CNN's Stelter Discusses Murdoch Family's “Silence” About The Roger Ailes Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Brian Stelter: “It Is Interesting That The Company, The Murdochs Aren't Saying A Word About This”

From the July 10 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:

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DAVID FOLKENFLIK: So let's think about this in a couple of ways, though. Because it seems to me that this is a moment in which the interests of Roger Ailes and Fox News may diverge from the interests of the Murdoch family and 21st Century Fox.

BRIAN STELTER (HOST): And maybe the lawsuit's intended that way, because it's not against Fox, it's only against Ailes. 

FOLKENFLIK: It's not against the institution and so David Zurawik rightly talks about the public relations war. And right now the public relations war is one in which Fox is, for the first time, really on the defensive and really taking incoming fire. At the second time, the legal fights, you know, the Murdoch family is responding a little differently. When Bill O'Reilly was sued as was mentioned earlier for sexual harassment, they settled without admission of wrongdoing, but it was believed that they had a lot of that harassment on tape. In this instance, the lawyers for Gretchen Carlson say they have evidence and documentation of the advances that Roger Ailes made. We don't know what form that takes if it does indeed exist, but nonetheless.

STELTER: I know there's been speculation inside Fox that there might be recordings but we don't know.

FOLKENFLIK: We don't know. But nonetheless, the Murdoch family announced that would be -- or have not denied reports that they are hiring outside counsel to do this. This gets it out of the internal control. There was not an outside counsel appointed to do this when Bill O'Reilly, their biggest star, was accused of sexual harassment. This is a different thing. When Col Allan, who's the editor-in-chief of the New York Post, was accused of sexual and racial discrimination by an editor who was dismissed, they did not appoint an outside counsel to do that. This is a different model. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that you have Rupert Murdoch transitioning the control of the company to his sons, Lachlan and James, neither of whom have ever been enamored of Roger Ailes. In fact Ailes made Lachlan's life very difficult during Lachlan's first run at the company, the parent company of News Corp. And what you're seeing now, I think, is this tension between Rupert Murdoch's loyalty and the Murdoch sons' desire for their company to be truly a 21st century company, as opposed to run with the mores of the Don Draper era.

STELTER: So that's the context for us to keep in mind in the weeks to come, and I have the banner on the screen, should Ailes step aside during the company probe, because I've asked 21st Century Fox. They haven't said if he will or not, if he is in charge or not. Now, I think as of today he's in charge, but it is interesting that the company, the Murdochs, aren't saying a word about this. 

FOLKENFLIK: They are being quieter than silent on this issue. There is no word other than that initial statement.


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