The Cable Gamer is trying to decipher what’s behind Gabriel Sherman’s latest grab-bag of imaginary sources and conspiracy theories. Some of it even contradicts Sherman’s own “reporting.” He goes on for paragraphs describing how Fox has fallen into line behind Donald Trump (painting Trump a victor is a common thread in most Shermanesque tales). There are “revelations” of secret phone calls and negotiations in order to seal the deal. But it was just last month that Sherman had a juicier explanation: Trump had secret dirt about Fox News that effectively blackmailed the news channel into backing him. Sherman ran that one up the flagpole in April but few outside his circle saluted. So now it’s forgotten. Inoperative.
Mr. Sherman also wants you to believe Fox anchors secretly speak to him:
A Fox anchor told me that the message from Roger Ailes’s executives is they need to go easy on Trump. “It’s, ‘Make sure we don’t go after Trump,’” the anchor said. “We’ve thrown in the towel.”
Really? Nobody is allowed to air negative Trump news? Plotting like this would be ludicrous in the most surreal sitcom. Presenting it as fact is preposterous, unbelievable and utterly disconnected to the way news organizations work—not to mention a smear of every anchor on Fox News. And is easily debunked by a plethora of examples.
But Sherman’s biggest target is Megyn Kelly. You may recall how quickly he advanced the notion that Fox went too far defending her against Trump’s insults. And now, since she stands as a visible refutation of his latest conspiratorial twist, Mr. Sherman strips from her the achievement that placed her on the media map:
In fact, according to one high-level Fox source, it was Murdoch himself who directed Kelly to hammer Trump during the debut GOP debate, in Cleveland, that sparked the feud in the first place. “Rupert told her to do that,” the source said.
See? She was just following orders. But doesn’t this mean Gabriel Sherman is calling Megyn Kelly a liar? Because her version is considerably different:
Fox News research assistants put together massive binders on the candidates, on everything they’d ever said on every topic. As she read Trump’s, a couple of themes began to emerge. The one that hadn’t been explored was his sexism. Knowing that if Hillary were to be the nominee she’d hit him with that issue, Kelly had her first question. “I wrote it. I researched each line item myself. It was interesting to me after the debate when people started fact-checking my question. My own reaction was ‘Bring it on.’ You think I’d go out there and ask a question like that at the first G.O.P. debate without making sure I was bulletproof on every single word?” She drafted and re-drafted it, and showed it to her fellow moderators, Chris Wallace and Bret Baier, whose initial reaction, Baier recalls, was “Wow, let’s think about this … there clearly was going to be pushback.”
Kelly almost didn’t get a chance to ask it. The morning of the debate, while doing debate prep, she got violently ill. But, she says, “I would have crawled over a pile of hot coals to make it to that debate. No one was going to be sitting in for me, reading my questions.”
For all the hullabaloo over the questioning of Trump, it’s generally forgotten that Ms. Kelly and her colleagues didn’t single out The Donald: they were tough on the other candidates too. Which makes the notion that Murdoch had to order her to be tough on one of them even more nonsensical. Mind you, at the time Sherman was saying the tough questions to Trump were no surprise. But that, like the “secret dirt” on Fox, is now a discarded theory from yesteryear, forgotten in the light of a shiny new “scoop.”
So in Sherman’s World Megyn Kelly is reduced to an unprincipled puppet, sacrificing integrity for job security, and ultimately saying whatever her male boss tells her to say. It’s an ugly portrayal, but thoroughly Shermanesque.