Sunday Late Night: Did Roger Ailes Wiretap in the US?
Now that the head of Rupert Murdoch’s British tabloid and the head of his American business daily flagship have both resigned, with the titian-haired one under arrest in Britain, is it time to look at the man GHWBush calls “our man Ailes” and his techniques that FOX News Channel may have used to make the news?
The Nation wonders: what goes on in Roger Ailes’ Brain Room?
Dan Cooper was one of the people who helped create the Fox News channel with Roger Ailes, and was fired in 1996. In 2008, Cooper wrote on his website that David Brock (now head of Media Matters) had used him as an anonymous, on-background-only source for an Ailes profile he was writing for New York magazine. Before the piece was published, on November 17, 1997, Cooper claims that his talent agent, Richard Leibner, told him he had received a call from Ailes, who identified Cooper as a source, and insisted that Leibner drop him as a client–or any client reels Leibner sent Fox would pile up in a corner and gather dust. Cooper continued:
“I made the connections. Ailes knew I had given Brock the interview. Certainly Brock didn’t tell him. Of course. Fox News had gotten Brock’s telephone records from the phone company, and my phone number was on the list. Deep in the bowels of 1211 Avenue of the Americas, News Corporation’s New York headquarters, was what Roger called the Brain Room. Most people thought it was simply the research department of Fox News. But unlike virtually everybody else, because I had to design and build the Brain Room, I knew it also housed a counterintelligence and black ops office. So accessing phone records was easy pie.”
Personally, I would imagine a glimpse into the Brain Room at FOX News would simply reveal a bunch of kindergarten cubbyholes where Gretchen Carlson, Sean Hannity, Steve Doocy, the Other Guy Who’s Not Steve Doocy, and Chris Wallace stash their brains before going upstairs to make-up.
According to Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone, it might be something even more sinister:
“Ailes created an in-house research unit–-known at Fox News as the ‘brain room’–-that requires special security clearance to gain access. ‘The brain room is where Willie Horton comes from,’ says Cooper, who helped design its specs. `It’s where the evil resides.’?”
“If that sounds paranoid,” Dickinson adds, “consider the man Ailes brought in to run the brain room: Scott Ehrlich.” Ehrlich “had taken over the lead on Big Tobacco’s campaign to crush health care reform when Ailes signed on with CNBC.”
Today, Cooper stands by his story. “I believe exactly what I wrote. The only alternative is that David Brock told Ailes well before publication that he spoke with me,” he e-mailed me. “The story is true.” Brock has declined to comment.
Only one question remains: are American law enforcement officials and legislators as afraid of Rupert Murdoch as the Brits’ guardians of the public trust seem to have been for years? Between Byron Williams, George Tiller, and Van Jones, isn’t there now reason to look into the Brain Room and see what’s been concocted there? Will someone please accelerate their investigation, if only to shut down the likely full-time document shredding happening in the Brain Room right this very minute?