Fox's MediaBuzz Attacks Gretchen Carlson's Ratings While Covering Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Ailes

From the July 10 edition of Fox News' MediaBuzz

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HOWARD KURTZ (HOST): It's a lawsuit that has drawn heavy media coverage from the front page of the New York Times to the ABC and NBC nightly newscast. And it's a suit that has drawn a strongly worded denial from Fox News chairman Roger Ailes. Gretchen Carlson brought the wrongful termination suit against Ailes after her contract as the host of Fox's The Real Story was not renewed. She is alleging sexual harassment, saying that Ailes made comments about her physical appearance and once told her that they should have slept together long ago.

In a personal statement, Ailes said, “Gretchen Carlson's allegations are false. This is a retaliatory suit for the network's decision not to renew her contract, which was due to the fact that her disappointingly low ratings were dragging down the afternoon lineup. When Fox did not commence any negotiations to renew her contract, Ms. Carlson became aware that her career with the network was likely over and conveniently began to pursue a lawsuit. ”Ironically," Ailes continued, “Fox News provided her with more on-air opportunities over her 11-year tenure than any other employer in the industry for which she thanked me in her recent book. This defamatory lawsuit is not only offensive, it is wholly without merit and will be vigorously defended.”

Carlson's Real Story generally won its time slot, but it's the lowest rating show on FNC and last month lost in in the key viewer demographic to CNN. Carlson, the former co-host of Fox & Friends also makes allegations about Steve Doocy, who's not a defendant, saying he created a hostile work environment by treating her in a condescending and sexist way. The network's parent company, 21st Century Fox, expressed full confidence in Ailes and in Doocy are also saying there will be an internal review.

In her book last year, Carlson praised Ailes, and in a handwritten note last fall, after the very meeting where she alleges harassment, she thanked him and wrote, “I'd love to stay at Fox. Thank you also for suggesting a primetime special.” Ailes in a memo obtained by that we've confirmed told the top executive that, quote: “I met with Gretchen last night, and I think we'll give it another chance,” ticking off the opportunities she had requested." And on Friday, Ailes moved to turn the suit into a confidential arbitration proceeding, saying Carlson breached her contract requiring such a step for any conflict with the company. Carlson's lawyers say he's trying to force the proceeding into secrecy. Carlson herself says in a statement that she took this, quote, “difficult step” because, quote, “I had to stand up for myself and speak out for all women.” 

Now, I understand why the media would jump on such allegations, but lawsuits, by their very nature, contain exactly that: allegations. While some outlets now quoting anonymous sources, we'll stick to the facts in covering this case.


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