Roger Ailes

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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]

  • Why The Murdochs Have To Clean House At Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Butts being grabbed, women being kissed against their will, female employees being ogled at work, promotions being offered in exchange for sex, and the looming threat of being fired for anyone who complained about the degrading harassment.

    Is it just me, or does the recent ugly portrait of Fox News these days in the wake of Roger Ailes’ departure amidst allegations of sexual harassment sound more like a caricature of a sexist work environment at a record company in the 1970s than it does at a news outlet in the 21st century? Not to mention a conservative news outlet that has branded itself the champion of wholesome, Republican values for years. As Fox News’ own Howard Kurtz conceded, “this has been a painful and embarrassing period for the network."

    Indeed. “Current and former employees described instances of harassment and intimidation that went beyond Mr. Ailes and suggested a broader problem in the workplace,” The New York Times reported. “The Times spoke with about a dozen women who 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.”

    Fox News’ July fiasco first detonated on the sixth when former anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against former network chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. Since then, it’s been a steady stream of allegations aired in the press as current and former employees speak out.

    Ailes was shown the door on July 21, but the stain remains. And that’s why Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, who have taken oversight of Fox News, need to clean house.

    On Monday it was reported that longtime Fox News executive Michael Clemente had left the network. His exit was approved by the Murdochs, according to CNN’s Dylan Byers. Byers added, “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.”

    For now, James and Lachlan are saying all the right things about wanting to fix Fox News: “We continue our commitment to maintaining a work environment based on trust and respect. We take seriously our responsibility to uphold these traditional, long-standing values of our company.”

    And to their credit, they quickly hired an outside law firm to investigate harassment allegations. The looming question now is, how do the Murdochs deal with the alleged pattern of abuse? Do they hope the story fades away with Ailes’ departure, or do they actually try to make Fox News a place where women feel comfortable working?

    New York’s Gabriel Sherman noted over the weekend that according to people he had spoken to inside the company, “the only way to change the Fox News culture is to move out all of the executives that Ailes had elevated into positions of power.” And he’s right, in part because some of those Ailes-affiliated executives reportedly tried to defend their boss this month by getting Fox hosts to disparage Carlson and her harassment claims.

    The sheer number of allegations swirling around Fox News, as recently reported by New YorkNew York Timesand The Washington Post (among others), remains startling.

    According to a former staffer, Ailes made “jokes that he liked having women on their knees.” Women did not want to be alone with Ailes in closed-door meetings. Ailes allegedly grabbed the buttocks of a young intern in 2002 after she rebuffed his sexual advances. One former employee says Ailes tried to kiss her in 2004, after telling her, “Do you know how to play the game?” According to Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit, he told her in 2015, “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago.” And at a company picnic, Ailes allegedly asked a former “rising star at the network” if she was wearing “panties” while she jumped on a trampoline. 

    But it wasn’t just Ailes.

    Former correspondent Rudi Bakhtiar has detailed how she was fired after she complained that Fox News’ then-D.C. bureau chief offered her a promotion if she agreed to sleep with him. (“I’d like to see the inside of your hotel room.”)

    Meanwhile, Fox News managers tried to set up their employees on dates with their superiors. One current employee alleged a supervisor said she could work on a new assignment if she agreed to give him oral sex.

    And of course in 2004, Bill O’Reilly was accused of sexual harassment by a former producer. The harassment came in the form O’Reilly diving into detailed discussions with a female employee about masturbation, climaxing, and shower fantasies. (The case was quickly settled out of court.)

    Your move, Murdochs.

    The behind-the-scenes story being told is that the Murdoch sons have been embarrassed by Ailes and Fox News for years and have been trying to oust the entrenched chief from his corner office. “This is not principally about sexual harassment,” Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff told the Washington Post. “This is an internal coup.”

    Noted Financial Review columnist Neil Chenoweth, based in Murdoch’s home country of Australia, “It looked like an excuse to dump Ailes, for the minor Murdochs to have their revenge.”

    Now that the sons have finally succeeded, thanks to the threat of outside legal action, are they going to simply remove Ailes, read an outside investigation about rampant sexual harassment allegations, shelve the lecherous findings, and carry on without any kind of radical shift in leadership? It doesn’t seem possible that just one man was responsible for that much alleged harassment.

    Meaning, if James and Lachlan make no concerted effort to fix the widespread problems facing the women working at Fox News, that means James and Lachlan will soon own that problem and that stigma.

    I’m under no illusions Murdoch and his sons will start poaching top scribes from the New York Times or National Public Radio and clean away the dreck and the sludge that now line the editorial halls at Fox News. Boss Murdoch has made his career peddling ugly lies and marketing falsehoods, and he’s happy to make a buck playing the partisan game.

    So no, I don’t expect Fox News to become a beacon of journalism anytime soon. But it's hard to justify allowing Fox News to continue to reward an outdated, hands-on, Mad Men culture. 

  • 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.

  • New Yorker’s David Remnick: The GOP Convention “Was Like A Four-Day-Long Fox-Fest”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    New Yorker editor David Remnick detailed the nexus between the messaging of Fox News and that of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in his comments at the GOP convention, explaining that Trump “adopted Fox rhetoric, Fox fury, and Fox standards of truth and falsehood” along with his own “Trumpian nativist flair.”

    Trump has a long relationship with Fox News and Fox News personalities. This close relationship led Trump to receive nearly double the airtime of any other candidate on the channel during the Republican primary. Trump’s camaraderie with Fox was criticized by conservative commentators who labeled the network a “Donald Trump super PAC,” while other media figures have highlighted Fox News’ role in the rise of Trump.

    In an article that will appear in the August 1 issue of The New Yorker, editor David Remnick pointed to the Republican National Convention, which he described as “a four-day-long Fox-fest, full of fearmongering, demagoguery, xenophobia, third-rate show biz, pandering, and raw anger,” as evidence of the relationship between Trump and former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. From the article:

    The Ailes-Trump relationship has been turbulent, roiled by the differences of large narcissisms—two immense egos competing for the same ideological berth. Last year, Trump moodily boycotted Ailes’s network, complaining that Megyn Kelly, as a debate moderator, had unreasonably quoted back to him some of his most memorable descriptions of half of humanity: “fat pigs,” “slobs,” “disgusting animals.” Nevertheless, Trump, who admits that he reads almost nothing and gets his information from “the shows,” adopted Fox rhetoric, Fox fury, and Fox standards of truth and falsehood, all with a dollop of Trumpian nativist flair. The Republican Convention in Cleveland last week was like a four-day-long Fox-fest, full of fearmongering, demagoguery, xenophobia, third-rate show biz, pandering, and raw anger. By comparison, Nixon in ’68 was Adlai Stevenson murmuring sonnets at a library luncheon.

    [...]

    Still, Ailes could take paternal pride in Trump’s acceptance speech. The nominee began with a phrase about “generosity and warmth” (barked, it’s true, as if some kind of threat), but—untethered to statistics or facts, and with his inner volume dialled past eleven—Trump went on to portray a country facing a Clinton legacy of “death, destruction, and weakness,” a nation of lawless immigrants roaming cities and towns, “chaos” in the streets, radical Islamic terrorists opposed by nothing but a pusillanimous government and its popgun military.

    [...]

    The reckoning was long overdue. Ailes’s most ominous political spawn, however, has so far evaded accountability. Ivanka Trump introduced her father by reminding the Convention of the tremendous “sacrifice” he had made to take a leave from his business to run for office. Now, having conquered “the party of Lincoln,” the most dangerous candidate for the White House in generations is hoping to win on a platform of paranoia. We hear sirens in the night.

     
  • Report: Sexual Harassment At Fox News Goes Way Beyond Roger Ailes

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Following the ousting of former Fox CEO Roger Ailes amid allegations that he sexually harassed former network anchor Gretchen Carlson, The New York Times reported that a culture of sexual harassment and intimidation in Fox News may extend beyond Ailes. According to the Times, interviews with current and former Fox News employees revealed “instances of harassment and intimidation that went beyond Mr. Ailes and suggested a broader problem in the workplace.”

    On July 21, Fox News’ parent company announced that Ailes would be resigning his position at Fox News but would receive $60 million and continue to work “as a consultant” with 21st Century Fox. Ailes’ ousting from the company follows a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. According to The Washington Post, 25 women have come forward to make similar harassment claims against Ailes.

    The New York Times reported on July 23 that Fox News may have “a broader problem in the workplace,” that extends beyond Ailes after at least “a dozen women” told the Times that “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.” From the Times’ report:

    The investigation by Fox News’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, focused narrowly on Mr. Ailes. But in interviews with The New York Times, current and former employees described instances of harassment and intimidation that went beyond Mr. Ailes and suggested a broader problem in the workplace.

    The Times spoke with about a dozen women who 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. With the exception of Ms. Bakhtiar, they all spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing embarrassment and fear of retribution. Most continue to work in television and worry that speaking out could damage their careers.

    They told of strikingly similar experiences at Fox News. Several said that inappropriate comments about a woman’s appearance and sex life were frequent. Managers tried to set up their employees on dates with superiors.

    [...]

    The women interviewed by The Times described similarly troubling experiences at Fox News and the Fox Business Network, a sprawling operation with about 2,000 employees on several floors of News Corporation’s headquarters on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan.

    The networks were run with an iron fist by Mr. Ailes, the founding chairman and a former Republican strategist, who established the channels as a lucrative profit center and an influential voice in conservative politics.

    [...]

    It is difficult to know exactly how much Mr. Ailes set the tone. The investigation into his conduct revealed findings troubling enough to compel 21st Century Fox executives to move quickly and arrange his exit. Beyond inappropriate language, Mr. Ailes was also accused by employees of kissing and intimate physical contact, according to three people briefed on the investigation, and of making propositions that included quid pro quo arrangements.

    [...]

    Female staff members told of problems with other supervisors as well. One current employee said that she was with a male supervisor in a closed-door, one-on-one meeting in 2009 when she asked to work on an assignment. He turned to her and said, “Sure,” then conditioned it on oral sex. The woman said she laughed it off, thinking that she would face retaliation and be demoted if she told him that the comment was inappropriate.

  • Washington Post Reports 25 Women Have Come Forward To Accuse Former Fox CEO Ailes Of Harassment  

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Following a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson against former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, 25 women have come forward to make claims of similar harassment against Ailes, according to a July 22 report from The Washington Post.

    On July 21, Fox News’ parent company announced that Ailes would be resigning his position at Fox News but would receive $60 million in a “consultant” position with 21st Century Fox.  

    The Washington Post highlighted the “locker room” mentality at Fox News, alongside new allegations in a July 22 article which reports there are now 25 women accusing Ailes of misconduct and harassment, dating back decades:

    News of Carlson’s firing, and the lawsuit she filed shortly thereafter, have now prompted 25 women to come forward with what they describe as similar harassment claims against Ailes that stretch across five decades back to his days in the 1960s as a young television producer, according to Carlson’s attorney, Nancy Erika Smith.

    Interviews with four of those women portray the 76-year-old television powerhouse as a man who could be routinely crude and inappropriate, ogling young women, commenting about their breasts and legs, and fostering a macho, insensitive culture. Among those who agreed to interviews is a 2002 Fox intern who spoke for the first time about her accusation that Ailes grabbed her buttocks and repeatedly propositioned her.

    […]

    The signals sent by Ailes were quickly picked up by the employees, the former staffer said. Some women began showing up to news meetings in short skirts and blouses that showed their cleavage.

    “It became common knowledge that women did not want to be alone with him,” the former staffer said. “They would bring other men with them when they had to meet him. It became a locker room, towel-snapping environment. He would say things like, ‘She’s really got the goods’ and ‘look at the t--s on that one.’ ”

    Sometimes, the former staffer said, Ailes made “jokes that he liked having women on their knees. The tone he set went through the organization.”