Report: “Existential Crisis” At Fox News As Sexual Harassment Investigation Spreads Beyond Ailes
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Vanity Fair reported that Fox News staffers have expressed growing fears about the network’s future following allegations that former Fox News CEO and current Rupert Murdoch “consultant” Roger Ailes sexually harassed at least 20 women.
In July, former Fox host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit that alleged Ailes fired her after she declined his sexual advances. Since Carlson filed the suit, at least 25 additional women, including Fox host Megyn Kelly and former host Andrea Tantaros, have made similar claims against the former CEO. On July 21, Ailes was forced to resign his position amid an investigation into the claims by parent company 21st Century Fox. Ailes is currently working as a consultant to News Corp. Executive Co-Chairman Rupert Murdoch during a “transition period.”
An August 8 article by Vanity Fair’s Sarah Ellison reports that Fox News staffers fear the network’s future is facing “an existential crisis” following Ailes departure and that employees are “anxious to distance themselves” from their former boss, despite the fact they may soon lose their jobs. Ellison reports that sources say some women alleging sexual harassment claim the issue spread to “individuals beyond Roger Ailes” who were “nonetheless enablers.” From Vanity Fair:
One staffer expressed to me an even greater fear: that, without [Roger] Ailes, Fox News’s future is in an existential crisis.
A sale of Fox News, which generates some $1 billion in annual profit, seems unlikely. A massive culture change, however, seems probable. Some Ailes loyalists who remain affiliated with Fox News find themselves in a particularly difficult spot. They are anxious to distance themselves from him, even as they anticipate their own ouster from the network, a Fox source told me. Several of them, who worked for Ailes in a personal capacity but were on Fox’s payroll, were dismissed last week, according to one senior Fox employee.
But perhaps the biggest object of curiosity in the newsroom these days is the internal investigation currently being conducted by the law firm Paul, Weiss. The investigation originally focused exclusively on Ailes, but as allegations from at least 20 women have mounted—including Gabriel Sherman’s revelation that Fox paid Laurie Luhn, a former booker, $3.15 million in a settlement agreement—it has expanded to other Fox News executives. “A number of the women raised serious issues about individuals beyond Roger Ailes, who, while not as crass as Ailes, were nonetheless enablers,” said one individual briefed on the investigation. “There can be fairly raised a question: whether the atmosphere at Fox is welcoming to women absent wholesale changes in senior leadership.”