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Citizen Ailes


Lindsley had begun to confide in two of his young staffers, former Fox News interns named T.J. Haley and and Carli-Rae Panny. When Haley threatened to leave, Lindsley warned him, “Don’t quit. You don’t know what they will do to you.” At his apartment one night, Lindsley turned on Martin Scorsese’s noir thriller Shutter Island. He felt an unsettling resonance watching Teddy Daniels, the anguished U.S. marshal played by Leonardo DiCaprio, loses his moorings inside a sinister mental facility. Lindsley wanted to spring for the exit, but didn’t know how to get out.

Joe Lindsley’s awakening came at a delicate moment for Roger and Beth. Ailes had learned that New Yorker journalist Peter Boyer was interviewing locals for an article about the contretemps surrounding the PCN&R. As was his custom, Ailes expressed wariness about his intentions. But as Boyer was a serious reporter who had published an acclaimed book about CBS News in the late eighties, Roger and Beth eventually agreed to speak with him. Although Boyer wrote for a magazine that Ailes labeled a liberal rag, he had reason to trust him. Boyer was a southern gentleman and a conservative.

When Boyer showed up at the PCN&R one morning in December to interview Beth and Lindsley together, the mood in the newsroom was tense. Despite the rift emerging between Lindsley and the Ailes family, Lindsley played the good soldier in front of the journalist. But Roger was wary. He began peppering Lindsley with phone calls about the impending article. “So how’s your friend Boyer doing? What’s your friend Boyer doing today? Hey man, what’s up with Boyer?”

“I’m not talking to the guy,” Lindsley would tell him. “When he calls, I tell you he calls.” The New Yorker article hit newsstands on January 24, 2011. Headlined “Fox Among the Chickens” and written along the lines of Dr. Seuss’s The Butter Battle Book, Boyer’s story portrayed Roger and his liberal antagonists, like the Yooks and the Zooks, as destined to destroy any hope for peaceful coexistence. But unlike the Seuss book, which ends without any resolution of the conflict, by the end of Boyer’s tidy fable, mutual understanding ensued. “Many places a thousand times larger are served by only a single newspaper; Philipstown now has two, each distinctly better than what was there before,” he wrote.

Ailes was pleased with the result. “He called me the day after the story ran,” Stewart recalled, “and said he liked it and thought Boyer was really good, and Beth loved her picture.” Stewart and other townsfolk had a much dimmer view. They felt Boyer got spun.

And in the fall of 2012, Ailes hired Boyer as a Fox editor-at-large. “I have followed Peter’s work throughout his storied career,” Roger Ailes said in a statement to the press. “He’s a talented and insightful journalist who will add weight and depth to our investigative reporting.”

As Boyer was completing his article over the Christmas holiday, Lindsley finally decided to resign. He told Roger and Beth about it in early January, a couple of weeks before the article was published. He said he would keep the information confidential and stay on for several months until they found a new editor-in-chief.

Roger and Beth did not take the news well. One day, Roger called Lindsley with instructions for Haley: “Tell him not to wear a hoodie. It’s creepy.” Lindsley realized that Roger must have watched Haley leave the office on the security cameras, which were installed after a vandalism incident. Surveillance became a fact of life for the three young reporters. During their lunch breaks to Panera Bread, a more discreet location in the next town, they wondered if they were being tailed by Ailes’s security detail. They wanted to leave, but had no place to go. Aware it was a gamble, Haley decided to call Boyer for help. He agreed to meet him, Panny, and Lindsley for a beer.

“They made it clear that they were unhappy—which, frankly, quite surprised me,” Boyer later said. Boyer told them that, unfortunately, he did not have any promising leads.

Roger’s demands on Lindsley grew more controlling. One night, Lindsley got a call on his cell phone. Roger told him that the security alarms in the compound had been tripped. Roger, who was out of town and couldn’t make it to the house, told Lindsley to race up to the mountain and stop the intruders.

“What if they’re armed?”

“Doesn’t matter,” Ailes said. “Go up there!”

Lindsley arrived at the Ailes compound before the police did. Ailes stayed on the cell phone with Lindsley as he walked through the dark and empty mansion. He told Lindsley to flip on different lights to scare off any burglars. It turned out to be a false alarm.


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