Erik Wemple: Fox News Is A “Cesspool Of Sexual Harassment”
Wemple: “This Place Has Been Churning Out Sexual Harassment Lawsuits As Readily As It Does Attacks On President Obama And Congratulations For Donald Trump”
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From the April 3 edition of MSNBC Live:
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DAVID FOLKENFLIK: So the lawsuit involving Julie Roginsky, who’s worked for Fox News as a paid contributor since 2011, alleges that [former Fox News chair] Roger Ailes kept talking to her about her career advancement, dangled the possibility of hosting the popular early evening show The Five, which would be a big bump in pay and prominence and lead to more pay and other outside activities like possible book deals or speaking tours and the like, and that he steered those very same conversations repeatedly to her looks, to the fact that she was still single, to the fact that she should date, in his words, according to the lawsuit, “older, married, conservative men,” a demographic I should say that fits Roger Ailes to a T. And that he repeatedly asked her out for drinks, and in an incident that came to a head in late April of 2015, he said, "Well, we should probably have those drinks not in public or we'd get in too much trouble," and suggested they have private drinks in his office at Fox News. So this was something she denied -- or refused his request, and that job never materialized.
KATY TUR (HOST): Erik, this is certainly conspicuous timing. On Sunday The New York Times had a bombshell report that Fox News paid $13 million to settle lawsuits against Bill O'Reilly, sexual harassment lawsuits. What do you make of the timing?
ERIK WEMPLE: Well, I think the timing is instructive, but on some level, this place is such a cesspool of sexual harassment that there are bound to be some coincidences. This place has been churning out sexual harassment lawsuits as readily as it does attacks on President Obama and congratulations for Donald Trump. So this is no surprise. This is a place that under Rogers Ailes has really mistreated women, and it's been very well documented. There were two dozen or so women who apparently talked about their problems with Roger Ailes. There are another five now with Bill O'Reilly. This is going to be a drip, drip, drip. Fox never fully cleaned up this matter by doing a thorough-going internal investigation, so this is what you get when you don't clean house.
TUR: David, Bill O'Reilly says that he's a target because he's a high-profile and controversial figure. What does that -- I don't want to poke holes in his defense, but I certainly know a lot of high-profile, controversial, and prominent figures in the media, men in the media, who are not faced with so many sexual harassment lawsuits.
FOLKENFLIK: Well, Bill O'Reilly says he's doing this because he just needs these things to go away so his children aren't embarrassed. Roger Ailes has denied all previous charges. Within the last hour, his lawyer, Susan Estrich, sent me a note calling Julie Roginsky’s account fiction. And yet there are a lot of high-profile people who have not been accused of it and who have not paid multiple millions of dollars to settle these things. The first instance settled against Roger Ailes appears to have been in 2011 for $3 million. That on its own should have been a warning sign to Ailes’ bosses at 21st Century Fox.
TUR: Millions and millions of dollars paid out to women accusing now two people at Fox News of sexual harassment.
TUR: More, excuse me. There's more.
TUR: There’s more.