Roger Ailes biography sparks an Internet shopping spree

January 25, 2013
Roger Ailes
Roger Ailes (Jim Cooper / AP)

Gabriel Sherman should be flattered. People seem to believe that the New York Magazine writer’s pending, unauthorized biography of Roger Ailes will be a big deal. Look at all the attention that’s come his way since he started working on it:

Last spring, he saw his subscription to the Putnam County News and Recorder summarily cancelled. That’s the community paper published by Elizabeth Ailes, the wife of Roger Ailes. “I don’t want to get into a financial transaction with him and his credit card,” Elizabeth Ailes explained to the Erik Wemple Blog last June regarding the subscription cutoff.

Andrea Tantaros of Fox News subsequently issued this tweet:

The “harasser” @gabrielsherman of NY Mag stoops 2 new low going after Roger Ailes’ wife. What do u expect from a Soros puppet?

Then Sherman sustained a rash of third-rate online sliming, in which he was described as a self-absorbed snob and a “pure con artist.” Among other things, of course.

About a month ago, an anonymous Fox News source told an anonymous Breitbart.com reporter, “Gabe Sherman is Jayson Blair on steroids.”

The past week has brought another set of developments. Sites like GabrielShermanBook.com, GabrielShermanBook.net, GabrielShermanFoxBook.com, RogerAilesbook.com and other Internet domains with similar formulations have been registered.

The Ailes book, which will be published later this year, is titled “The Loudest Voice in the Room: Fox News and the Making of America.” URLs that riff off that title — including LoudestVoiceinaRoom.com – also have been registered of late.

The registrations are private, meaning that outsiders cannot learn the identities of the registrant(s). Sherman won’t discuss the matter except to confirm that he registered one URL, theloudestvoiceintheroom.com, on Oct. 8 and none of the other domain names associated with his book or Roger Ailes. An inquiry is pending at Random House, the book’s publisher.

A similar domain-registration pattern has cropped up around the pending book of “Fox Mole” Joe Muto, the former Fox producer who wrote unflattering things about his then-employer on Gawker. Those posts earned Muto a book deal that made news last May. Last week, someone registered Molebookaboutfox.com, JoeMutobook.com, among others. Muto says he neither he nor his publisher registered those domains.

Whoever registered the domains appears to have a solid understanding of the terms that people use to search for books on the Internet. Someone who hears about Sherman’s Ailes biography at dinner with friends, for example, may well head home and pump “Gabriel Sherman book” into Google. That search could well yield GabrielShermanbook.com as a prominent search result. All of this makes GabrielShermanbook.com a great place to plant information that counterprograms Gabriel Sherman’s revelations about Roger Ailes.

Lawrence Wright, the author of the Scientology-documenting book “Going Clear,” knows how this marvel of info-democracy works. According to the Daily Beast, Wright bought up 30 domain names related to his book, just to head off search debunkment. Check it out — he missed one.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.
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Erik Wemple | January 25, 2013