December 9, 2013

Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch in 1996, at a press conference announcing the creation of Fox News. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)

Brian Lewis, a former public-relations official for Fox News, has received a payout of approximately $8 million to secure his silence following a spat with Fox News chief Roger Ailes, according to a fresh report from Gawker. The report supplements a New York Times piece of last week alleging that Lewis had reached a settlement with the network. Lewis clashed with the Fox News brain trust over how to handle the upcoming book on Fox News by reporter Gabriel Sherman.

It’s tempting to dismiss the dollar figure cited by Gawker. After all, it hinges on a single anonymous source. Then again, the New York Times story adheres to that same standard.

A journalistic rule of thumb maintains that you need multiple anonymous sources — three, maybe two — to support publication of secrets such as these. Fox News appears to be carving out an exception of sorts to this rule. Corralling a single whispering executive at Fox News is tantamount to corralling several whispering executives at just about any other news outlet. So go ahead and single-source it!

On the other hand, be extremely careful.

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