CNN Guest: “Roger Ailes Did Not Build A TV Network. He Built A Cult Of Personality.”

CNN Guest: “Roger Ailes Did Not Build A TV Network. He Built A Cult Of Personality.”

One of the biggest thorns in Roger Ailes’s side these past few years has been New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman. He has devoted much of his career to detailing the inner workings of Fox News and way Ailes ran the network. Over the past several weeks, Sherman has reported on former Fox host Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes and Rupert Murdoch deciding he had to go after investigators discovered more allegations.

Appearing on CNN’s Reliable Sources, Sherman discussed Ailes’s departure as chief of the network while noting the immense influence he held over Republican politics. He described Fox News as a cult, telling host Brian Stelter that it is similar to Scientology.

From the show’s transcript:


STELTER: Is it true that, until yesterday, you hadn’t spoken to the head of FOX News P.R. for like four or five years, that she would never return your calls, but now that Ailes is out, and she’s working for the Murdochs, now you all are talking?

I mean, that’s an early sign of the culture of FOX changing, isn’t it?

SHERMAN: Yes, clearly.

I was very surprised to get a call back from Irena Briganti, FOX News’ spokesperson, who was determined never to return my call. It was corporate policy not to talk to me.

You know, really, what it shows me is that Roger Ailes did not build a TV network. He built a cult of personality. I mean, I like to joke, but it’s not — it’s true — FOX News is basically Scientology if L. Ron Hubbard was running MGM, an old movie studio. And that’s really what it was, what Roger…


Later on in the program, Sherman noted that Fox News was really just Roger Ailes’s platform in which to broadcast his personal views. And that he had convinced a large portion of the American public that he was really just presenting a Fair & Balanced news channel.


STELTER: Well, maybe the issue is, is — yes — that FOX makes it hard maybe to describe FOX.

For years, you would get a call from a P.R. person at FOX if you dared to describe them as a conservative cable news channel. They would deny that.

SHERMAN: Well, unfortunately…


STELTER: And I would argue that’s denying reality.


STELTER: But that’s an example for us of how difficult it was to cover Ailes at FOX.


And, really, Brian, I just think, for a lot of time, the American people and political, both on the left and the right, were in denial about who Roger Ailes is and what FOX News is.

I mean, I like to say, Scientology is a cult, but they don’t have any political influence. Roger Ailes built a cult that had a front-row seat in the White House Briefing Room. This was a not a news channel. This was his personal megaphone to advance his own personal right-wing agenda.

And that is just the truth. And it’s going to take a long time — and it’s starting to happen now. The events of the last week, we’re starting to see that people are accepting that this was really something that was shocking.

It’s going to take a long time for the culture to acknowledge that Roger Ailes was allowed to have so much influence to wage his own personal agenda on the American political landscape.


Meanwhile, Donald Trump has refused to comment on whether or not Ailes is now advising his presidential campaign. However, he did call the former Fox chief a longtime friend and that it’s very sad that these women are complaining about him, stating they should feel bad because Ailes helped them. 


Image via Media Matters

Justin Baragona

Justin Baragona

Justin Baragona is the founder/publisher of Contemptor and a contributor to The Daily Beast. He was previously the Cable News Correspondent for Mediaite and prior to starting Contemptor, he worked on the editorial staff of PoliticusUSA. During that time, he had his work quoted by USA Today and BBC News, among others. Justin began his published career as a political writer for 411Mania. He resides in St. Louis, MO with his wife and pets.