Gawker editor: Ailes was having me tailed
Here's something you won't read in Gabriel Sherman's hotly anticipated, scoop-filled book about Roger Ailes: Gawker editor John Cook told Capital he was reliably informed that Ailes, the powerful chairman of the Fox News Channel, had him tailed in 2012.
Cook, 40, has a history of reporting aggressively on the leading cable-news network and its 73-year-old chief. In April of 2012, he published proprietary company information that was leaked to the site by the so-called "Fox Mole," later revealed to be Joe Muto, a former associate producer. Then there was Cook's 2009 ambush of Fox News "ambusher" Jesse B. Watters, and a series of 2011 reports on a Putnam County-based community newspaper owned by Ailes and his wife. One of those stories claimed that Ailes had spied on the paper's reporters.
Cook told Capital that during a private converstion with a former Fox News executive last summer, Cook was asked if he takes his kids, then aged 2 and 4 (he's since added another to the family), to Prospect Park for picnic lunches.
Cook replied that yes, he does in fact take his kids to Prospect Park during lunchtime on the weekends. But how would said Fox News insider have knowledge of this, Cook wanted to know?
Cook said that his source, whose name he did not want to appear in this article, divulged that Ailes had commissioned someone (or some people) to tail Cook, and that they had reported back to Ailes on his whereabouts. Cook said this person had first-hand knowledge of the situation and he provided related text messages to Capital documenting that this conversation took place.
Cook also said the same former Fox executive told him that Ailes had had Gawker writer Hamilton Nolan tailed as well.
"Roger Ailes is a vindictive paranoid maniac," Cook told Capital, "and I'm glad that he wasted either his own personal funds or the funds of News Corp. shareholders by sending people on a wild goose chase to watch me have fun with my family in the park." (Fox News was a part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. empire until the company was split up last summer; the network is now a part of Murdoch's 21st Century Fox.)
Reached for comment, Nolan said he was aware of the claim that he'd been tailed at Ailes' behest.
"I don't think it's acceptable to try to intimidate or blackmail journalists for political reasons," Nolan told Capital when reached for comment, "and I don't think that anybody in the respectable portions of the media should engage in that."
The story of Cook's conversation about allegedly being tailed is not entirely a secret in media circles. Capital has identified the person Cook was speaking with and left voicemails for this person.
Capital detailed Cook's claims to two Fox News representatives. They had not responded to our calls and emails by the time we published this article an hour and a half later, but we'll update if we hear back.