Good Morning America Highlights Allegations Of A “Culture Inside Fox News” Of Sexual Harassment

ABC's Rebecca Jarvis: Donald Trump Defended “His Longtime Friend” Roger Ailes From The Harassment Allegations

From the July 25 edition of ABC's Good Morning America:

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ROBIN ROBERTS (HOST): More women coming forward saying the problem much bigger than Roger Ailes, and Donald Trump now speaking out defending him. ABC's Rebecca Jarvis is at Fox News headquarters in New York with the latest. Good morning, Rebecca.

REBECCA JARVIS: Good morning, Robin. And that's right. More women coming forward not with just allegations against Roger Ailes, but the culture inside of Fox News itself. And this morning, new speculation about Roger Ailes' next move. Could the Republican kingmaker be joining the Trump campaign? Overnight, Donald Trump defending his longtime friend, former chairman and CEO of Fox News, Roger Ailes. 


DONALD TRUMP: I mean, it's so sad. He's such a great guy.


JARVIS: Trump touting the empire that Ailes built and last week walked away from after allegations of sexual harassment became public. 


TRUMP: What he's done on television is -- in the history of television he's got to be placed within the top three or four or five, and that includes the founding of the major networks. So, it's too bad. I mean, I'm sure it was friendly. I know Rupert [Murdoch]. He's a great guy.


JARVIS: Trump's campaign chair, Paul Manafort, echoing that support to George [Stephanopoulos].


PAUL MANAFORT: Roger certainly is a voice who understands the American people.


JARVIS: Adding to speculation that the 76-year-old, who's widely known as a Republican kingmaker, could potentially even join the Trump campaign.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Some speculation this morning that Roger Ailes, the ex-chairman of Fox News, is actually going to be advising your campaign. Is that true?

MANAFORT: I have no idea where that came from. There's just nothing I can say to that.


JARVIS: The backing coming as new allegations against the culture at Fox News are surfacing. In a new interview with The New York Times, former correspondent Rudi Bakhtiar alleges she was fired from the network after filing a complaint after rejecting sexual advances from former Washington bureau chief Brian Wilson, claims Wilson who left Fox News in 2010 denies. The network saying she was let go due to her performance. This in the wake of the lawsuit filed by Gretchen Carlson. The Times says approximately a dozen women have told them that they have experienced some form of harassment at the network. Two telling the paper they were harassed by Ailes, others saying they were harassed by other supervisors, all reportedly worrying that speaking out could be detrimental to their careers. Sources telling ABC News overnight that while several Fox personalities have spoken out in support of Ailes, it was only after Megyn Kelly refused to speak out in support of him that Ailes realized his job might be over. And attorneys for Gretchen Carlson saying their case against Roger Ailes will move forward. Meantime, the parent company of Fox News, 21st Century Fox, telling ABC news there's absolutely no room anywhere at our company for behavior that disrespects women or contributes to an uncomfortable work environment. Robin.

ROBERTS: All right, Rebecca, thank you. And joining us now to talk more about this is our chief legal analyst Dan Abrams back there in New York. And Dan, with this latest allegation, what does this tell you?

DAN ABRAMS: First of all, this is more dangerous in a way for the parent company. Why? Because, number one, it could indicate they knew or should have known there was a problem. And, number two, you're talking about allegations now against other managers at Fox News, not just Roger Ailes. So, from the corporate entity's perspective, the question is going to be a legal one, which is “should we have known that this was happening,” and reports like this are not helpful for them.

ROBERTS: The former correspondent that Rebecca was referring to in her report settled her case and even admits that she is not supposed to discuss it. So could she possibly be sued over this?

ABRAMS: She could absolutely be sued over it but she won't be. You know, she signed a contract in effect that said, I am agreeing to drop my lawsuit in exchange for X number of dollars, and part of that agreement involves not speaking publicly. But can you imagine right now with the parent company saying to women, please come forward, please tell us your stories, we want to know what's happening, that suddenly they would sue someone like this for something that happened in the past? I don't think there's a chance it'll happen.

ROBERTS: And possibly because they have to be concerned about the possibility of more lawsuits, because all these women, more coming forward, allegedly making these claims.

ABRAMS: Yes, but let's remember, there's also a statute of limitations here. Three years in New York state, a lot of the allegations are much older, but I think that, look, they have also a major PR problem here that they want to address, so they're both thinking legal and PR and I think that with regard to the legal issues, they're looking very carefully at how long ago many of these allegations were made. 

ROBERTS: How big is this, Dan, inside and outside of the industry? 

ABRAMS: It's huge, and I think that people outside the industry may not realize how big a deal Roger Ailes was in our industry, how much of a sort of trendsetter he was in terms of making cable news, to some degree, what it is today.


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