The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • A new biography of Fox News Channel President Roger Ailes presents him as ambitious and combative (though brilliant), and claims that he used an anti-Semitic remark about a rival in 1995 and made comments critical of Fox hosts such as Bill O'Reilly, whom he allegedly called "a book salesman with a TV show," The New York Times reports. The newspaper obtained an advance copy of The Loudest Voice in the Room, by New York Magazine contributing editor Gabriel Sherman, which is due out Jan. 21. According to the Times, "Former employees cited in the book talked of Mr. Ailes's volatile temper and domineering behavior. In one anecdote, a television producer, Randi Harrison, told Mr. Sherman that while negotiating her salary with Mr. Ailes at NBC in the 1980s, he offered her an additional $100 each week 'if you agree to have sex with me whenever I want.' " The Times reports that a Fox News spokesperson responded Tuesday, saying, "These charges are false. While we have not read the book, the only reality here is that Gabe was not provided any direct access to Roger Ailes and the book was never fact-checked with Fox News."
  • In a new memoir, former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates claims that President Obama was frustrated with military leadership in Afghanistan and that Vice President Joe Biden "has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades," The New York Times and The Washington Post reported yesterday. NPR's Scott Neuman writes, "The newspapers obtained copies of Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, scheduled for release Jan. 14 under the Knopf imprint. In it, Gates — who has served every U.S. president since Nixon, with the exception of Bill Clinton, and was widely seen as an even-tempered team player — acknowledges that under the surface he was frequently "seething" and "running out of patience on multiple fronts" during his time in the Obama White House." In a statement given to journalists, National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden responded, "As has always been the case, the President welcomes differences of view among his national security team, which broaden his options and enhance our policies. The President wishes Secretary Gates well as he recovers from his recent injury, and discusses his book." She added, "The President disagrees with Secretary Gates' assessment — from his leadership on the Balkans in the Senate, to his efforts to end the war in Iraq, Joe Biden has been one of the leading statesmen of his time, and has helped advance America's leadership in the world. President Obama relies on his good counsel every day."
  • Rolling Stone writer Will Hermes will write a biography of the late musician Lou Reed for Farrar, Straus and Giroux, The New York Times writes. Hermes told the paper that New York City would "figure prominently," in the biography "because how could it not? Reed loved the city deeply, based his adult life here, rooted much of his work here and was a huge figure in our cultural life. I think we have yet to fully measure the loss. He was one of the greatest artists of our generation." Reed died in October at age 71.
  • History of Love author Nicole Krauss has a new short story in The New Republic: "The sea is different in the dark, more vast and alive, filled with intelligence. When I get to the rock jetty behind the old shuttered discotheque, I see a group of men casting their fishing lines off the end into the black water. I watch for a while, but nothing comes of it."
  • The Morning News' annual Tournament of Books, the contest that pits last year's books against one another with March Madness-style brackets, announced its 17 contenders yesterday. The list ranges from Donna Tartt's blockbuster The Goldfinch to Hanya Yanagihara's elegant but underappreciated novel The People in the Trees. The judges were also announced yesterday, and include authors John Green and Geraldine Brooks, critics John Freeman and Lydia Kiesling, and John Darnielle, the lead singer of the band The Mountain Goats. A pre-tournament playoff round will set the novels Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel against each other to determine the final 16 players.
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