Sexual Harassment at Fox News

Tags ››› Sexual Harassment at Fox News
  • Both Of Roger Ailes’ Replacements Have Now Been Accused Of Participating In Fox News’ Culture Of Sexual Harassment

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Fox News’ culture of sexual harassment did not end when founder Roger Ailes was given the boot. Instead, the network seems to have replaced him with men who engaged in or helped cover up similar behavior.

    Last year, longtime Fox executives Jack Abernethy and Bill Shine became the network’s co-presidents, replacing Ailes, who left the network after dozens of women accused him of sexual harassment.

    Abernethy has now been accused of retaliating against an employee who refused a personal relationship with him, while Shine was previously identified as playing “an integral role in the cover up” of sexual harassment allegations against Ailes.

    After the allegations against Ailes came to light, the network’s parent company launched an investigation by a law firm hired to review the allegations and provide legal advice. But in spite of numerous reports pointing to a broader culture of sexual harassment at the network, the inquiry was reportedly never expanded beyond Ailes. Fox got its “revenue machine back on track” and tried to move on, as Vanity Fair put it.

    But in promoting Ailes’ proteges to replace him, the network exposed itself and its employees to more of the same behavior.

    Soon after Ailes’ removal, Fox paid former on-air personality Juliet Huddy “a sum in the high six figures” not to sue the network after her lawyers sent Fox a letter alleging that she had been sexually harassed by host Bill O’Reilly, The New York Times reported today. The details are grotesque, and this is not the first time O’Reilly has been accused of such behavior.

    But the allegations extend beyond the network’s biggest star. The same letter reportedly indicated that Abernethy “had retaliated against [Huddy] professionally after she made clear that she was not interested in a personal relationship.”

    Shine has yet to be publicly accused of the same behavior. But he reportedly played a key role in keeping similar accusations from exploding into the public eye.

    New York magazine writer Gabriel Sherman -- the leading source on the Ailes scandal -- said that Shine “played an integral role in the cover up of these sexual harassment claims.” He explained on CNN that Shine “pushed women into confidential mediation, signing nondisclosure agreements in exchange for their contracts to be paid.” Other reporters confirmed hearing from Fox sources that Shine had known of Ailes’ misconduct.

    Since the initial accusations came out against Ailes, news reports have indicated that he was only part of the problem. At least a dozen other women told the Times in July they had experienced sexual harassment or intimidation at Fox, with many of them citing supervisors other than Ailes.

    It’s long past time for Fox to commission a real, independent investigation into its culture of sexual harassment. The network’s women should not have to live in fear of retribution from executives and hosts seeking sexual relationships.

  • Bill O’Reilly: “I’m Not Interested In” Allegations Of Sexual Harassment At Fox Because It “Makes My Network Look Bad”

    O'Reilly: "I've Got A Kids Book That I Want Millions Of Kids To Look At. That's What I'm Interested In, Not Making My Network Look Bad."

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN

    Fox News host Bill O’Reilly lashed out when asked about fellow Fox host Megyn Kelly’s allegations in her new book that she was sexually harassed by former Fox CEO Roger Ailes, saying, “I'm not interested in making my network look bad.” O’Reilly, who himself once settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with a Fox employee, insisted that Fox is “a good place to work.”

    On the November 15 edition of CBS This Morning, O’Reilly was asked about Kelly’s book, in which she describes being sexually harassed by Ailes. O’Reilly initially responded calmly, calling Kelly smart and saying he hadn’t read the book, but he became agitated and defensive when pressed by CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell about the sexual harassment allegations. O’Reilly insisted that Fox is “a good place to work,” said that he’s “not interested in basically litigating something that is finished,” and he’s “not going to buy into let’s use the Fox News Channel as a piñata.” From CBS This Morning:

    BILL O'REILLY: I want to be very candid here, I'm not that interested in this.

    GAYLE KING (CO-HOST): No?

    O'REILLY: No, I mean, it’s over for me.

    NORAH O’DONNELL (CO-HOST): In sexual harassment? You’re not interested in sexual harassment?

    ​O'REILLY: I’m not interested in basically litigating something that is finished, that makes my network look bad. OK? I'm not interested in making my network look bad. At all. That doesn't interest me one bit.

    O'DONNELL: Is that what she's doing?

    ​O'REILLY: I don’t know, but I’m not going to even bother with it. I've got a country that's in a transition, political transition. All right? I've got a kids book that I want millions of kids to look at. That's what I'm interested in, not making my network look bad.

    ​[...]

    O’REILLY: Look, it's open season, let's whack the Fox News Channel. I've had enough of it. It's a good place to work, all right? We do good work. We do honest work there. So, I'm not going to buy into let’s use the Fox News Channel as a piñata. I don’t think it’s right.

    O’Reilly was one of many Fox personalities who defended Ailes in the wake of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former host Gretchen Carlson in July, saying in an interview, “I stand behind Roger 100 percent,” and calling Carlson’s lawsuit “frivolous.” After Ailes resigned amid building public pressure, O’Reilly falsely claimed that he hadn’t commented on the sexual harassment claims against Ailes.

    Since Ailes’ resignation, it has become clear that sexual harassment is an institutional problem at the network. Kelly was one of over two dozen women who came forward after Carlson filed her lawsuit alleging that they had been harassed by Ailes. Former host Andrea Tantaros also filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, naming not only Ailes, but several high-level executives and the Fox News Channel as defendants. Tantaros claimed that her “tenure at Fox News devolved into a nightmare of sexual harassment by Ailes, Fox News’s then-President, and others, followed by retaliation by Ailes and others despite multiple ongoing complaints by Tantaros.” One of the Fox executives named as a defendant in Tantaros’ suit was Bill Shine, who, according to the lawsuit, responded to Tantaros’ complaint that she was being harassed by telling her “that Ailes was a ‘very powerful man’ and that Tantaros ‘needed to let this one go.’” Shine was promoted to co-president of Fox News after Ailes’ resignation.

    The New York Times reported in July that Fox News has “a broader problem in the workplace” that went beyond Ailes. According to the Times, about a dozen women “said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment or intimidation at Fox News or the Fox Business Network, and half a dozen more who said they had witnessed it. Two of them cited Mr. Ailes and the rest cited other supervisors.”

    O’Reilly himself settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by then-Fox producer Andrea Mackris in 2004, which alleged that O’Reilly made “a series of explicit phone calls to her, advised her to use a vibrator and told her about sexual fantasies involving her.” O’Reilly reportedly settled the lawsuit for “anywhere from $2 million to $10 million.” O'Reilly was also named in Tantaros' suit, though he was not listed as a defendant. She alleged that he sexually harassed her by "asking her to come to stay with him on Long Island where it would be 'very private,'" and by "telling her on more than one occasion that he could 'see [her] as a wild girl,' and that he believed that she had a 'wild side.'”

  • Will Fox News Let Megyn Kelly Discuss Her Allegations Against Roger Ailes On-Air?

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    While promoting the release of her upcoming memoir on her Fox News show, Megyn Kelly has remained silent on her reported allegations in the book that she was sexually harassed and assaulted by network founder and former CEO Roger Ailes. This raises questions about whether the network will allow Kelly to discuss these allegations on their airwaves.

    During the November 3 edition of her Fox News show, Kelly noted a last-minute revision she made to her forthcoming autobiography, Settle For More, about former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who is currently under investigation for an alleged inappropriate relationship with an underage girl. She also highlighted the “many contentious exchanges” with Weiner throughout her time as a Fox News host.

    But Kelly did not mention the news that broke earlier that day about the book: Kelly reportedly reveals “explosive new charges against the network’s founder, Roger Ailes." In her book, Kelly claims Ailes “tried to sexually assault her in his New York office and hinted she would be fired when she ‘pushed him away’” according to Radar Online, which received an advance copy. Kelly claims she “was approached several times, and several times I refused,” and Ailes’ harassment didn’t stop until she reported him to her supervisor:

    Kelly claims in the book that he started to harass her, too, in the summer of 2005, a few months after she was hired as a legal correspondent in Fox’s Washington bureau.

    She writes that she was informed by her managing editor that she’d “captured the attention of Mr. Ailes” and she was summoned to the first of a series of meetings in his Manhattan office.

    “Roger began pushing the limits,” she alleges. “There was a pattern to his behavior. I would be called into Roger’s office, he would shut the door, and over the next hour or two, he would engage in a kind of cat-and-mouse game with me — veering between obviously inappropriate sexually charged comments (e.g. about the ‘very sexy bras’ I must have and how he’d like to see me in them) and legitimate professional advice.”

    He offered to advance her career “in exchange for sexual favors,” she writes, and even though she says she rejected “every single one,” she claims he tried “physical advances.”

    But in January 2006, she claims, he “crossed a new line — trying to grab me repeatedly and kiss me on the lips.” When she shoved him away, she alleges, “he asked me an ominous question: ‘When is your contract up?’ And then, for the third time, he tried to kiss me.”

    The Wall Street Journal, Fox News' corporate cousin, confirmed Radar Online's report. 

    Roger Ailes, the former chairman and CEO of Fox News, resigned his position at Fox following allegations from multiple women of sexual harassment and assault by the executive. Former host Gretchen Carlson first accused Ailes of “sexual harassment/retaliation” in a lawsuit after being abruptly fired by the network. Dozens of women have since accused Ailes of similar harassment, including Kelly. While these claims have been widely reported by the media, Fox has remained mostly silent about the reports of harassment on their airwaves, which speaks to the culture of sexism and misogyny at the network.

  • After Caught Bragging About Sexual Assault, Man Will Talk With Different Man Facing Sexual Harassment Allegations

    A Donald Trump Interview Will Air On The O’Reilly Factor, On A Network That Ousted Its Founder Over Decades Of Alleged Sexual Harassment

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who was recently accused of sexual harassment by former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros, announced “a Factor world exclusive” with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who would give his “first interview after the debate and the Access Hollywood situation,” referring to a tape in which Trump admitted to committing sexual assault, to The O’Reilly Factor

    On October 7, MSNBC released video of Donald Trump bragging that his star power allowed him to do whatever he wants to women, with or without their consent. While members of the media condemned Trump’s comments, noting that he was admitting to “sexual assault,” O’Reilly rushed to dismiss the tape as “guy talk,” instead choosing to attack The Washington Post.

    In his first televised appearance since news of the tape broke, Trump has continued his retreat to Fox News, choosing to speak with O’Reilly who was recently accused of sexual harassment by Tantaros who alleges that O’Reilly invited her to a “very private” stay on Long Island with him and had posited on more than one occasion that she was “wild.”

    Furthermore, in 2004 O’Reilly was the subject of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by then-Fox producer Andrea Mackris, which alleged that O’Reilly made “a series of explicit phone calls to her, advised her to use a vibrator and told her about sexual fantasies involving her.” O’Reilly settled the lawsuit in 2004. According to CBS, “The New York Daily News, citing unidentified sources, reported that O'Reilly had agreed to pay Mackris anywhere from $2 million to $10 million."

    Beyond accusations leveled at O’Reilly, Fox News itself has recently come under intense criticism for a pervasive culture of sexual harassment. On July 6, former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment suit against then-Fox CEO, and current Trump adviser, Roger Ailes. Carlson alleged that Ailes fired her after she rebuffed several unwanted sexual advances. Carlson’s lawsuit led other women at Fox to come forward with similar allegations, culminating in Ailes’ resignation from the network 15 days later. Following the ouster of Ailes, Fox News promoted Bill Shine, an executive who helped cover up Ailes’ decades of abuse, which others said demonstrated that sexual harassment “is pervasive at Fox” and their internal investigation was little more than a PR stunt

  • Roger Ailes Conspicuously Absent From Fox News' 20th Anniversary Celebration

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Fox News Channel, which launched on October 7, 1996, celebrated its 20th anniversary Friday and mentioned the occasion on at least seven different news shows throughout the day. The anniversary tributes included a video featuring two top executives, but notably neglected to mention Fox News founder Roger Ailes.

    The former Fox executive was recently ousted from the network due to multiple claims of sexual harassment from female colleagues and subordinates over many years. Ailes is currently advising Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, whose candidacy is now in crisis over a 2005 recording of the nominee boasting about sexual assault that was coincidentally released by The Washington Post on Fox News’ anniversary date.

    Because the disturbing testimonies from former Fox hosts Gretchen Carlson and Andrea Tantaros, and various other women at the network, about their horrific experiences with Ailes were met with criticism by many who work there, it is not a surprise that Fox would whitewash the channel’s history. For example, prime-time host Bill O’Reilly, who is known for providing cover for Ailes, notably ignored the founder’s principal role in building the outlet. From the October 7 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:

    This obvious channel-wide omittance did not go unnoticed in the media. The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple reported that the website commemorating Fox News’ 20th anniversary featured top Fox executives Lachlan Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch but failed to mention the channel’s founder Roger Ailes. From the October 7 report (emphasis original):

    This took some doing: 21st Century Fox is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Fox News without even mentioning the founder of Fox News, Roger Ailes. The tribute appears on the website of 21st Century Fox, the cable news network’s parent company, and includes a brief video in which Lachlan Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch, top executives of the company, look back on the world-beating organization that Ailes launched in 1996.

    “Fox News came from a point of view of we can do this better,” says Lachlan Murdoch, the company’s executive chairman, in a video. “We can make news more interesting. We can tell stories better. We can tell them with more energy and more color.” Rupert Murdoch notes that he was “very lucky in the people I found. Now it’s … probably our single-biggest profit-maker as an individual channel.”

    Bolding added to highlight what has to be a reference to Ailes, the now-76-year-old Republican strategist-turned-television executive who drove Fox News programming decisions with resourcefulness, ruthlessness and shamelessness.

    Despite Fox’s best efforts to hush the news around Ailes’ misconduct, the outlet’s own history of hate, misogyny, and smears speaks volumes about its forgotten creator.

  • As Donald Trump Retreats To Fox News, Will Anyone Challenge His Misogyny?

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    As the presidential campaign reaches its closing stages, Republican nominee Donald Trump is retreating to Fox News. As Trump's recent attacks on former Miss Universe Alicia Machado have shown, real journalists should press Trump on is his long track record of misogyny. Here are just a few examples:

    But rather than confront Trump, Fox News hosts sit with their heads down as the GOP nominee makes wildly unhinged misogynistic statements. And when he's not on air, Fox News personalities make excuses for him. It's no wonder: not only is there a culture of misogyny at Fox News, but the person responsible for instituting that culture is now advising Trump. Of course, you would never hear about that on Fox News.

  • New Fox Chief Who Allegedly Covered Up Ailes’ Sexual Harassment Signs Multi-Year Deal

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Fox News

    Fox News announced today that co-president Bill Shine has signed a new multi-year contract. Shine reportedly “played an integral role in the cover up” of sexual harassment allegations against former chief Roger Ailes, which led critics to point out that Ailes departure did not indicate a change in culture at the network following Shine’s promotion.

    Rupert Murdoch announced the new Shine contract in a September 14 press release in which he praised Shine for his role in the Fox’s “continued dominance in the ratings and historic earnings performance” and said that the deal ensured “stability and leadership to guide the network for years to come.”

    Former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson recently settled after suing Ailes last month for sexual harassment. Her lawsuit spurred numerous other women to come forward with similar claims against Ailes and an internal investigation of Ailes’ actions that led to his resignation but reportedly did not examine “the broader culture of Fox News.”

    New York magazine writer Gabriel Sherman -- the leading source on the Ailes scandal -- previously reported that Shine “played an integral role in the cover up of these sexual harassment claims,” including “play[ing] a role in rallying the women to speak out against Roger Ailes’ accusers.” Sherman also reported that Shine played a key role in the silencing and “smearing” of “Rudi Bakhtiar, who says she was fired from Fox News after complaining about sexual harassment.” Shine also reportedly played a role in the handling of Laurie Luhn, a former booker who reportedly received a $3.15 million severance agreement and was allegedly “sexually harassed and ‘psychologically tortured’ by Roger Ailes for more than 20 years.”

    Former Fox host Andrea Tantaros also filed a lawsuit last month alleging sexual harassment and retaliation against Shine, Fox News, and Ailes. According to the complaint, when Tantaros met with Shine seeking “relief from Ailes’s sexual harassment and [Fox News publicist Irena] Briganti’s retaliatory media vendetta against her," Shine “told Tantaros that Ailes was a ‘very powerful man’ and that Tantaros ‘needed to let this one go.’”

    Media Matters President Bradley Beychok released the following statement last month after Fox News announced that the network was promoting Shine to co-president:

    "Fox News has an obligation to take allegations of sexual harassment seriously--  for the sake of its staff, and also for its audience. That is why Media Matters launched a petition calling on the network to release the findings of its internal review. The announcement that Bill Shine, who multiple reporters have linked to Ailes' harassment, will serve as co-president of Fox News is a disappointing signal that 21st Century Fox may not be ready to take serious the allegations and to end its culture of sexism and misogyny."

     
  • Confirmed: Fox News’ Sexual Harassment Investigation Was Just A PR Offensive

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Vanity Fair reported that the internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, launched after former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Ailes, has concluded with a $20 million settlement and a public apology, but without examining “the broader culture of Fox News.” This “relatively swift closure to an ugly chapter,” as Vanity Fair put it, shows that the probe was little more than a pseudo-investigation. The magazine noted that in some ways, it "simply got a revenue machine back on track." And that confirms previous concerns about the impartiality of the investigation, which was handled by Fox News’ parent company.

    After Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit on July 6 against then-Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, Fox’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, retained the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to lead an internal investigation into the claims.

    Some questioned the “firm's independence” and ability to investigate the allegations with impartiality. As The New York Times reported, describing the Paul, Weiss investigation “as an ‘independent’ review commissioned by the company’s board … is not correct” because “The firm was retained by 21st Century Fox not only to investigate but also to provide legal advice.” The Times noted that a “true independent review would preclude legal advice.”

    As the investigation proceeded behind closed doors, media outlets reported that the “harassment and intimidation” inside Fox News “went beyond Mr. Ailes and suggested a broader problem in the workplace.” New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that Fox executives -- including Ailes deputy Bill Shine, who has since been promoted to co-president of Fox News -- were aware of Ailes’ alleged sexual harassment of Fox News employees and said some helped the former network chairman and CEO “cover up” his actions.

    But as news broke that Carlson and 21st Century Fox settled the suit, Vanity Fair reported that “the Paul, Weiss investigation … never officially expanded to examine the broader culture of Fox News.” According to Vanity Fair, Paul, Weiss “was apparently never ordered to scour the company’s hard drives for all evidence of sexual harassment or bawdy culture.”

    The settlement punctuates an important chapter in the Ailes scandal. While the Paul, Weiss investigation interviewed more than 20 women, according to two sources familiar with the process, it never officially expanded to examine the broader culture of Fox News. The firm, according to numerous people familiar with the process, was apparently never ordered to scour the company’s hard drives for all evidence of sexual harassment or bawdy culture. In some ways, according to one person familiar with the process, the Paul, Weiss investigation simply got a revenue machine back on track.

    As New Yorker contributing editor Jeannie Suk Gersen wrote: "“Unlike what reportedly happened around Ailes, neither an employee’s supervisor nor the person being accused of harassment should have any control over an investigation.”

    Given that Fox News has for years cultivated a toxic atmosphere of misogyny and sexism, and given reporting about the widespread culture of sexual harassment at the network that went beyond Ailes, Media Matters launched a petition calling on 21st Century Fox to publicly release the findings of the internal review. Though now those findings may be spurious, given the narrow scope of the investigation.