Republican nominee Donald Trump is defending and praising former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, an alleged serial sexual harasser who reportedly oversaw a culture of sexual harassment and intimidation at Fox. Trump also seeks Ailes' counsel and said he would consider hiring him for his campaign.
Roger Ailes Reportedly Sexually Harassed Numerous Women And Oversaw A Culture At Fox That Was Hostile To Women
Ailes Left Fox News Amid Numerous Sexual Harassment Allegations. In early July, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson sued Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. Carlson’s attorney told The Washington Post that 25 women have “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.” 21st Century Fox tasked a law firm with conducting a review of Ailes' conduct and “the initial findings were damaging enough that the Murdochs decided they had to escort Ailes out,” according to CNN’s Brian Stelter. New York writer Gabriel Sherman reported that sources briefed on the investigation said Fox News host Megyn Kelly told investigators that Ailes sexually harassed her. [The Washington Post, 7/22/16; CNN, The Lead with Jake Tapper, 7/21/16; New York magazine, 7/19/16]
Ailes Oversaw Workplace With Long History Of Misogyny -- Both On Air And Off. Ailes oversaw Fox News for two decades. During that time, Fox News’ on-air programming regularly featured sexist and misogynistic programming. Behind the camera, Ailes reportedly not only sexually harassed employees but also allowed a pervasive culture of sexual harassment by other superiors. The New York Times reported:
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. [Media Matters, 8/18/15; 7/6/16; The New York Times, 7/24/16]
Trump Counsels And Defends “Good Person” Roger Ailes Amid Countless Sexual Harassment Allegations
Trump Called Accusations Against Ailes “Totally Unfounded, Based On What I Read.” The Washington Examiner reported of its interview with Trump:
In an interview Thursday with the Washington Examiner, Trump said he doesn't believe the allegations recently leveled against the 76-year-old Fox News chief executive.
“I think they are unfounded just based on what I've read,” said Trump. “Totally unfounded, based on what I read.” [Washington Examiner, 7/14/16]
CNN: Ailes And Trump “Counseled Each Other In Multiple Phone Calls” During Fallout Over Sexual Harassment Allegations. CNN’s Brian Stelter reported on July 21:
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. [CNN.com, 7/21/16]
Sherman: “Trump Gave Ailes Advice … When Carlson Scandal First Broke.” [Twitter, 7/19/16]
Trump Defended Ailes Against Accusations, Called Him “A Very, Very Good Person.” From an interview Trump gave on NBC’s Meet the Press:
CHUCK TODD (HOST): Roger Ailes, is he helping you, is he advising you?
DONALD TRUMP: Well I don’t want to comment, but he has been a friend of mine for a long time and I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them and even recently and when they write 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, it’s very sad. Because he’s a very good person. I’ve always found him to be just a very, very good person and by the way a very, very talented person, look what he’s done. So I feel very badly. But a lot of people think he is going to run my campaign. My campaign is doing pretty well. [NBC, Meet the Press, 7/24/16]
Trump Says He “Would Think About” Hiring “Friend” Ailes Despite Allegations. The Hollywood Reporter wrote of its interview with Trump:
During his interview with THR, the GOP candidate also addressed a point of speculation in media circles about Ailes. Would he consider having the recently resigned Fox News chief, who stepped down after sexual harassment allegations surfaced, as a consultant on his campaign?
The billionaire businessman says the topic of Ailes working for his campaign has yet to be “broached.”
“You know, Roger's been a friend of mine for a long time and he's done an incredible job ... but nobody has actually — Roger has never mentioned it to me at all,” says Trump. “I would think about it. We have a great team. We have a great campaign going. But Roger is a very capable guy and he's a friend of mine.” [The Hollywood Reporter, 7/26/16]
Trump Loves Ailes And Has Had Decades-Long Friendship With Him
Trump: “Fox Is Terrific. All My Friends, Including Roger Ailes -- There's Nobody Like Them.” [Fox News, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, 9/19/08]
Trump On Ailes: “We All Love Him. He’s An Amazing Guy. He's The Best.” [Fox News, Hannity, 1/10/13]
Trump: Ailes “Is A Great Guy” And “His Word Is Always Good!” Trump had an off-and-on-again relationship with Fox News during the Republican primary. Trump tweeted in August of Ailes: “Roger Ailes just called. He is a great guy & assures me that ‘Trump’ will be treated fairly on @FoxNews. His word is always good!” [Twitter, 8/10/15]
Trump: “Ailes Has Been A Friend Of Mine For A Long Time.” Trump said of Ailes: “Roger Ailes has been a friend of mine for a long time. He called me yesterday. We have a great relationship, he’s somebody I have great respect for.” [CNN, New Day, 8/11/15, via Mediaite]
Trump And Ailes Reportedly “Met Privately For Lunch” In The Days Before Trump Announced His Campaign. Dylan Byers reported in Politico that “Donald Trump and Fox News chief Roger Ailes met privately for lunch at the 21st Century Fox headquarters in Manhattan in late June, just eight days after Trump announced his bid for the presidency” and it “was an informal meeting among friends, sources with knowledge of the meeting said. Still, Trump and Ailes discussed aspects of the 2016 presidential campaign at length.” [Politico, 7/8/15]
Politico On Trump-Ailes Friendship In July 2015: Sources Say Trump And Ailes “Talk And Correspond Frequently.” Dylan Byers reported in Politico that “Trump and Ailes have been friends for more than 25 years and talk and correspond frequently, the sources said.” [Politico, 7/8/15]
New York Magazine's Gabriel Sherman: “Trump Played Mediator To Help Them Work Out A Severance Deal For Roger Ailes' PR Confidant.” Gabriel Sherman reported during an appearance on MSNBC in April about Trump’s role in negotiating an exit package for former Fox News executive Brian Lewis:
GABRIEL SHERMAN: It's really fascinating and this sort of helped me connect the dots to figure out why Trump has been able to do something that no other Republicans have done, which is to go up against Fox News with impunity and kind of brazenly challenge Roger Ailes and Fox News. And what I learned is that, in 2013, when Roger Ailes fired his longtime PR confidant, who was privy to the darkest, most interesting controversial secrets about Fox News, Donald Trump played mediator to help them work out a severance deal for Roger Ailes' PR confidant, and learned all of the dirt that he was going to spill, that Roger Ailes ended up paying millions of dollars to keep secret. So now, Donald Trump goes into this fight knowing that Ailes presumably knows that he knows things that he doesn't want public, and really that's why, although you've seen Fox fight back, it has not been a scorched earth campaign. Roger Ailes has not turned over Fox News' airwaves to attack Trump 24/7, the way he's done against his other political enemies. [MSNBC, All In with Chris Hayes, 4/4/16]
Top Trump Adviser Roger Stone: Ailes And Trump Have Been Friends For “40 Years.” [Politico Playbook Breakfast, 7/19/16]