It seems like it’s been longer, but it’s only been less than two months since the news first broke regarding former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filing a sexual harassment lawsuit alleging that now former network CEO Roger Ailes had sexually harassed her while other male colleagues displayed questionable behavior. At the time I told people that Carlson’s lawsuit was only the beginning because history tells us that situations like this are rarely isolated incidents, and they often open up the floodgates for other people to come forward.
Well, since then, things have not been good for America’s most-watched conservative entertainment network.
Almost immediately following Carlson’s lawsuit being made public, information came out regarding several other women who had contacted her lawyers claiming they, too, were victims of sexual harassment.
Then not too long after Carlson’s lawsuit became a leading story, it was learned that Megyn Kelly told investigators she had also been sexually harassed. This was a huge blow to Ailes’ original defense that Carlson’s lawsuit was based on her being a disgruntled former employee out for revenge.
Within a few days the only CEO Fox News had ever known was basically fired, indicating that these allegations were fairly damning and this situation was far from being over.
Around the same time that Ailes was pushed out, the New York Times published a story concerning other women who had come forward to report sexual harassment and intimidation that went well beyond just Roger Ailes himself.
Well, things just got a whole lot worse for Fox News as former host Andrea Tantaros is suing the network, claiming she was demoted and eventually let go because she rebuked sexual advancements made by Ailes. But her accusations don’t stop there; her suit basically paints Fox News as some sexually out-of-control misogynistic enterprise.
“Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny,” Ms. Tantaros’s suit says.
In April, the chief lawyer for Fox charged that Ms. Tantaros had concocted sexual harassment claims to gain leverage in the contract dispute; her lawyer, Judd Burstein, said the book dispute was a pretext that Fox was using to silence her.
During arbitration, Mr. Burstein said, Fox News offered to pay her a sum “in the seven figures” if she renounced claims against Mr. Ailes and others at the network, including the host Bill O’Reilly. According to the lawsuit, Ms. Tantaros said she had been subjected to unwelcome advances from Mr. O’Reilly, whom she had regarded as a friend and adviser.
“Ailes did not act alone,” the lawsuit states. “He may have been the primary culprit, but his actions were condoned by his most senior lieutenants, who engaged in a concerted effort to silence Tantaros by threats, humiliation and retaliation.”
This is what I was talking about when I said people needed to stop focusing on just Roger Ailes and start realizing that this went well beyond him. If what Tantaros is alleging is true, it clearly indicates that prominent Fox News personalities such as Bill O’Reilly have also engaged in sexual harassment and intimidation.
That really shouldn’t surprise anyone. If a celebrity-like CEO such as Roger Ailes felt he could get away with (and did for 20 years) sexually harassing women, why wouldn’t other people who were working for him?
Clearly I don’t know the internal day-to-day environment of Fox News, but I’ve worked for enough companies to know that bosses, especially CEOs, set the tone for the company. So, if Ailes was so brazenly sexually harassing female employees, it wouldn’t be shocking to see other well-known names at the network face similar accusations as Ailes.
My prediction is that we’re going to see a few more people leave Fox News here in the near future. Depending on how this story plays out, some might abruptly leave (or be pushed out based on accusations we might not even know about as of yet) or they’ll wait until after the election. But I have no doubt that we’re about to see several fairly prominent employees, most likely males, leave the network very soon.
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