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Fox News has continued its campaign to defend the network’s chairman and CEO Roger Ailes from sexual harassment allegations, most recently reaching out to Mediaite to interview three female contributors who denied the allegations made by former host Gretchen Carlson.
Former Fox News host Carlson filed a lawsuit against Ailes alleging that he fired her “after she rebuffed Mr. Ailes’ sexual advances and also tried to challenge what she felt was unequal treatment of her in the newsroom by some of her male colleagues.” Carlson also alleged that while a host of Fox & Friends, her co-host Steve Doocy “engaged in a pattern of severe and pervasive mistreatment” against Carlson. Incidents of sexism against Carlson have been well documented on live television, and Carlson has been a witness to years of on-air sexism from her male colleagues.
While several other women have come forward with complaints or contacted Carlson’s law firm, numerous Fox figures have rallied to Ailes’ defense, including primetime hosts Greta Van Susteren and Sean Hannity. The Five host Kimberly Guilfoyle also responded to the allegations, asserting that “nobody believed” Carlson’s allegations.
According to Mediaite, Fox News reached out to them, offering the outlet interviews with three women who work with Ailes in New York City. Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt, Martha MacCallum, and Harris Faulkner vigorously defended Ailes, calling him a “father figure,” a “terrific boss,” and claiming that Carlson’s lawsuit “brought people together” in support of Ailes:
Faulkner praised him for his pep talks, his ability to follow up on every promise he makes, and, finally, his willingness to stand behind his employees, which Carlson claimed he never did for her. Faulkner, who is a woman of color, explained where her deep respect for Ailes came from like this:
“Here’s what I know: My rise and success have been a direct result of the merits and fabulous opportunities from mentors, including Roger Ailes. Without him, my journey would be quite different. He has changed the arc of my career. He believed in me when people who looked like me were not in network news. He put me in primetime and included me in the process of developing Outnumbered. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunities he gave me and not once have I ever been ashamed to say these five words: Roger Ailes believes in me.”
Earhardt called him a “father figure” not once, but twice. She also revealed that when Carlson’s lawsuit hit the headlines, she called her bosses and told them that if the need arose, she would be happy to speak out in support of Ailes because she simply believes in him that much. One reason for her ardent support of him is simple: Where most working women are afraid to tell their bosses they are pregnant and fear losing their jobs while away on maternity leave, Ailes gave Earhardt a promotion while she was gone on her leave.
“Roger is such a terrific boss,” mused MacCallum. “I don’t like to see anything that reflects negatively on him. If anything, [Carlson’s lawsuit] sort of bonded us. It’s brought people together.”
New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman predicted that the “Fox News PR machine” would fight the sexual harassment allegations, noting that Ailes and Fox “will try to discredit Carlson’s claims and any of the other women’s claims who come forward.” Sherman also reported that the charges “could be curtains for Ailes.”
Fox has also downplayed the story on-air. Fox’s first report on the allegations only included Ailes’ statement denying the allegations and Fox’s MediaBuzz -- a show dedicated to coverage of the media world -- only dedicated a three-minute segment to the scandal and defended Ailes by attacking Carlson’s ratings.