JONATHAN CHAIT APRIL 18, 2011
Gawker's story on Fox News president Roger Ailes has to be read to be believed. The basic story is that Ailes purchased the little newspaper of the small town in upstate New York where he planned to live. He then cleaned out its editor and hand-picked Joe Lindsley, a young editorial assistant from the Weekly Standard, to run it is a Fox News-style propaganda organ and took a strangely intense interest in its operation.
Then the story gets really weird:
Ailes confronted the three staffers and accused them of badmouthing him and Elizabeth during their lunch breaks. Small towns being what they are, Lindsley, Haley, and Panny frequently drove several miles north of the News and Recorder's Cold Spring, N.Y., office to privately have lunch in another town. When Ailes accused them, he knew which restaurant they frequented, leading the three to believe that Ailes wasn't merely bluffing and that he'd actually had them followed.
After Lindsley quit for good, things got weirder. He was driving to a deli in Cold Spring for lunch earlier this month when he noticed a black Lincoln Navigator that seemed to be following him, according to several sources familiar with the incident. Lindsley drove aimlessly for a while to make sure he was being followed, and the Navigator stayed on him. Then he got a look at the driver, who was a News Corporation security staffer that Lindsley happened to know socially. Lindsley continued on his way and later called the driver to ask if he was following him. The answer was yes, at Ailes' direction. ...
Last winter, not long before Lindsley tendered his resignation, the burglar alarm in the Ailes' Garrison estate went off while Roger and Elizabeth were away. Roger's first call after the police was to Lindsley, several sources say. Ailes asked him to rush to the home to let the police into the gate that blocking driveway, but when Lindsley arrived before the police, Ailes ordered him to enter the home in an effort to scare off the intruder. Speaking to Lindsley on his cell phone, Ailes led him around the darkened house, telling him which rooms to check and which lights to turn on to startle the burglar. It turned out to be a false alarm.
I actually think a surprisingly large number of people with prominent roles in public life are totally bonkers, not merely in their public philosophy but even in practical ways that people who agree with their ideology can recognize. Look at, I don't know, Newt Gingrich. He doesn't just have a different estimation of the efficacy of Keynesian multipliers than I do, or even merely different values than I do. He's clearly a nut. Michelle Bachmann hires chiefs of staff who agree with her ideology, but she runs through them like tissues, and they seem to come away thinking she would be a dangerous character as president. I think this holds true of every field.
I suspect, but I could never prove, that this is true on both right and left but more the former than the latter. In any case, it's not primarily a problem for liberals. There are powerful people everywhere, and a great many of them are out of their gourds.