Roger Ailes

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  • Report: Sexual Harassment At Fox News Goes Way  Beyond Roger Ailes

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Following the ousting of former Fox CEO Roger Ailes amid allegations that he sexually harassed former network anchor Gretchen Carlson, The New York Times reported that a culture of sexual harassment and intimidation in Fox News may extend beyond Ailes. According to the Times, interviews with current and former Fox News employees revealed “instances of harassment and intimidation that went beyond Mr. Ailes and suggested a broader problem in the workplace.”

    On July 21, Fox News’ parent company announced that Ailes would be resigning his position at Fox News but would receive $60 million and continue to work “as a consultant” with 21st Century Fox. Ailes’ ousting from the company follows a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. According to The Washington Post, 25 women have come forward to make similar harassment claims against Ailes.

    The New York Times reported on July 23 that Fox News may have “a broader problem in the workplace,” that extends beyond Ailes after at least “a dozen women” told the Times that “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.” From the Times’ report:

    The investigation by Fox News’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, focused narrowly on Mr. Ailes. But in interviews with The New York Times, current and former employees described instances of harassment and intimidation that went beyond Mr. Ailes and suggested a broader problem in the workplace.

    The Times spoke with about a dozen women who 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. With the exception of Ms. Bakhtiar, they all spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing embarrassment and fear of retribution. Most continue to work in television and worry that speaking out could damage their careers.

    They told of strikingly similar experiences at Fox News. Several said that inappropriate comments about a woman’s appearance and sex life were frequent. Managers tried to set up their employees on dates with superiors.

    [...]

    The women interviewed by The Times described similarly troubling experiences at Fox News and the Fox Business Network, a sprawling operation with about 2,000 employees on several floors of News Corporation’s headquarters on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan.

    The networks were run with an iron fist by Mr. Ailes, the founding chairman and a former Republican strategist, who established the channels as a lucrative profit center and an influential voice in conservative politics.

    [...]

    It is difficult to know exactly how much Mr. Ailes set the tone. The investigation into his conduct revealed findings troubling enough to compel 21st Century Fox executives to move quickly and arrange his exit. Beyond inappropriate language, Mr. Ailes was also accused by employees of kissing and intimate physical contact, according to three people briefed on the investigation, and of making propositions that included quid pro quo arrangements.

    [...]

    Female staff members told of problems with other supervisors as well. One current employee said that she was with a male supervisor in a closed-door, one-on-one meeting in 2009 when she asked to work on an assignment. He turned to her and said, “Sure,” then conditioned it on oral sex. The woman said she laughed it off, thinking that she would face retaliation and be demoted if she told him that the comment was inappropriate.

  • Washington Post Reports 25 Women Have Come Forward To Accuse Former Fox CEO Ailes Of Harassment  

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Following a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson against former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, 25 women have come forward to make claims of similar harassment against Ailes, according to a July 22 report from The Washington Post.

    On July 21, Fox News’ parent company announced that Ailes would be resigning his position at Fox News but would receive $60 million in a “consultant” position with 21st Century Fox.  

    The Washington Post highlighted the “locker room” mentality at Fox News, alongside new allegations in a July 22 article which reports there are now 25 women accusing Ailes of misconduct and harassment, dating back decades:

    News of Carlson’s firing, and the lawsuit she filed shortly thereafter, have now prompted 25 women to come forward with what they describe as similar harassment claims against Ailes that stretch across five decades back to his days in the 1960s as a young television producer, according to Carlson’s attorney, Nancy Erika Smith.

    Interviews with four of those women portray the 76-year-old television powerhouse as a man who could be routinely crude and inappropriate, ogling young women, commenting about their breasts and legs, and fostering a macho, insensitive culture. Among those who agreed to interviews is a 2002 Fox intern who spoke for the first time about her accusation that Ailes grabbed her buttocks and repeatedly propositioned her.

    […]

    The signals sent by Ailes were quickly picked up by the employees, the former staffer said. Some women began showing up to news meetings in short skirts and blouses that showed their cleavage.

    “It became common knowledge that women did not want to be alone with him,” the former staffer said. “They would bring other men with them when they had to meet him. It became a locker room, towel-snapping environment. He would say things like, ‘She’s really got the goods’ and ‘look at the t--s on that one.’ ”

    Sometimes, the former staffer said, Ailes made “jokes that he liked having women on their knees. The tone he set went through the organization.”

     

  • CNN Reports Trump And Ailes Have “Counseled Each Other In Multiple Phone Calls This Week”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes have “counseled each other in multiple phone calls this week,” according to CNN, a week marked by Ailes’ resignation as head of Fox and Trump’s nomination at the Republican National Convention.

    Roger Ailes resigned as chairman of Fox News on July 21 amid allegations of sexual harassment by current and former Fox employees, the same day Trump is slated to accept the nomination as the Republican candidate for president.  

    Ailes and Trump have a long and inexorably linked history together, and media figures have noted that Ailes and Fox News “created space that Trump filled.” Fox has provided Trump an unprecedented platform during his candidacy, giving Trump endless free airtime, talking points, and defenses of his actions and rhetoric. In return, Trump defended Ailes against the sexual harassment allegations.

    CNN’s Brian Stelter reported that amid the fallout from the sexual harassment allegations, Ailes and Trump “counseled each other in multiple phone calls,” and that “even as [Ailes] was negotiating the end of his time leading Fox News, [he] was still talking with” Trump. CNN also reported that “there was immediate speculation … that Ailes might seek to advise Trump in a formal capacity now that he is no longer with Fox News.” The report noted that “Ailes and Trump have had a friendly relationship for decades.” From the July 21 CNN.com report:

    Even as he was negotiating the end of his time leading Fox News, Roger Ailes was still talking with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

    The two counseled each other in multiple phone calls this week, two Trump aides told CNNMoney.

    [...]

    There was immediate speculation -- even among some Fox staffers -- that Ailes might seek to advise Trump in a formal capacity now that he is no longer with Fox News.

    [...]

    Ailes and Trump have had a friendly relationship for decades.

    After Ailes was sued by ex-anchor Gretchen Carlson earlier this month, Trump expressed support for him. When asked about the allegations by the Washington Examiner, Trump said, "I think they are unfounded just based on what I've read. "Totally unfounded, based on what I read."

  • Fox Figures React To Roger Ailes Resignation Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations With “Tears”

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Following reports that Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes had resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment, Fox News figures reacted with disbelief, “tears,” and calling the decision an example of “the grotesque unfairness of life.”

    In a July 21 statement from Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox, it was announced that Ailes “has resigned from his role effective immediately,” and that Executive Chairman of 21st Century Fox “Rupert Murdoch will assume the role of Chairman and acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.” 

    Previously multiple Fox figures came out in support of Ailes and attacked his accuser. Following the news of Ailes’ resignation, Fox personalities responded with support for Ailes:

  • Roger Ailes Has Resigned From Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    21st Century Fox has announced that Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes is leaving the network. Fox has been conducting an internal review of Ailes’ conduct after former anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him.

    Rupert Murdoch, 21st Century Fox executive chairman, said in a press release that he will take over the role of chairman and acting CEO of Fox News and Fox Business. Murdoch praised Ailes for making “a remarkable contribution to our company and our country. Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years. Fox News has given voice to those who were ignored by the traditional networks and has been one of the great commercial success stories of modern media.”

    The Drudge Report posted an “exclusive” letter from Ailes to Murdoch in which he wrote that he is “proud that we have built Fox News and Fox Business Channels into powerful and lucrative news organizations” and “will not allow my presence to become a distraction.” He added that he looks “forward to continuing to work with you as a consultant in building 21st Century Fox.”

    Ailes also wrote that he takes “particular pride in the role that I have played advancing the careers of the many women I have promoted to executive and on-air positions.”

    Media Matters chairman David Brock released the following statement on July 18 in response to news about Ailes’ impending departure:

    Fox News has been the undisputed champion of sexism and misogyny in the media and as the head of Fox News, it's not shocking that this culture of sexism -- on and off the air -- starts at the top with Roger Ailes.  If this report is accurate, there is a special irony in 21st Century Fox preparing to remove Ailes as the Republican National Convention gets ready to nominate known misogynist Donald Trump, the candidate that Fox News created.

    Media Matters has recently published several pieces about Ailes’ legacy:

    Ailes, Trump, And The Republican Reckoning

    “The End Of This Fox”: Journalists At The Republican Convention React To News Of Ailes’ Likely Departure

    Roger Ailes' Legacy: Building The GOP's Communications Arm Under The Guise Of A "News" Network

    Soon-To-Be-Former Fox CEO Roger Ailes Has A Long History Of Bigotry, Sexism, And Homophobia

    Roger Ailes Built The Conservative Infrastructure That Donald Trump Is Exploiting

    UPDATES: The Hollywood Reporter wrote of Ailes' departure: "Terms of the exit agreement have not been released, but sources say Ailes will walk away with $40 million, which is the remainder left on his contract, which originally extended into 2018. There is also no formal advisory role in the exit agreement, but Ailes will be available to Rupert Murdoch during the transition period. And sources say there is a non-compete clause in the exit agreement, which is standard."

    Following Ailes' official resignation, Media Matters founder David Brock issued the following statement:

    Media Matters has successfully branded Fox News as a network not to be trusted. We combat their on-air falsehoods, sexism, and misogyny daily. While Roger Ailes ultimately went down as a result of his heinous behavior, twelve years of Media Matters calling out his network for outrageous right-wing propaganda and ensuring that millions of people were aware of it in real-time certainly didn't hurt.