Media Structures & Regulations

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  • 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.

  • Trump Says He “Would Think About” Hiring Disgraced Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes To Work On Campaign

    Trump: Ailes Is A “Very Capable Guy,” And “A Friend Of Mine”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Donald Trump “would think about” hiring disgraced ex-Fox CEO Roger Ailes, who was forced to resign following a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former Fox host Gretchen Carlson. Following the announcement of Carlson’s lawsuit, dozens of women have come forward to allege sexual misconduct by Ailes going back decades.

    Despite the allegations, which include sexual harassment that was “encouraged and protected” at Fox News under Ailes, Trump praised Ailes and described him as “a friend of mine” and “very capable”:

    There have been all sorts of rumors about Roger Ailes potentially helping the Donald Trump campaign now that he’s out as Fox News Chairman & CEO, and Trump himself isn’t discounting the idea.

    In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Trump said, “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.”

    That being said, Trump admitted he “would think about it.” He praised Ailes as a “Roger very capable guy and he’s a friend of mine.”

    [h/t Mediaite]

  • CNN Reports First High-Level Executive Leaves Fox News Only Days After Sexual Harassment Investigation Forced Out Roger Ailes

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    CNN's Dylan Byers reports that former Fox News Executive Vice President Michael Clemente has left the network "days after Roger Ailes' departure from Fox News.”

    CNN reported that Clemente’s departure “was unrelated to the recent sexual harassment allegations surrounding Ailes,” which continues to plague the network, with new reports that sexual harassment may be widespread at Fox. Clemente’s number two, Peter Boyer, also left the network. CNN noted that Clemente "showed no signs of leaving the network prior to the scandal”:

    Michael Clemente, a longtime executive vice president of News at Fox who was effectively demoted earlier this year, has left the network, spokespeople confirmed. Peter Boyer, a former New Yorker writer who recently served as Clemente's number two, has also left.

    Clemente's departure, first reported by TVNewser, was approved by 21st Century Fox co-chairman Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch. Network insiders say the move was unrelated to the recent sexual harassment allegations surrounding Ailes, though it's also true that Clemente showed no signs of leaving the network prior to the scandal.

    Clemente's exit from Fox follows reports from New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman that Fox News executives had helped Ailes "cover up" sexual harassment allegations, as well as Good Morning America's report that there was a "culture inside Fox News" of sexual harassment.

  • CNN Reports Trump And Ailes Have “Counseled Each Other In Multiple Phone Calls This Week”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes have “counseled each other in multiple phone calls this week,” according to CNN, a week marked by Ailes’ resignation as head of Fox and Trump’s nomination at the Republican National Convention.

    Roger Ailes resigned as chairman of Fox News on July 21 amid allegations of sexual harassment by current and former Fox employees, the same day Trump is slated to accept the nomination as the Republican candidate for president.  

    Ailes and Trump have a long and inexorably linked history together, and media figures have noted that Ailes and Fox News “created space that Trump filled.” Fox has provided Trump an unprecedented platform during his candidacy, giving Trump endless free airtime, talking points, and defenses of his actions and rhetoric. In return, Trump defended Ailes against the sexual harassment allegations.

    CNN’s Brian Stelter reported that amid the fallout from the sexual harassment allegations, Ailes and Trump “counseled each other in multiple phone calls,” and that “even as [Ailes] was negotiating the end of his time leading Fox News, [he] was still talking with” Trump. CNN also reported that “there was immediate speculation … that Ailes might seek to advise Trump in a formal capacity now that he is no longer with Fox News.” The report noted that “Ailes and Trump have had a friendly relationship for decades.” From the July 21 CNN.com report:

    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.

    [...]

    There was immediate speculation -- even among some Fox staffers -- that Ailes might seek to advise Trump in a formal capacity now that he is no longer with Fox News.

    [...]

    Ailes and Trump have had a friendly relationship for decades.

    After Ailes was sued by ex-anchor Gretchen Carlson earlier this month, Trump expressed support for him. When asked about the allegations by the Washington Examiner, Trump said, "I think they are unfounded just based on what I've read. "Totally unfounded, based on what I read."

  • Fox Figures React To Roger Ailes Resignation Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations With “Tears”

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Following reports that Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes had resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment, Fox News figures reacted with disbelief, “tears,” and calling the decision an example of “the grotesque unfairness of life.”

    In a July 21 statement from Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox, it was announced that Ailes “has resigned from his role effective immediately,” and that Executive Chairman of 21st Century Fox “Rupert Murdoch will assume the role of Chairman and acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.” 

    Previously multiple Fox figures came out in support of Ailes and attacked his accuser. Following the news of Ailes’ resignation, Fox personalities responded with support for Ailes: