In early March, Ailes arrived at the PCN&R office to stage an intervention of sorts and quell another staff rebellion. He met with Haley and Panny one-on-one. “I have 2,000 employees at Fox, yet this small newspaper is the cause of all my headaches,” Ailes said. “I’m sick of the drama in this office.”
The last week of March, Beth showed up on the warpath. She told Haley to stop coming in to the office and work from home, filing cover stories as usual. He did not know if he was being fired or not. She criticized Lindsley and Panny as well. It was the final push that the three needed. While Beth stepped out, Haley looked to his friends and nodded. They gathered up their things and walked out of the newsroom. Lindsley wanted to get the hell out of Cold Spring. Haley agreed to drive him to Washington, D.C., that night to see friends. As they drove out of town, they saw a dark Lexus SUV heading in the opposite direction. Beth was behind the wheel. Haley floored it and did not stop for miles.
The young journalists had reason to fear Ailes. When Panny went back to the office a few days later to offer her resignation in person, Roger and Beth screamed at her for an hour. They accused her of spreading dirt about them and asked her to sign a nondisparagement agreement that they had already prepared. Panny refused to look at the document and left. After a few days in D.C., Lindsley returned to his apartment in Cold Spring and noticed strange cars parked out front. As he drove to lunch that day, he saw a black Lincoln Navigator in his rearview mirror. He stopped his Jeep at a red light. When he saw the Lincoln swerve off the road into a construction site, he floored the gas as soon as the light turned green and headed back toward his apartment. Back in Cold Spring, Lindsley spotted the SUV on a side street and decided to turn the tables. He drove straight toward it. The Lincoln sped off. After a few blocks, his pursuer pulled over. Lindsley drove up alongside the driver and recognized him as a News Corp. security officer. Later, Lindsley called the agent and asked if he was sent to follow him. He said Ailes told him to.
Peter Johnson Jr., Ailes’s personal lawyer, sent the reporters a flurry of threatening e-mails and certified letters. They contained a nondisparagement agreement and a list of potential charges Roger and Beth were considering filing. (Haley and Panny declined to comment).
In April 2011, a few weeks after the walkout, Gawker reported a detailed account of the spying episode. Brian Lewis refused to comment for the story. “I hate everything that goes on up there,” he told people. None of the former PCN&R staffers were quoted by name in the article. But Beth blamed Lindsley.
When Ailes walked into a meeting at Fox that week, he told his executives, “Lots of stuff is out there. None of it is true.” In future meetings, Ailes did not utter Joe Lindsley’s name.
Shortly after Lindsley left, he discovered that their bylines had been erased from the PCN&R archives. On the online version of dozens of articles they had written, the author field stated simply: “Staff Reports.” The surrogate son had been expunged. Roger Ailes had set out to make Garrison conform more closely to his American ideals—but he’d recreated the culture of media conflict he’d done so much to foster in his day job.