Gretchen Carlson

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  • Bill O’Reilly: “I’m Not Interested In” Allegations Of Sexual Harassment At Fox Because It “Makes My Network Look Bad”

    O'Reilly: "I've Got A Kids Book That I Want Millions Of Kids To Look At. That's What I'm Interested In, Not Making My Network Look Bad."

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN

    Fox News host Bill O’Reilly lashed out when asked about fellow Fox host Megyn Kelly’s allegations in her new book that she was sexually harassed by former Fox CEO Roger Ailes, saying, “I'm not interested in making my network look bad.” O’Reilly, who himself once settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with a Fox employee, insisted that Fox is “a good place to work.”

    On the November 15 edition of CBS This Morning, O’Reilly was asked about Kelly’s book, in which she describes being sexually harassed by Ailes. O’Reilly initially responded calmly, calling Kelly smart and saying he hadn’t read the book, but he became agitated and defensive when pressed by CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell about the sexual harassment allegations. O’Reilly insisted that Fox is “a good place to work,” said that he’s “not interested in basically litigating something that is finished,” and he’s “not going to buy into let’s use the Fox News Channel as a piñata.” From CBS This Morning:

    BILL O'REILLY: I want to be very candid here, I'm not that interested in this.

    GAYLE KING (CO-HOST): No?

    O'REILLY: No, I mean, it’s over for me.

    NORAH O’DONNELL (CO-HOST): In sexual harassment? You’re not interested in sexual harassment?

    ​O'REILLY: I’m not interested in basically litigating something that is finished, that makes my network look bad. OK? I'm not interested in making my network look bad. At all. That doesn't interest me one bit.

    O'DONNELL: Is that what she's doing?

    ​O'REILLY: I don’t know, but I’m not going to even bother with it. I've got a country that's in a transition, political transition. All right? I've got a kids book that I want millions of kids to look at. That's what I'm interested in, not making my network look bad.

    ​[...]

    O’REILLY: Look, it's open season, let's whack the Fox News Channel. I've had enough of it. It's a good place to work, all right? We do good work. We do honest work there. So, I'm not going to buy into let’s use the Fox News Channel as a piñata. I don’t think it’s right.

    O’Reilly was one of many Fox personalities who defended Ailes in the wake of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former host Gretchen Carlson in July, saying in an interview, “I stand behind Roger 100 percent,” and calling Carlson’s lawsuit “frivolous.” After Ailes resigned amid building public pressure, O’Reilly falsely claimed that he hadn’t commented on the sexual harassment claims against Ailes.

    Since Ailes’ resignation, it has become clear that sexual harassment is an institutional problem at the network. Kelly was one of over two dozen women who came forward after Carlson filed her lawsuit alleging that they had been harassed by Ailes. Former host Andrea Tantaros also filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, naming not only Ailes, but several high-level executives and the Fox News Channel as defendants. Tantaros claimed that her “tenure at Fox News devolved into a nightmare of sexual harassment by Ailes, Fox News’s then-President, and others, followed by retaliation by Ailes and others despite multiple ongoing complaints by Tantaros.” One of the Fox executives named as a defendant in Tantaros’ suit was Bill Shine, who, according to the lawsuit, responded to Tantaros’ complaint that she was being harassed by telling her “that Ailes was a ‘very powerful man’ and that Tantaros ‘needed to let this one go.’” Shine was promoted to co-president of Fox News after Ailes’ resignation.

    The New York Times reported in July that Fox News has “a broader problem in the workplace” that went beyond Ailes. According to the Times, about a dozen women “said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment or intimidation at Fox News or the Fox Business Network, and half a dozen more who said they had witnessed it. Two of them cited Mr. Ailes and the rest cited other supervisors.”

    O’Reilly himself settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by then-Fox producer Andrea Mackris in 2004, which alleged that O’Reilly made “a series of explicit phone calls to her, advised her to use a vibrator and told her about sexual fantasies involving her.” O’Reilly reportedly settled the lawsuit for “anywhere from $2 million to $10 million.” O'Reilly was also named in Tantaros' suit, though he was not listed as a defendant. She alleged that he sexually harassed her by "asking her to come to stay with him on Long Island where it would be 'very private,'" and by "telling her on more than one occasion that he could 'see [her] as a wild girl,' and that he believed that she had a 'wild side.'”

  • Will Fox News Let Megyn Kelly Discuss Her Allegations Against Roger Ailes On-Air?

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    While promoting the release of her upcoming memoir on her Fox News show, Megyn Kelly has remained silent on her reported allegations in the book that she was sexually harassed and assaulted by network founder and former CEO Roger Ailes. This raises questions about whether the network will allow Kelly to discuss these allegations on their airwaves.

    During the November 3 edition of her Fox News show, Kelly noted a last-minute revision she made to her forthcoming autobiography, Settle For More, about former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who is currently under investigation for an alleged inappropriate relationship with an underage girl. She also highlighted the “many contentious exchanges” with Weiner throughout her time as a Fox News host.

    But Kelly did not mention the news that broke earlier that day about the book: Kelly reportedly reveals “explosive new charges against the network’s founder, Roger Ailes." In her book, Kelly claims Ailes “tried to sexually assault her in his New York office and hinted she would be fired when she ‘pushed him away’” according to Radar Online, which received an advance copy. Kelly claims she “was approached several times, and several times I refused,” and Ailes’ harassment didn’t stop until she reported him to her supervisor:

    Kelly claims in the book that he started to harass her, too, in the summer of 2005, a few months after she was hired as a legal correspondent in Fox’s Washington bureau.

    She writes that she was informed by her managing editor that she’d “captured the attention of Mr. Ailes” and she was summoned to the first of a series of meetings in his Manhattan office.

    “Roger began pushing the limits,” she alleges. “There was a pattern to his behavior. I would be called into Roger’s office, he would shut the door, and over the next hour or two, he would engage in a kind of cat-and-mouse game with me — veering between obviously inappropriate sexually charged comments (e.g. about the ‘very sexy bras’ I must have and how he’d like to see me in them) and legitimate professional advice.”

    He offered to advance her career “in exchange for sexual favors,” she writes, and even though she says she rejected “every single one,” she claims he tried “physical advances.”

    But in January 2006, she claims, he “crossed a new line — trying to grab me repeatedly and kiss me on the lips.” When she shoved him away, she alleges, “he asked me an ominous question: ‘When is your contract up?’ And then, for the third time, he tried to kiss me.”

    The Wall Street Journal, Fox News' corporate cousin, confirmed Radar Online's report. 

    Roger Ailes, the former chairman and CEO of Fox News, resigned his position at Fox following allegations from multiple women of sexual harassment and assault by the executive. Former host Gretchen Carlson first accused Ailes of “sexual harassment/retaliation” in a lawsuit after being abruptly fired by the network. Dozens of women have since accused Ailes of similar harassment, including Kelly. While these claims have been widely reported by the media, Fox has remained mostly silent about the reports of harassment on their airwaves, which speaks to the culture of sexism and misogyny at the network.

  • Reminder To The Media: Trump Is The Worst Possible Messenger On The Clintons’ Marriage

    ››› ››› CAT DUFFY

    Media should report on the immense hypocrisy of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump levying attacks on former President Bill Clinton’s history with women and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s responses to those women.Trump and several of his closest advisers have long histories of engaging in infidelity, workplace sexual harassment, and misogynistic behavior. Trump himself has also called Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky “totally unimportant,” and, The Washington Post reported, he “repeatedly dismissed and at times mocked” the women who have accused Bill Clinton.  

  • Roger Ailes Conspicuously Absent From Fox News' 20th Anniversary Celebration

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Fox News Channel, which launched on October 7, 1996, celebrated its 20th anniversary Friday and mentioned the occasion on at least seven different news shows throughout the day. The anniversary tributes included a video featuring two top executives, but notably neglected to mention Fox News founder Roger Ailes.

    The former Fox executive was recently ousted from the network due to multiple claims of sexual harassment from female colleagues and subordinates over many years. Ailes is currently advising Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, whose candidacy is now in crisis over a 2005 recording of the nominee boasting about sexual assault that was coincidentally released by The Washington Post on Fox News’ anniversary date.

    Because the disturbing testimonies from former Fox hosts Gretchen Carlson and Andrea Tantaros, and various other women at the network, about their horrific experiences with Ailes were met with criticism by many who work there, it is not a surprise that Fox would whitewash the channel’s history. For example, prime-time host Bill O’Reilly, who is known for providing cover for Ailes, notably ignored the founder’s principal role in building the outlet. From the October 7 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:

    This obvious channel-wide omittance did not go unnoticed in the media. The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple reported that the website commemorating Fox News’ 20th anniversary featured top Fox executives Lachlan Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch but failed to mention the channel’s founder Roger Ailes. From the October 7 report (emphasis original):

    This took some doing: 21st Century Fox is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Fox News without even mentioning the founder of Fox News, Roger Ailes. The tribute appears on the website of 21st Century Fox, the cable news network’s parent company, and includes a brief video in which Lachlan Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch, top executives of the company, look back on the world-beating organization that Ailes launched in 1996.

    “Fox News came from a point of view of we can do this better,” says Lachlan Murdoch, the company’s executive chairman, in a video. “We can make news more interesting. We can tell stories better. We can tell them with more energy and more color.” Rupert Murdoch notes that he was “very lucky in the people I found. Now it’s … probably our single-biggest profit-maker as an individual channel.”

    Bolding added to highlight what has to be a reference to Ailes, the now-76-year-old Republican strategist-turned-television executive who drove Fox News programming decisions with resourcefulness, ruthlessness and shamelessness.

    Despite Fox’s best efforts to hush the news around Ailes’ misconduct, the outlet’s own history of hate, misogyny, and smears speaks volumes about its forgotten creator.

  • Media Take Note: Trump Is The Worst Possible Messenger On The Clintons’ Marriage

    ››› ››› CAT DUFFY

    When media report on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s latest attacks on former President Bill Clinton’s history with women and Hillary Clinton’s responses to those women, they should also mention the immense hypocrisy of Trump levying those claims. Trump and several of his closest advisers have long histories of infidelity, workplace sexual harassment, and misogyny. And Trump himself previously said both that Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky was “totally unimportant” and that people would have been more “forgiving” if Clinton had a relationship “with a really beautiful woman.”

  • Fox Business Spends Mere Seconds Reporting On Gretchen Carlson’s Settlement

    CNBC Devoted Significant Resources To The Story, While Bloomberg And Fox Relegated It To Quick Headlines

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Fox Business devoted a mere 16 seconds of airtime to the eight-figured settlement reached by 21st Century Fox and former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson after she filed a lawsuit against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment and retaliation. Bloomberg and CNBC spent marginally more time on the news, even though Bloomberg relegated the story to quick headlines.

    21st Century Fox announced September 6 that it had reached a $20 million settlement deal with Carlson, who sued Ailes for sexual harassment in July. Fox also released a public apology saying, “We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect that she and all our colleagues deserve." CNN reported that the company “also completed settlement deals with a ‘handful’ of other women who accused Ailes of harassing behavior.”

    In the 24 hours after the settlement was announced, Fox Business covered it only once, in a 16-second statement from host Charles Payne. Bloomberg News devoted six segments to the settlement, but they were all short headlines that lasted less than 30 seconds each.

    CNBC was the only business news network to devote substantial coverage to the story, spending 12 minutes and 21 seconds discussing the settlement across six segments. CNBC’s segments also included more substantial coverage of the allegations of sexual harassment at Fox News. In an interview on the September 6 edition of Squawk Alley, Vanity Fair contributing editor Sarah Ellison, who broke the story of the settlement, discussed the “waterfall effect” of women coming forward and speaking up about being sexually harassed at Fox. CNBC reporter Julia Boorstin noted of the settlement that “though there were talks about Ailes covering some of that payment, he is not going to be making any contribution ... despite the fact that Ailes reportedly walked away from Fox with twice what Carlson is being paid, $40 million.”

    Fox News was also hesitant to cover the story when Carlson filed the lawsuit in July, and when the network did report on the issue, it leaned heavily on Ailes’ prepared statement. The network’s first report on the lawsuit came a day after it was filed, and it was almost entirely a recitation of Ailes’ statement. In a piece on FoxNews.com after news of the lawsuit broke, Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz carried water for Ailes by citing his denial before even establishing the facts about the allegations he was denying.

  • Fox Is Replacing Greta Van Susteren With Ailes-Defender And Sexual Assault Denier Brit Hume

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA KITTEL

    Brit Hume, the Fox News analyst replacing former host Greta Van Susteren, has a long history of downplaying sexual assault and was a fierce defender of former Fox CEO Roger Ailes from the sexual assault allegations leveled by dozens of women, including several of Hume’s Fox colleagues.

    Fox media critic Howard Kurtz reported September 6 that network anchor Van Susteren is leaving Fox News after 14 years and will be replaced by senior political analyst Hume. Kurtz noted that “this would be among the major programming decisions made by [head of Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox] Rupert Murdoch since the network’s owner stepped in as acting CEO of Fox News after Ailes’ resignation.” New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that “a source close to Van Susteren … [said she] left because ‘she is troubled by the culture’ Ailes built.”

    Ailes was forced to resign from Fox in July after dozens of women accused him of sexual harassment. Former network anchor Gretchen Carlson and host Andrea Tantaros have both filed lawsuits alleging sexual harassment against Ailes and claiming they were taken off air as retaliation. Network anchor Megyn Kelly also reportedly told lawyers she was sexually harassed by Ailes. Ailes is still working as a consultant to Rupert Murdoch during a “transition period” for the network. Numerous media figures have reported that the culture of sexual harassment at Fox News goes way beyond Roger Ailes and that several network executives, including newly promoted Fox co-president Bill Shine, knew about and covered up Ailes’ harassment.

    Hume was among Ailes’ fiercest defenders inside Fox News amid the allegations and called his resignation “heartbreaking.” Hume responded to his colleague Carlson’s allegations by victim-blaming and disparaging her character, asking why she didn’t just quit following the alleged harassment:

    Following Ailes’ resignation, Hume said he was “absolutely heartbroken that all this happened,” saying of the former Fox chief, “I love the guy, and I love working for him.”

    Hume has a long history of using his national platform to downplay sexual assault. Here are a few of his worst attempts:

    Hume: "I, Myself, Totally Dispute" Campus Sexual Assault Statistics. Hume disputed statistics pointing to an epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses, saying, “I think an almost entirely false narrative … has been constructed and perpetrated and now perpetuated, I think,  largely by the American left.”

    Hume: Blame “The Deregulation Of Sex” For Campus Sexual Assaults. Hume blamed “the deregulation of sex” for causing sexual assaults, saying that “boys will be boys,” but the “sexual revolution in the ‘60s did away with” the strict rules governing male-female interactions that used to protect women from “lusty” “guys.” He also criticized plans by lawmakers to curb assault, saying of new proposals calling for verbal consent at various stages of a sexual encounter: “It suggests that the people who are drawing up these new plans for how consent is to be given have never had any sex.”

    Hume Repeatedly Downplayed Prevalence Of Sexual Assault. Hume downplayed the prevalence of campus sexual assaults in 2014 by conflating two studies and  baselessly dismissing the veracity of the often-cited statistic that one in five "undergraduate women experience an attempted or completed sexual assault during their college years."

  • Fox Just Settled With Gretchen Carlson. Reporters Should Ask Trump About It.

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Fox News has settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former anchor Gretchen Carlson against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. Reporters have a responsibility to grill Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has criticized Carlson’s allegations and is being advised by Ailes, about the settlement.

    Carlson in July filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, triggering an investigation into her allegations. By the end of July, at least 25 other women had levied similar charges against him. Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, announced on July 21 that Ailes would resign. According to subsequent reports, Ailes has been advising Trump on campaign strategy and helping him prepare for the presidential debates.

    Fox on September 6 announced that it had reached a $20 million settlement with Carlson, with Ailes paying a portion of that settlement. A statement released by 21st Century Fox said, “We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.”

    Between Carlson’s initial filing and the settlement, Trump repeatedly dismissed and downplayed the allegations against Ailes. Trump in mid-July said the allegations were “unfounded ... totally unfounded.” Trump later told NBC, “I don’t want to comment” on the Ailes accusations, but “I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining” wrote “books that are fairly recently released and they say wonderful things about him and now all of a sudden they’re saying these horrible things about him.” Trump also told then-Fox contributor Kirsten Powers, “There was quite a bit of fabulous things said [about Ailes by Carlson],” and when she asked about the other women who made similar allegations, he said, “I didn’t know it was more than just her.” Trump also praised Ailes in July as a “very capable guy” and “a friend of mine.”

    Trump during that time also advised Ailes on how to handle the accusations. According to New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, Trump “gave Ailes advice pre-ultimatum when Carlson scandal first broke,” and Ailes and Trump reportedly “counseled each other in multiple phone calls” as Ailes was about to leave Fox.

    Now that Fox has made an “implicit acknowledgement” of Ailes’ guilt with its settlement, will media confront Trump for having Ailes as an adviser and for having tried to publicly discredit Carlson?

    UPDATE: According to multiple reporters, Ailes will not contribute to the Carlson settlement, which will be paid entirely by 21st Century Fox.

  • Confirmed: Fox News’ Sexual Harassment Investigation Was Just A PR Offensive

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Vanity Fair reported that the internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, launched after former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Ailes, has concluded with a $20 million settlement and a public apology, but without examining “the broader culture of Fox News.” This “relatively swift closure to an ugly chapter,” as Vanity Fair put it, shows that the probe was little more than a pseudo-investigation. The magazine noted that in some ways, it "simply got a revenue machine back on track." And that confirms previous concerns about the impartiality of the investigation, which was handled by Fox News’ parent company.

    After Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit on July 6 against then-Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, Fox’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, retained the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to lead an internal investigation into the claims.

    Some questioned the “firm's independence” and ability to investigate the allegations with impartiality. As The New York Times reported, describing the Paul, Weiss investigation “as an ‘independent’ review commissioned by the company’s board … is not correct” because “The firm was retained by 21st Century Fox not only to investigate but also to provide legal advice.” The Times noted that a “true independent review would preclude legal advice.”

    As the investigation proceeded behind closed doors, media outlets reported that the “harassment and intimidation” inside Fox News “went beyond Mr. Ailes and suggested a broader problem in the workplace.” New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that Fox executives -- including Ailes deputy Bill Shine, who has since been promoted to co-president of Fox News -- were aware of Ailes’ alleged sexual harassment of Fox News employees and said some helped the former network chairman and CEO “cover up” his actions.

    But as news broke that Carlson and 21st Century Fox settled the suit, Vanity Fair reported that “the Paul, Weiss investigation … never officially expanded to examine the broader culture of Fox News.” According to Vanity Fair, Paul, Weiss “was apparently never ordered to scour the company’s hard drives for all evidence of sexual harassment or bawdy culture.”

    The settlement punctuates an important chapter in the Ailes scandal. While the Paul, Weiss investigation interviewed more than 20 women, according to two sources familiar with the process, it never officially expanded to examine the broader culture of Fox News. The firm, according to numerous people familiar with the process, was apparently never ordered to scour the company’s hard drives for all evidence of sexual harassment or bawdy culture. In some ways, according to one person familiar with the process, the Paul, Weiss investigation simply got a revenue machine back on track.

    As New Yorker contributing editor Jeannie Suk Gersen wrote: "“Unlike what reportedly happened around Ailes, neither an employee’s supervisor nor the person being accused of harassment should have any control over an investigation.”

    Given that Fox News has for years cultivated a toxic atmosphere of misogyny and sexism, and given reporting about the widespread culture of sexual harassment at the network that went beyond Ailes, Media Matters launched a petition calling on 21st Century Fox to publicly release the findings of the internal review. Though now those findings may be spurious, given the narrow scope of the investigation.