ABC: Roger Ailes' “PR Campaign” Possibly Meant To “Pressure Women Not To Come Forward” With Allegations Of Sexual Harassment

From the July 20 edition of ABC's Good Morning America:

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GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (CO-HOST): Right now that Fox News bombshell. Chief Roger Ailes negotiating an exit from the network after those sexual harassment allegations and now the reports that anchor Megyn Kelly told investigators that Ailes made unwanted advances towards her, too. ABC's Rebecca Jarvis outside Fox News headquarters in New York. Good morning, Rebecca.

REBECCA JARVIS: Good morning, George. And this morning, two newspapers owned by the same company as Fox reporting that a Roger Ailes exit is imminent amid those allegations coming out reportedly from Megyn Kelly that she too was sexually harassed. This report today from The New York Post, “What The Fox! Dramatic shake-up at top news network.” This morning, reports that Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News and one of the most powerful men in television may soon be out of a job. According to a newly released article in New York magazine, Megyn Kelly, one of the network's biggest stars, told investigators for 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, that Ailes made unwanted sexual advances toward her about 10 years ago when she was a correspondent.

GABRIEL SHERMAN: For her to level these allegations is devastating against Ailes.

JARVIS: Attorneys for Ailes firing back overnight, telling ABC news the 76-year-old “has never sexually harassed Megyn Kelly.” 21st Century Fox denying Ailes has been fired, tweeting “Roger is at work. The review is ongoing.” The possibility of an Ailes departure comes on the heels of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by Gretchen Carlson. The former Fox & Friends anchor claiming Ailes sabotaged her career because she refused his sexual advances, allegations he has vigorously denied. Carlson posting this video online Tuesday.


GRETCHEN CARLSON: I want to support all women who have been victims of sexual harassment.


JARVIS: Following Carlson's allegations, more than a dozen Fox News personalities have come forward publicly defending Ailes, leaving some wondering if Ailes leaves, will the network's biggest stars follow suit?

SHERMAN: Roger Ailes orchestrated a PR campaign and that's another thing that Rupert Murdoch's lawyers are looking at perhaps that was meant to silence and pressure women not to come forward.

JARVIS: An attorney for Ailes telling me overnight there have been lots of proposals, lots of discussions going back and forth, but there is no deal at this point for an exit agreement regarding Roger Ailes. George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Rebecca, thanks very much. Let's bring in our chief legal analyst Dan Abrams for more on this right now. Maybe no deal yet, Dan, but this suit was just filed two weeks ago. Already negotiating an exit. That didn't take long.

DAN ABRAMS: No, and, look, a source close to the investigation tells me that part of the reason for that is that Megyn Kelly's alleged to these investigators multiple incidents of harassment and it's not just about Megyn Kelly.


ABRAMS: Because the source tells me that multiple Fox News talent, women, both current and/or former, have come forward to allege possible harassment by Roger Ailes and that's why this is moving so quickly, is because it's so clear to the owners now that something needs to be done.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if that's true, if there are multiple allegations from Megyn Kelly, multiple allegations from other correspondents, how could he get, I don't know, $40 million in severance and a consulting contract?

ABRAMS: That's a business decision, right. I mean, that's a decision by [21st] Century Fox that they're going to have to fight him legally, right. So if they were to fire him and say you're not going to get anything, he would sue, say as he said publicly, he said I didn't harass these women. I didn't harass Gretchen Carlson. I didn't harass Megyn Kelly. And then there would be a fight with him. So for them, this isn't going to end up being a sort of principal decision. It's going to be a business decision. And if in the end they decide it is easier and cleaner for them to settle this, then they will. They may take the position, look, we're not going to make a judgment here about whether we think Roger Ailes harassed anyone. What we are going to do is try to end this by reaching some sort of settlement.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Real quickly, Dan, what does this mean for Gretchen Carlson's suit?

ABRAMS: Well, look, even if they settle with Gretchen Carlson, she sued Roger Ailes personally, and so that lawsuit will likely continue and the more women who she can get to potentially come forward, potentially the stronger her lawsuit could become.


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