Roger Ailes Reportedly Had a 400-Page "Opposition File" on Fox News Biographer


The former Fox News CEO sent around a 400-page memo on the author of 'The Loudest Voice in the Room' that included a "Gabriel Sherman Hit List."

In 2012, two years before journalist Gabriel Sherman published his biography about Roger Ailes, the Fox News CEO sent out a detailed memo within the news network entitled "To: Interested Parties." "Re: Gabriel Sherman."

The 400-page memo appeared to be "opposition research" about Sherman, who Ailes viewed as an enemy, according to CNNMoney. The memo, sent to CNN by two anonymous sources, included a section called the "Gabriel Sherman Hit List," a rundown of his reporting and comments on Republican leaders and Fox News personnel.

It included Sherman's address, voter registration information, property records and a note from researchers that they looked but couldn't find any criminal record for the author. The memo even had more than 40 pages of tweets by Sherman and a writeup about his wedding from The New York Times

A former Fox News reporter told CNNMoney that Ailes seemed "obsessed and paranoid" about The Loudest Voice in the Room, the book Sherman was writing at the time, and the lengthy memo seems to show how far he would go to investigate the author. 

Sherman's book about Ailes included some of his early examples of alleged sexual harassment; for example, telling an employee, "If you agree to have sex with me whenever I want, I will add an extra hundred dollars a week." 

Ailes resigned in July after a number of women came forward and claimed they'd been sexually harassed by the veteran TV executive, including former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes that preceded the additional revelations. An internal investigation into the conduct of Ailes launched in the wake of the harassment lawsuit filed by Carlson continues at Fox News. 

Sherman has followed Ailes' story this summer as well, reporting on "black ops" consultants the exec used for private investigations and "campaigns against enemies." It is unclear if these "friends of Roger's" were the ones who performed the investigation against Sherman.

In 2012, at the time of the memo, Fox News' PR department was led by Brian Lewis, who Ailes suspected of leaking information to the biographer. Lewis was out by 2013 and his second-in-command, Irena Briganti, became the head of PR just before the book was published. Briganti denied knowledge of the memo when asked by CNNMoney on Friday, and said in a statement: "The Fox News PR department was never involved in conducting or executing any opposition research against Gabe Sherman. It's been widely reported that there was a separate team not associated with PR which conducted extensive operations unbeknownst to anyone whose official job was to deal with the press."

When CNN told him about the memo, Sherman responded, "I don't take it personally. As I report in my book, Ailes was determined to control his story. This appears to be more evidence of that."

Aug. 26, 6 p.m. PT: Updated to correct Briganti's role at Fox News.