Roger Ailes

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  • 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.”


  • 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 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:

  • Roger Ailes Has Resigned From Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    21st Century Fox has announced that Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes is leaving the network. Fox has been conducting an internal review of Ailes’ conduct after former anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him.

    Rupert Murdoch, 21st Century Fox executive chairman, said in a press release that he will take over the role of chairman and acting CEO of Fox News and Fox Business. Murdoch praised Ailes for making “a remarkable contribution to our company and our country. Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years. Fox News has given voice to those who were ignored by the traditional networks and has been one of the great commercial success stories of modern media.”

    The Drudge Report posted an “exclusive” letter from Ailes to Murdoch in which he wrote that he is “proud that we have built Fox News and Fox Business Channels into powerful and lucrative news organizations” and “will not allow my presence to become a distraction.” He added that he looks “forward to continuing to work with you as a consultant in building 21st Century Fox.”

    Ailes also wrote that he takes “particular pride in the role that I have played advancing the careers of the many women I have promoted to executive and on-air positions.”

    Media Matters chairman David Brock released the following statement on July 18 in response to news about Ailes’ impending departure:

    Fox News has been the undisputed champion of sexism and misogyny in the media and as the head of Fox News, it's not shocking that this culture of sexism -- on and off the air -- starts at the top with Roger Ailes.  If this report is accurate, there is a special irony in 21st Century Fox preparing to remove Ailes as the Republican National Convention gets ready to nominate known misogynist Donald Trump, the candidate that Fox News created.

    Media Matters has recently published several pieces about Ailes’ legacy:

    Ailes, Trump, And The Republican Reckoning

    “The End Of This Fox”: Journalists At The Republican Convention React To News Of Ailes’ Likely Departure

    Roger Ailes' Legacy: Building The GOP's Communications Arm Under The Guise Of A "News" Network

    Soon-To-Be-Former Fox CEO Roger Ailes Has A Long History Of Bigotry, Sexism, And Homophobia

    Roger Ailes Built The Conservative Infrastructure That Donald Trump Is Exploiting

    UPDATES: The Hollywood Reporter wrote of Ailes' departure: "Terms of the exit agreement have not been released, but sources say Ailes will walk away with $40 million, which is the remainder left on his contract, which originally extended into 2018. There is also no formal advisory role in the exit agreement, but Ailes will be available to Rupert Murdoch during the transition period. And sources say there is a non-compete clause in the exit agreement, which is standard."

    Following Ailes' official resignation, Media Matters founder David Brock issued the following statement:

    Media Matters has successfully branded Fox News as a network not to be trusted. We combat their on-air falsehoods, sexism, and misogyny daily. While Roger Ailes ultimately went down as a result of his heinous behavior, twelve years of Media Matters calling out his network for outrageous right-wing propaganda and ensuring that millions of people were aware of it in real-time certainly didn't hurt. 

  • Ailes, Trump, And The Republican Reckoning

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Who could have scripted a doomsday scenario for the Republican Party that would feature Fox News' Roger Ailes reportedly being ousted as chief of Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing outlet amidst mounting allegations of sexual harassment, the same week political novice Donald Trump secures the GOP’s nomination?

    Last summer, both seismic conservative events were seen as impossibilities by many observers. Yet they’re now unfolding in plain view and both threatening to do grave and lasting damage to the GOP.

    Ailes and Trump are inexorably linked, and together they’ve become like a two-man wrecking crew, wreaking havoc on the GOP.

    Trump’s been denounced as a "vicious demagogue," a "con man," a "glib egomaniac," and "the very epitome of vulgarity" this year. And that’s been from conservative pundits. The Trump nomination has split the GOP like no election in the last half-century. And Republicans owe it, in part, to Ailes. Fox News for years laid the groundwork for Trump’s radical and improbable run.

    Indeed, without Fox News' exaggerated support over the years, and without Fox providing endless free airtime in the form of promotional blitzes to tout Trump as White House material, it's unlikely Trump today would be perched atop the Republican Party. (Trump rival Sen. Ted Cruz lamented as the primary campaign came to a close that Ailes and Rupert Murdoch had “turned Fox News into the Donald Trump network, 24/7.”)

    The hate and paranoia that has permeated Fox programming, especially during the Barack Obama years, reflects Ailes’ bigoted view of America and its supposed pending doom under Democratic leadership. Like his longtime friend Rush Limbaugh, Ailes has been a cancer on American politics for decades. He’s built a career that thrives on fabrications and falsehoods and character assassination.

    Ailes’ brand of hatred and paranoia, once a small, ugly part of the GOP appeal, is now synonymous with the Republican Party, thanks to its nomination of Trump, who rose to birther fame among conservatives via Ailes’ open door policy in 2011.

    As I’ve argued before, Trump is the Fox News id. The ugly, unvarnished, and unapologetic id of an aging white America that’s determined to “take its country back.” Trump’s a bigoted nativist who markets xenophobia and thrives on dividing Americans.

    Sound familiar?

    Last summer it seemed clear that Trump personified the vulgar brand of divisive rhetoric that Ailes helped hallmark and stood ready to unleash deep damage to the Republican Party.

    That damage has been on display all week at the GOP’s Trump convention in Cleveland. How did the Republicans arrive at such a bankrupt place, and who helped lead them down the obvious dead end? Roger Ailes, who years ago began wearing two hats, that of Fox News programming chief, and acting shadow chairman of the RNC. (Ailes reportedly told executives in 2010 that he wanted “to elect the next president.”) And for years, Republican bosses cheered the arrangement, happily abdicating party leadership to an increasingly unhinged group of Fox News talkers and the free airtime they delivered.

    Four years ago, during the Republican primary season, in a column headlined “How Fox News Is Destroying the Republican Party,” I noted:

    For Ailes and company, that slash-and-burn formula works wonders in terms of super-serving its hardcore, hard-right audience of three million viewers. But in terms of supporting a serious, national campaign and a serious, national conversation? It’s not working. At all … It’s what happens when a mainstream political movement embraces a radical media strategy like the one being promoted by Fox News; the movement marches itself off a cliff.

    And that’s exactly what has unfolded this year.

    Since its inception 20 years ago, Ailes has ruled the Fox News fiefdom within Murdoch's sprawling 21st Century Fox media empire and built it into a hugely influential moneymaker. The Ailes fingerprint has been omnipresent. He also instituted a unique culture that thrived on loyalty and secrecy.

    As a former Fox News producer explained it to Media Matters in 2011:

    "There may be internal squabbles. But what [Ailes] continually preaches is never piss outside the tent," says the source. "When he gets really crazy is when stuff leaks out the door. He goes mental on that. He can't stand that. He says in a dynamic enterprise like a network newsroom there's going to be in fighting and ego, but he says keep it in the house."

    There’s been a lot of reporting over the years -- much of it from intrepid Ailes biographer Gabriel Sherman, who has driven a lot of the news on Ailes' pending departure the past couple weeks -- about Ailes’ history of harassment and sexism as an executive. A nagging feeling was that if that behavior ever got fully excavated, Ailes’ Fox News house could crumble.

    And now it is.

    News this week that Megyn Kelly reportedly told outside attorneys hired by 21st Century who were investigating Ailes that he had sexually harassed her years ago meant that Ailes could not survive. He couldn’t survive because for years we’ve known he hasn’t had the support of Rupert Murdoch’s sons, James and Lachlan, who have been apparently eager for a way to oust Ailes.

    As media columnist Michael Wolff once noted, “There are, practically speaking, now two factions inside of News Corp., Ailes and Fox News, and the Murdoch children—with Rupert caught between them.”

    Last year, in a blow to Ailes’ ego and power base, the Murdoch sons made it known that the Fox News boss now answered to them, instead of directly to their father. Still, Ailes’ Fox News printed piles of money that reached so high, and Ailes had built such an impenetrable fiefdom, that he remained untouchable. Just last year Ailes inked a multi-year contract extending his reported $20 million annual salary.

    But the mounting claims of sexual harassment provided a new opening for the Murdoch family to move in and finally root Ailes out of his corner office. As Republicans watch Trump unfold his bizarre and disjointed fall campaign, the one built by Ailes and Fox News, many must be wondering if it’s not too late to stage their own coup.