Justice & Civil Liberties

Issues ››› Justice & Civil Liberties
  • Former Fox Host Gretchen Carlson Speaks Publicly About Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Roger Ailes

    For First Time Publicly, Carlson Details Her Treatment By Ailes And Her Former Colleagues

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson spoke publicly for the first time since she filed a sexual harassment/retaliation lawsuit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, detailing the alleged harassment and recounting her experience working at Fox.

    On July 6 reports emerged that Carlson filed a sexual harassment/retaliation lawsuit against Roger Ailes. Following the report, Carlson’s law firm claimed that an additional 10 women contacted them in reference to their  treatment at Fox, and New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman interviewed an additional six women who detailed their claims of inappropriate behavior by Ailes.

    Fox News figures have vigorously defended their boss, with Fox’s Howard Kurtz attacking Carlson’s ratings, Sean Hannity going after reporters covering the story, and Fox News reaching out to media outlets offering interviews with women who have worked with Ailes and were willing to defend him.

    In a July 12 interview with The New York Times, Carlson reiterated her claims of harassment and spoke of “between six and 10” meetings with Ailes in which she made complaints of harassment and he talked about her body:

    In the interview, Ms. Carlson said she complained of harassment as early as 2009, when Steve Doocy, then her co-host on “Fox and Friends,” pulled her arm down while on the air to “quiet” her, Ms. Carlson said.

    She said in her complaint, and repeated on Tuesday, that she had several meetings with Mr. Ailes over the years in which her complaints of harassment went nowhere, and that he said demeaning things to her himself.

    “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago, and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better,” Mr. Ailes told her, according to the lawsuit.

    Likewise, according to the suit, Mr. Ailes labeled her a “man hater,” and instructed her to “learn to ‘get along with the boys.’”

    That sort of language from Mr. Ailes, she said on Tuesday, was “continuous,” adding that she had “between six and 10” meetings with him in which he talked about her body and heard her complaints of harassment.

    When asked if there was ever a problem within the Fox News Culture, She said: “Everyone knew how powerful Roger Ailes was. I certainly felt intimidated by that.”

    She added, “The culture of ‘Fox and Friends’ was intimidating to me.”

  • Right-Wing Media Attack Obama’s Eulogy For Fallen Dallas Police Officers As A “Middle Finger To Cops”

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Appearing alongside former president George W. Bush in Dallas, Texas, President Obama eulogized police officers targeted in a “hate crime” last week during a Black Lives Matter march. Right-wing media figures immediately lashed out, calling Obama’s speech “bullshit,” labeled Obama the “divider-in-chief,” and claimed his statements “gave a middle finger to the cops.”

  • Meet Harry Houck, CNN’s Resident Race-Baiter And Police Brutality Apologist

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA

    CNN contributor Harry Houck -- who recently claimed that black people are prone to criminality -- has a long history of extreme race-baiting on the network, frequently blaming victims of police brutality and describing Black Lives Matter as a “thug group.”

    During the July 11 edition of CNN’s New Day, Houck -- a retired NYPD detective who works as a “law enforcement analyst” for CNN -- responded to concerns about the over-policing of black communities by suggesting that African-Americans commit crimes at higher rates than whites. When guest Marc Lamont Hill pointed out that Houck was suggesting black people are “prone to criminality,” Houck responded, “Well, they are!”:

    CNN frequently hosts Houck in the wake of high profile stories of police brutality and anti-black violence. He is a reliable race-baiter and police apologist, regularly blaming black people for police mistreatment.

    He has repeatedly suggested that minorities, and specifically black people, commit more crime than white people, and that the solution to the problem of police brutality is for black people to “stop committing crimes.” He’s denied that African-Americans receive different treatment from whites in the criminal justice system, and claimed that any police officer who acts inappropriately is punished for it.

    He’s also blamed Al Sharpton for starting riots in Ferguson and called Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance “racist.”

    Houck consistently finds ways to blame black victims of violence, especially at the hands of police officers. According to Houck:

    • Sandra Bland was arrested because she was “very arrogant” and “uncooperative.”
    • A South Carolina student who was body slammed by a police officer in her classroom “had no respect for the school… probably has no respect at home or on the street.”
    • The police officers who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice acted “properly.”
    • Trayvon Martin was killed because he had a “street attitude.”

    Houck’s Twitter presence makes his race-baiting on TV look subtle by comparison. He regularly tweets about the threat posed by “black thugs,” refers to Black Lives Matter as a “thug group,” and decries what he calls “black thug privilage” (sic).

    He’s called “Black on Black murders the real problem,” tweeted a link to a white supremacist website, and claimed that the goal of the Black Lives Matter movement is to “turn criminals into victims and cops into criminals.”

    Houck also peddles bizarre conspiracy theories. In one tweet, Houck claimed that Saul Alinsky has recruited Hillary Clinton to help promote “racism in every aspect of society” -- including releasing violent criminals from prison -- in order to make minorities dependent on Democrats, “the real slave masters.”

    In another, Houck claimed that Democrats “want all the refugees” because they want to “put them on welfare” so that they will “vote for liberals.”

    Houck’s inflammatory rhetoric isn’t limited to the black community. He’s called anti-Trump protesters “terrorists” and “the biggest danger we now face in this country.” He’s argued for wrapping the “remains of terrorists in pork fat so they go to hell!” And in October, he posted an image from a right-wing website that read “THIS IS AMERICA… WE SPEAK ENGLISH… IF YOU DONT LIKE IT TOUGH SHIT.”

    In July, 2015, the group ColorOfChange launched a petition asking CNN to “Drop Harry Houck,” writing:

    Harry Houck has a long record of victim blaming young Black people like Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and now this young Black girl at Spring Valley High School, all while blindly supporting their assailants. It is well passed time CNN dropped Harry Houck from their broadcasts and replace Harry Houck with someone capable of discussing the state of racism and prejudiced policing.

    Despite his rhetoric, CNN continues to pay Houck as an expert, bringing his race-baiting to a national audience any time a story of over-policing or police brutality makes headlines.

    Marlee Pittman contributed research to this post. Image by Sarah Wasko.

  • NRA’s Ted Nugent Smears Philando Castile And Says Obama Wants To Start A Race War

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent reacted to the police shooting of Philando Castile and the mass shooting targeting police officers in Dallas, TX, by claiming President Obama wants to start a race war and by smearing Castile with an unsubstantiated report that he may have carried out an armed robbery.

    Nugent made the claims during a series of Facebook posts on July 9. Reacting to the July 7 mass shooting in Dallas, TX, where a gunman reportedly angered by recent police shootings of African-Americans opened fire during a peaceful protest, killing five police officers and wounding seven more, Nugent claimed Obama wants to start a race war.

    Nugent wrote Obama “wants a racewar (sic)” and that he “will go down in history as a maniac America hating freak with his fundemental (sic) transformation scam.”

    An hour later Nugent “liked” a comment predicting a race war, and added his own commentary, “yeah no shit. blacks slaughtering blacks at an unprecedented rate. Blacks killed more blacks this week than the KKK has in 50yrs. braindead goofballs”:

    Nugent also reacted to the July 6 fatal shooting of black motorist Philando Castile in St. Anthony, MN. Castile had a permit to carry a concealed gun and reportedly may have been trying to explain that fact to the officer who shot him. Following the shooting, the NRA was criticized for failing to comment on the shooting of a law-abiding gun owner.

    In the aftermath of the shooting, it was reported that the officer who shot Castile believed that he matched the description of an armed robbery suspect, according to the officer’s attorney. There is, however, no evidence that Castile was involved in the armed robbery in question.

    But Conservative Treehouse, a blog that played a key role in smearing Trayvon Martin, a Florida teenager shot and killed while out walking in his neighborhood, published an article on July 8 suggesting Castile was connected to a July 2 robbery at a convenience store.

    In response to a commenter asking “why has the NRA not commented on Philando” given that Castile “was doing what any law abiding (sic) gun owners would do,” Nugent wrote, “not really” and shared the Conservative Treehouse article:

    Snopes has debunked the Conservative Treehouse article, concluding, “The Conservative Treehouse article employed a series of half-truths, misleading claims, and unsupported speculation in an attempt to justify the fatal force used by an officer during a traffic stop in Minnesota. No real evidence has yet come to light supporting the notion that Castile had been involved in an armed robbery or was carrying a firearm illegally when he was killed.”

    (The NRA had actually commented on the Castile shooting at the time of Nugent’s comment. The gun group issued a “tepid” statement on July 8 that failed to mention Castile’s name.)

    In a subsequent comment on the same thread where he smeared Castile, Nugent wrote that it was time to “oust” President Obama:

    UPDATE: 

    Nugent made a subsequent Facebook post that appears to allude to the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of Castile. The implication of Nugent's advice is that he believes Castile did not have "enuf brainmatter (sic)" to avoid being shot:

  • An Additional Six Women Detail Alleged Sexual Harassment By Fox News Chief Roger Ailes

    Blog ››› ››› BEN DIMIERO

    Roger Ailes biographer and New York magazine writer Gabriel Sherman is reporting statements from six more women detailing alleged sexual harassment by Ailes.

    Earlier this week, former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit in civil court in New Jersey accusing Ailes of repeatedly sexually harassing her, dismissing her complaints about sexism from colleagues, and firing her after she rejected his sexual advances. The Fox News CEO has a long reported history of sexism and harassment, both during and before his time at the network, much of which is detailed in Sherman’s 2014 book, The Loudest Voice in the Room.

    Fox News has largely downplayed (and mostly ignored) Carlson’s suit, and Ailes released a statement dismissing the allegations as “false” and “offensive.”

    In a July 9 article at New York, Sherman prints statements from six more women accusing Ailes of harassment. According to Sherman, “more than a dozen women have contacted Carlson’s New Jersey-based attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, and made detailed allegations of sexual harassment by Ailes over a 25-year period dating back to the 1960s when he was a producer on The Mike Douglas Show.” Sherman spoke to two women on the record and an additional four who “requested anonymity for reasons that include shame and fear of retribution.”

    The stories include one from former Republican National Committee field adviser Kellie Boyle, who says Ailes solicited sexual favors after meeting her for dinner in 1989 when she was in Washington, DC, to “sign a major contract with the National Republican Congressional Committee.” Ailes allegedly told her, “You know if you want to play with the big boys, you have to lay with the big boys.” She continues:

    I was so taken aback. I said, ‘Gosh I didn’t know that. How would that work?’ I was trying to kill time because I didn’t know if he was going to attack me. I was just talking until I could get out of the car. He said, ‘That’s the way it works,’ and he started naming other women he’s had. He said that’s how all these men in media and politics work — everyone’s got their friend. I said, ‘Would I have to be friends with anybody else?’ And he said, ‘Well you might have to give a blowjob every once in a while.’ I told him I was going to have to think about this. He said, ‘No, if you don’t do it now, you know that means you won’t.’ The next morning I show up to get my assignment and was told the guy I was supposed to be meeting with was unavailable. Back in New Jersey I got a call from Roger Ailes. He said, ‘How’d your meeting go?’ I said, ‘Actually he wasn’t available and I’m hoping to hear back from him.’ He said, ‘Ah, well, I’m sure you will. Have you changed your mind yet?’ I said, ‘I’ll have to pass, Roger. I’m married and really committed to my husband. No offense.’ He said, ‘Well, we’ll be in touch.’ And that was that. A couple weeks later, I called a friend who was very high up in the RNC and I asked him what happened. He said, ‘Word went out you weren’t to be hired.’

    Another woman claims that when she was 16 and went for a walk-on part on The Mike Douglas Show in 1967, Ailes locked her in his office and “proceeded to pull down his pants and very gingerly pull out his genitals and said, ‘Kiss them.’” He then allegedly chased her around the room before getting angry and giving up, and finally “rushed over to his desk, pulled open a door and had a reel-to-reel tape recorder going. He said to me, ‘Don’t tell anybody about this. I’ve got it all on tape.’ I think he knew I was sixteen.”

    You can read the full statements from the six women at New York.

    On Friday, Ailes’ lawyers filed a motion “arguing that the sexual harassment lawsuit … should be moved from a New Jersey Superior Court into federal court and submitted for arbitration,” claiming the suit was a breach of Carlson’s contract. According to The New York Times, “Ms. Carlson’s lawyers said Mr. Ailes was trying to force the case into a secret proceeding, and away from the public spotlight of a trial.”