Gender

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  • Report: Fox Executives Knew, Covered Up Roger Ailes’ Predatory Sexual Harassment For Over 20 Years

    Former Fox Booker Laurie Luhn: Ailes Required “Luring Young Female Fox Employees Into One-On-One Situations”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that a former Fox News booking director claims to have been sexually harassed by Roger Ailes “for more than 20 years,” Fox executives helped cover it up, and a settlement document she signed with the network “precludes her from speaking to government authorities like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the FBI. Not to mention the press.”

    Sherman wrote about the former booking director's experience working for Fox and being “psychologically tortured” by Ailes and the network. Laurie Luhn explained that during her time at Fox as a booking director, she was “required [] to do many things she is now horrified by, including luring young female Fox employees into one-on-one situations with Aies that Luhn knew could result in harassment.” Luhn also recounted her own sexual harassment from Ailes and how the network settled with her on the conditions of an “extensive nondisclosure” agreement which prevented Luhn from taking the network to court: :

    The morning after Fox News chief Roger Ailes resigned, the cable network’s former director of booking placed a call to the New York law firm hired by 21st Century Fox to investigate sexual-harassment allegations against Ailes. Laurie Luhn told the lawyers at Paul, Weiss that she had been harassed by Ailes for more than 20 years, that executives at Fox News had known about it and helped cover it up, and that it had ruined her life. “It was psychological torture,” she later told me.

    […]

    In late 2010 or early 2011, Luhn said, she wrote a letter to Fox lawyer Dianne Brandi saying she had been sexually harassed by Ailes for 20 years. Brandi did not acknowledge receipt of the letter, but, according to a source, she asked Ailes about the sexual-harassment allegations, which he vehemently denied. Ailes, according to the source, told Brandi to work out a settlement. Luhn hired an attorney to negotiate her exit from Fox. Through a spokesperson, Brandi declined to comment.

    On June 15, 2011, Luhn and Brandi signed a $3.15 million settlement agreement with extensive nondisclosure provisions. The settlement document, which Luhn showed me, bars her from going to court against Fox for the rest of her life. It also precludes her from speaking to government authorities like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the FBI. Not to mention the press. Aware that speaking with New York on the record could pose legal risks, Luhn was insistent that she wanted to tell her story. “The truth shall set you free. Nothing else matters,” she told me. Her family friend also said this is what Luhn wanted.

  • Fox News Ignored First Transgender Person To Address Major Party's Convention

    CNN And MSNBC Carried Sarah McBride’s Speech Live

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY & RACHEL PERCELAY

    Fox News did not air Sarah McBride’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, where she made history becoming the first openly transgender person to speak at a major party’s convention. Fox did however carry Peter Thiel’s speech to the Republican National Convention live, where he made history announcing to the Republican convention that he is gay. CNN and MSNBC aired both McBride’s and Thiel’s speeches.

  • Gretchen Carlson: Fox News Employees Who Defended Ailes “Should Have Known Better”

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, whose sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit led to Roger Ailes’ recent exit from the network, told The Washington Post in an interview that she was “angry that it took so long” for Ailes to be pushed out. Carlson also said that Fox News employees who publicly defended Ailes “should have known better.”

    Earlier this month, Carlson filed a lawsuit alleging that Ailes fired her after she declined his sexual advances. Since then, an additional 25 women have come forward to allege harassment by Ailes, according to Carlson’s attorney. Ailes biographer Gabriel Sherman reported that Fox News host Megyn Kelly told investigators that Ailes had harassed her as well. On July 19, it was reported that Ailes would leave Fox News as a result of the allegations and an internal investigation; he resigned two days later.

    In an interview with Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan, Carlson said her reaction to Ailes’ dismissal was, “At first, satisfaction -- or no, I think validation” and that she “felt angry that it took so long.” She also noted, “It’s complicated — there was relief that now I would be believed — and I was happy to a certain extent over that.”

    When asked about reports that Kelly came forward to speak about Ailes, Carlson said, “I appreciated that she told the truth, and I know it was risky.” Sullivan writes that Carlson was also “disturbed by the public statements of some Fox News women and men who came forward in the first few days to say glowing things about Ailes’s character.”

    Carlson said, “Some of them were lawyers. They should have known better, so I was surprised. It was like, ‘Wow, you have no idea what you’re talking about’,” adding, “But I was at Fox a long time. I know how it works. You could sense that it all was orchestrated.” (Fox News has a notoriously ruthless PR department that often targets people critical of the network.) From Sullivan’s article:

    But when I asked her how she felt as she watched Roger Ailes — perhaps the most powerful media figure in America — step down as Fox News chief only two weeks after she had sued him for sexual harassment, she searched for the right description.

    “At first, satisfaction, or no, I think validation,” she told me Wednesday. And then, she said, a new round of emotion came rushing in over the sexual harassment she says she endured while working for Ailes. “I felt angry that it took so long.”

    “It’s complicated — there was relief that now I would be believed — and I was happy to a certain extent over that.”

    […]

    “I appreciated that she told the truth, and I know it was risky,” Carlson said, but she disagreed that Kelly’s statements made all the difference. It was “the multitude of women” who started to come forward, creating a critical mass that could no longer be ignored.

    […]

    Conversely, she was disturbed by the public statements of some Fox News women and men who came forward in the first few days to say glowing things about Ailes’s character, suggesting that he could never have engaged in sexual harassment.

    “Some of them were lawyers. They should have known better, so I was surprised. It was like, ‘Wow, you have no idea what you’re talking about,” she said. “But I was at Fox a long time. I know how it works. You could sense that it all was orchestrated.”

  • NY Times: After Ailes’ Departure, An “Icy” Split Inside Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The New York Times reported that following the departure of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes amid a sexual harassment lawsuit, “there is a continuing split inside the network” between “one camp of old-guard Fox News loyalists” who are defending Ailes -- and are “resentful” toward those “cooperating with lawyers” -- and “another contingent” who are “dismayed” by Ailes’ defenders.  

    Earlier this month, former Fox host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit that alleged Roger Ailes fired her from the network after she declined his sexual advances. Since Carlson’s lawsuit, an additional 25 women came forward to make similar claims, including Fox host Megyn Kelly. On July 19, media reported that Ailes would leave Fox News as a result of the allegations, which has created a rift within the network that Fox media analyst Howard Kurtz called “painful and embarrassing.”

    In a July 27 article, Times reporters Michael M. Grynbaum and Emily Steel, reported that “nearly a dozen Fox News employees” described an “icy” atmosphere amid the “continuing split inside the network.” The explained the split as between two camps. One of which is a “camp of old-guard Fox News loyalists” who are upset at Ailes’ “ouster” and are “resentful toward [network anchor Megyn] Kelly for cooperating with lawyers brought in by the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, to investigate Mr. Ailes’s behavior.” The other is “dismayed by the responses of stars like Kimberly Guilfoyle, Greta Van Susteren and Jeanine Pirro, who were quick to publicly defend Mr. Ailes after he was accused of harassment.” From the article: 

    The Fox News skybox here turns into a hive of activity as the network’s star anchors analyze the Democratic National Convention for millions of viewers.

    When the cameras blink off, however, the banter has been replaced by something rarely heard in the television news business: silence.

    Megyn Kelly and her co-hosts, including Bret Baier and Brit Hume, have not been speaking during commercial breaks, according to two people with direct knowledge of the anchors’ interactions, who described the on-set atmosphere at Fox News as icy. During ads, the hosts are often absorbed with their smartphones.

    Even as Fox News goes about broadcasting as usual, scoring its highest convention ratings in 20 years, interviews this week with network employees show an organization grappling with internal division after the abrupt exit of Roger Ailes, the once-omnipotent chairman at the center of a sexual harassment investigation.

    Nearly a dozen Fox News employees, who work in front of and behind the camera, were granted anonymity to speak candidly about highly sensitive matters inside a network where privacy is still prized.

    The hosts’ on-set interactions have improved slightly since last week’s shows at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, which were broadcast immediately after Mr. Ailes’s departure.

    Still, employees say there is a continuing split inside the network, with one camp of old-guard Fox News loyalists — some of whom owe their careers to Mr. Ailes — upset at his ouster. Some are resentful toward Ms. Kelly for cooperating with lawyers brought in by the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, to investigate Mr. Ailes’s behavior.

  • Forbes Highlights Roger Ailes’ Use Of “Sex Appeal” And “Objectification Of Women” To Boost Fox News’ Ratings

    Forbes, Citing Former Fox Anchor, Reports Ailes Stipulated Female Contributor “Remain A Size Four”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Former Fox News president Roger Ailes exploited female employees' “sex appeal” and instituted a “culture of objectification of women” to boost ratings, according to Forbes. Reportedly among the “sexually charged culture fostered by Ailes” was a condition in a female Fox contributor's contract that “required her to remain a size four.”

    Ailes had a long and sordid history of rampant sexism and misogyny during his time as Fox News’ chief. Since former Fox host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, dozens of women have reportedly come forward to make claims of similar harassment.

    Amid fallout from the allegations and Ailes’ ouster, media reports unearthed a culture of sexual harassment and intimidation at Fox that went beyond Ailes and suggested a “broader problem in the workplace.”

    Forbes’ Madeline Berg, citing “former Fox employees,” wrote that Ailes “fostered” a “sexually charged culture” at Fox News that rested upon the “objectification of women” and “sex appeal.” Ailes frequently relied on showing “a thin blonde, often large-chested, invariably heavily made up, wearing a fitted and brightly colored dress or skirt, visible through the transparent desk” as a “formula for boosting ratings,” according to the article. Berg quoted a “former anchor” who said a female contributor “claimed her contract required her to remain a size four,” and a "former producer" who said "skirts were a 'requirement'" for female employees. From the July 27 Forbes article:

    These “second floor” recommendations reflect one of many examples of the sexually charged culture fostered by Ailes at Fox News and Fox Business News, the two networks he created and ran for the parent company 21st Century Fox.

    Following a lawsuit filed against Ailes earlier this month by former anchor Gretchen Carlson alleging sexual harassment and retaliation, FORBES spoke to a number of former Fox employees to get a sense of what went on behind the scenes during the Ailes era.

    21st Century Fox declined to comment on the story. Representatives for Ailes did not respond to requests for comments. But the former employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described a culture of objectification of women and an unwillingness to stand up to superiors, including the authoritarian and god-like Ailes, who earned an extraordinary degree of autonomy from his notoriously hands-on boss, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, due to the unprecedented success he brought to 21st Century Fox.

    [...]

    One part of Ailes’ formula for boosting ratings: sex appeal.

    A look at almost any show on the network often shows a thin blonde, often large-chested, invariably heavily made up, wearing a fitted and brightly colored dress or skirt, visible through the transparent desk.

    [...]

    A former anchor recalled a contributor who claimed her contract required her to remain a size four—very thin, especially considering she was 5’9’’.

    And a former contributor and guest host said that he even knew female anchors who chose to wore (sic) waterbras to enhance their cleavage due to pressure to look a certain way.