Gabriel Sherman

Tags ››› Gabriel Sherman
  • 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.

  • Report: Trump Campaign Sources Say CNN Contributor Corey Lewandowski Is Still Advising Trump 

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    New York magazine reported that sources inside presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign are concerned that former Trump campaign manager turned CNN contributor Corey Lewandowski “will give Trump hard-edged advice that goes against the campaign’s stated plan to soften and humanize the candidate.” Advisers and allies of Trump are reportedly also concerned Lewandowski “could play a wild-card role” during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

    Last month, CNN hired Lewandowski as a contributor days after he was fired from Trump’s campaign. The move drew sharp criticism from media experts, who questioned the network’s ethical solitude after hiring the former campaign manager who was reported to have a hostile and inappropriate relationship with reporters.

    CNN has failed to answer additional ethical questions surrounding Lewandowski’s hire, declining to address the fact that Lewandowski was simultaneously receiving both severance pay from Trump’s campaign and a salary from the network while appearing on-air to campaign for and defend Trump from media criticism. In an open letter to CNN president Jeff Zucker, Media Matters president Bradley Beychok called on Zucker to publicly address questions regarding the hiring of Lewandowski or suspend him from the network.

    In a July 17 article, New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that Trump’s “advisers and allies” have grown more concerned about Lewandowski’s role in the campaign. Sherman reported that “although Trump fired Lewandowski last month,” he has continued to lobby and advise Trump, pushing for the Trump to maintain his “off-the-cuff style” and instructing him not to apologize for a widely criticized tweet depicting Hillary Clinton and the Star of David -- a tweet Lewandowski defended using his CNN platform. From New York magazine's report:

    As the Republican Convention gets underway, advisers and allies of Donald Trump are increasingly concerned that ousted campaign-manager-turned-CNN-pundit Corey Lewandowski could play a wild-card role in Cleveland. Their principal worry: Lewandowski will give Trump hard-edged advice that goes against the campaign’s stated plan to soften and humanize the candidate. “He'll be trying to undermine the campaign leadership by giving Trump bad advice,” longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone said. Another source said, “Corey will be working the convention rivalries into a froth.”

    Although Trump fired Lewandowski last month, the power struggle between Lewandowski and campaign chairman Paul Manafort continues, sources close to the campaign say. Lewandowski is said to have lobbied hard for Trump to pick Chris Christie for vice-president. (Manafort’s choice was Mike Pence.) Lewandowski also told Trump not to hire Manafort’s choice for senior communications adviser, Jason Miller, because “he’s a Cruz guy” and would take power away. 

  • CNN Explores Implications Of Carlson Sexual Harassment Suit, Fox Merely Repeats Ailes' Own Defense (Again)

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Cable news giants Fox News and CNN displayed markedly different approaches to the bombshell allegations of sexual harassment brought by former Fox host Gretchen Carlson against Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. While CNN began investigating the claims made by Carlson and other women previously employed by Fox, the network itself simply reiterated Ailes’ own self-defense before launching a predictable campaign to discredit his accusers.

    On July 6, Carlson announced a “sexual harassment/retaliation lawsuit” against Ailes. Carlson claims that Ailes refused to renew her contract after she rebuffed multiple unwanted sexual advances from him over several years. Ailes is notorious for his sexist behavior and vulgar treatment of women at the network, and six more current and former Fox employees have reportedly contacted Carlson’s law firm alleging they were also sexually harassed by Ailes.

    On July 10, CNN’s Reliable Sources devoted the first half of the hour-long program to discussing the lawsuit and its implications for the future of Ailes and Fox News. Host Brian Stelter interviewed New York magazine correspondent Gabriel Sherman, author of the 2014 Fox exposé The Loudest Voice In The Room, about harassment allegations he uncovered while researching for his book, as well as the veracity of six new allegations against Ailes, which Sherman contended “fit a pattern of behavior” from the Fox News chief. Sherman also predicted that “Fox News’ PR machine” will work to “discredit” Carlson and any other accusers for Ailes, as they have in the past.

    Stelter also hosted NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik to discuss how News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch and his sons, Lachlan and James, are responding to the allegations against Ailes “a little differently” than they have with prior harassment claims against Fox personalities. Folkenflik noted that the Murdochs “have not denied reports that they are hiring outside counsel” to handle the suit, as opposed to past cases involving Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and New York Post editor-in-chief Col Allan, where “they did not appoint an outside counsel” to deal with the complaints. Folkenflik concluded that this move may be tied to “the Murdoch sons' desire for their company to be truly a 21st century company, as opposed to run with the mores of the Don Draper era.”

    Meanwhile, on Fox News’ MediaBuzz, host Howard Kurtz mentioned his former colleague’s lawsuit in a brief, three-minute segment devoted to defending Ailes and attacking Carlson. Kurtz simply read Ailes’ personal statement in response to the lawsuit (as Fox News anchor Shepard Smith already had three days prior), mentioned that Ailes tried to move the suit into internal arbitration, and attacked Gretchen Carlson’s ratings as the real excuse for her termination. Kurtz pointedly refused to cover the story beyond that, dismissing other outlets’ coverage as simply “quoting anonymous sources” in a veiled shot at CNN and New York magazine. 

    Kurtz was the first Fox News reporter to come to Ailes’ defense against the harassment allegations made by Carlson. In the past, Kurtz has attacked Hillary Clinton for acknowledging media treatment that was “petty, sensationalist, often unfair and sometimes mean,” and he defended Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) when the then presidential candidate mocked and shushed CNBC’s Kelly Evans during a critical line of questioning in which he told her to “calm down.” In addition to his long track record of excusing sexist and bullying behavior toward women in the media, Kurtz has his own history of boorish behavior toward women.

  • Sexual Harassment Charge “Could Be Curtains For Ailes” At Fox News

    New York Mag’s Gabriel Sherman: Hiring Of Independent Investigator To Review Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Ailes Could Signal Bad News For Fox CEO

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that the sexual harassment/retaliation lawsuit filed by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes could give 21st Century Fox executives, Lachlan and James Murdoch (sons of Rupert Murdoch)  a way to oust Ailes.

    Sherman quotes executives who believe 21st Century Fox’s hiring of outside counsel to investigate the allegations made against Ailes indicate “a coup” inside the network and that “this could be curtains for Ailes.” Sherman reports that “there are signs that the 76 year-old’s luck may have finally expired”:

    [I]n the wake of Gretchen Carlson’s shocking sexual-harassment lawsuit against Ailes, there are signs that the 76 year-old’s luck may have finally expired.

    On Wednesday, Fox’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, released a terse statement saying it took the allegations “seriously” and is conducting an “internal review of the matter.” The wording and timing of the press release — Ailes had yet to issue his own response, which, when it came, described the lawsuit as “retaliatory” (Carlson was just dropped from Fox) and claimed it would be “vigorously defended” — signal that Ailes’s standing with the Murdochs is precarious.  According to one highly placed Fox source, Murdoch and his sons, Lachlan and James, approved the hiring of an outside lawyer to conduct the independent investigation. While it’s common for large companies to bring in outside counsel to conduct inquiries during public scandals, the move is a radical one for Murdoch. “Unprecedented,” one former senior executive told me. “It’s not Rupert’s style to investigate internal issues.”

    Executives I spoke with over the past 24 hours said the hiring of an outside lawyer is also an indication that Murdoch’s sons may be capitalizing on the Carlson scandal to achieve a long-held goal: forcing Ailes out. “It’s a coup,” one person close to the company told me. If the investigation into Ailes’s management confirms Carlson’s account, or turns up additional episodes of harassment with other Fox women, it stands to reason the Murdoch children would have the leverage they need to push Ailes aside and install a less-right-wing chief. “This could be curtains for Ailes,” another person close to the company said. Indeed, several months after NBC hired an outside counsel in 1995 to investigate Ailes’s alleged anti-Semitic slur, he left NBC.

  • Gretchen Carlson Isn’t Alone: A History Of Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Roger Ailes And Fox News

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes -- alleging he “retaliated against” her because she would not have a “sexual relationship with him” -- is only the latest in a long line of sexual harassment complaints and lawsuits against the network’s executives and on-air personalities.

  • Report: Rupert Murdoch And Fox News All In On Donald Trump

    New York Magazine’s Sherman: Fox Has “Thrown In The Towel” And Won’t “Go After Trump”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In a New York magazine article, Gabriel Sherman reported that Rupert Murdoch, executive co-chairman of Fox News' parent company, “has signaled he plans to fully back Trump in the general election against Hillary Clinton” in “a sharp reversal from the hostile view he held over much of the past year.”

    Sherman noted that Murdoch’s “flip flop” on Trump follows the presumptive Republican nominee’s months-long feud with Fox News in which Trump boycotted a network presidential debate, referred to Fox anchor Megyn Kelly as a “crazy” and “overrated anchor,” and even boycotted the network (for a week). Fox responded to Trump’s actions by openly mocking the candidate and accusing him of having a “sick obsession” with Megyn Kelly. It was also reported in the early days of Trump’s campaign that Murdoch and Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes were fighting over the network’s coverage of the candidate.

    According to Sherman, the network has reportedly “thrown in the towel” and will “go easy on Trump.” Sherman explained “That Murdoch flip flopped on Trump shouldn’t be all that surprising” because he’s repeatedly “sacrificed core principles to forge political alliances that advance his media empire’s interests” and "it’s clear Trump is good for business.” From the May 17 report:

    Call it the media equivalent of Bobby Riggs vs. Billie Jean King: Tonight, Donald Trump finally sits down with his Fox News nemesis Megyn Kelly. The battle between Trump and Fox’s biggest star has been one of the most compelling story lines of the 2016 election, and the subject of much discussion in the run-up to Kelly’s prime-time broadcast special with the GOP frontrunner. But in all the coverage of the Trump-Kelly détente, a more important development has been overlooked: Trump has made peace with Kelly’s boss’s boss, Rupert Murdoch.

    According to a half dozen sources familiar with Murdoch’s thinking, the media mogul has signaled he plans to fully back Trump in the general election against Hillary Clinton. Murdoch’s embrace of Trump is a sharp reversal from the hostile view he held over much of the past year. In fact, according to one high-level Fox source, it was Murdoch himself who directed Kelly to hammer Trump during the debut GOP debate, in Cleveland, that sparked the feud in the first place. “Rupert told her to do that,” the source said.

    [...]
    That Murdoch flip-flopped on Trump shouldn’t be all that surprising. Yes, Trump’s stances on immigration and trade clash with Murdoch’s more moderate views (he's for comprehensive reform and trade deals). But throughout Murdoch’s career, he’s sacrificed core principles to forge political alliances that advance his media empire’s interests (after all, he backed both Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair in the U.K.).

    And it’s clear Trump is good for business. According to one Fox News producer, the channel's ratings dip whenever an anti-Trump segment airs. A Fox anchor told me that the message from Roger Ailes's executives is they need to go easy on Trump. “It’s, ‘Make sure we don't go after Trump,’” the anchor said. “We’ve thrown in the towel.” Similarly, the New York Post has staked out a pro-Trump position in the marketplace while its rival the Daily News remains one of Trump’s loudest critics. The Post endorsed Trump last month and dubbed him “King Don!” after he won the New York primary. (The outlier among Murdoch’s properties is The Wall Street Journal. “They’re stupid people,” Trump told me back in March).

    Murdoch's strategy seems to be a win-win. If Trump gets into the White House, Murdoch will likely have an open line to the new administration (at least as open as anyone can have with Trump). And, if Trump loses to Hillary Clinton, then Murdoch's right-wing outlets have a ready-made enemy to beat up on for the next four years. That's a deal Trump can surely respect.

  • Report: The Trump Campaign Is Tearing Apart Fox News

    NY Mag Highlights Fox's "Confusion" About Trump Coverage And Its Role in 2016 Elections

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH

    New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman highlighted the "confusion" at Fox News about the network's role in the "altered media ecosystem going forward," in particular over the coverage of GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

    Trump has been a regular fixture on Fox News since 2011, which paved the way for his presidential run. The relationship between Trump and Fox became tumultuous following Fox's first GOP primary debate in August 2015, during which moderator Megyn Kelly questioned Trump about his history of sexism. Yet, Fox continued to give Trump more than double the airtime of any other candidate. Trump ultimately skipped Fox's second primary debate in January after the network released a mocking statement in response to his demand that Kelly be removed as a moderator. Fox chairman Roger Ailes and network personalities have since struggled with their coverage of Trump.

    A February 9 article from New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman highlighted the internal "confusion about what role" Fox News "should play in this altered media ecosystem going forward." Sherman argued, "Historically, in moments like this the strategy would be clear: Punish the person who publicly crosses Fox." But as Sherman pointed out, "network boss Ailes has tried that" and Trump has "demonstrated that disregarding Fox News doesn't spell political ruin for a Republican." Sherman also highlighted how the Trump-Kelly spar has now forced Ailes to "broker peace between Fox's biggest stars, Bill O'Reilly and Megyn Kelly":

    With his decisive win in New Hampshire, Donald Trump dashed the GOP Establishment's hope that skipping last month's Fox News debate would sink his campaign. By claiming more than a third of the New Hampshire vote, Trump not only exceeded expectations and more than doubled the vote tally of any of his rivals -- but also demonstrated that disregarding Fox News doesn't spell political ruin for a Republican. The grip that Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, and Co. have held on the GOP for nearly a generation got a little looser Tuesday night.

    Inside Fox there is confusion about what role the network should play in this altered media ecosystem going forward. According to three insiders I spoke to, the channel's hosts and producers are split over how to cover Trump. Historically, in moments like this the strategy would be clear: Punish the person who publicly crosses Fox. But network boss Ailes has tried that, and Trump not only survived the PR assaults, including one last month, but he seems to have emerged stronger than ever. The situation is even more dire because Marco Rubio, a favorite of many high-profile voices at the network, fared badly in the New Hampshire primary, only a few days after political analysts were floating the possibility that he might even beat Trump. Tuesday night, Fox's pundit class had to accept that his robotic performance during ABC's debate may have destroyed his candidacy. Charles Krauthammer even compared it to Ed Muskie's 1972 implosion.

    [...]

    In fact, Ailes's bigger problem this week is not Trump. It's figuring out how to broker peace between Fox's biggest stars, Bill O'Reilly and Megyn Kelly. According to sources, the prime-time hosts are at war, in part over Kelly's Trump-fueled stardom. O'Reilly is said to be outraged that Kelly went on Stephen Colbert's post-Super Bowl show and seemed to criticize his program because it's taped at 5 p.m. and airs at 8 p.m." If you're not live at night -- because the show before me and the show after me are taped -- you lose a lot," she told Colbert, the comedian famous for playing a buffoonish version of O'Reilly for years. O'Reilly has also told people he's furious that Kelly hasn't shown him respect for helping make her Fox's brightest light. Things got so bad that back in September Kelly switched talent agents -- she'd been represented by longtime O'Reilly agent Carole Cooper but left for CAA. "They're at each other's throats big time," one Fox insider said. "I mean, like big time. Roger doesn't know what the hell to do." It's possibly a sign that Murdoch wants to keep Kelly in the fold that last week his book publisher HarperCollins signed her to a reported $10 million book deal.