—have an argument 18 years ago that allegedly brought out an anti-Semitic slur. Actually, there’s nothing “allegedly” about it at all, because both men say that it never happened.
Case closed, right? Wrong.
The Times reported today on an upcoming book by Gabriel Sherman, a “Bernard Schwartz Fellow” at the left-leaning, Soros-backed New America Foundation, alleging an altercation almost 20 years ago at CNBC where Roger Ailes called his rival David Zaslav an “obscene” name which included the words “little” and “Jewish.” Both men deny the incident happened, and both men informed the author of this fact well before publication.
What makes this episode extraordinary is the fact that Random House decided to go forward with publication knowing that both men denied it—and that the Times would make it the centerpiece of a story on the book two weeks before publication.
The American television industry is a Darwinian environment where success is usually measured in inches, not yards. That is, for most TV media, audiences have gotten so small that one measures “victories” in tenths of a point—as in, a 2.2 percent share is a great leap over a 2.1 percent share.
In this cauldron, two executives stand out as having forged brands that represent the “best of class” in their respective fields: David Zaslav at Discovery Communications and Roger Ailes of Fox News.
David Zaslav came to Discovery in 2007 to bring it out of its doldrums; lackluster programming and timid management meant that the company had fallen out of favor with both audiences and Wall Street. The market capitalization of Discovery at the time was $6 billion; today it is $30 billion—a 500 percent increase. Not only is Discovery a leader in reality programming, it is just beginning to roll out its brand globally. Mr. Zaslav recently signed a six-year contract extension with Discovery that will bag him an estimated $110 million in 2014, making him the most highly-paid media executive in the world.
Roger Ailes, as profiled by renowned media expert Michael Wolff in Monday’s USA Today, has led Fox to record revenues, profitability, and ratings. In the process, Ailes virtually put his two main rivals, CNN and MSNBC, out of the news business and into liberal political opinion and snark, documentaries, and even cooking shows—anything, it would seem, but news.
Most remarkable in regard to Mr. Ailes is the fact that he recently completely revamped the lineup at his already dominant cable news network with a resulting ratings surge of up to 20% in the key 25-54 advertising demographic.
What is shocking about the Random House decision is to disregard the word of these two CEOs and to publish an incident that they appear to know was a lie.
But of course, Random House had given Sherman a significant advance; Sherman knew that he had to write something juicy to try to sell a lot of books—beyond the many thousands of copies that Sherman patron George Soros is rumored to have purchased already, to pump up the sales numbers.
Still, it’s revealing that the Sherman book was delayed for nearly a year. The original publication date was February 2013, then it was moved to April, then to October and finally to January. Such serial delaying was a clear sign that something was wrong with the book: Most likely, it meant that the lawyers were poring over it, worried about being sued. And so, for example, Sherman buried Zaslav’s denial of the Ailes allegation in a footnote—in a footnote section reported by the Times to be 100 pages long! That footnote presumably covers Random House against a possible Fox lawsuit for slander or libel, but maybe the publisher hoped that reporters would focus on the accusation and not the refutation.
Which, of course, was exactly what the obedient Bill Carter of the Times chose to do. He built his story around the accusation and then only barely noted the refutation. As noted, all in a day’s dirty work for the MSM.