Roger Ailes Makes Moves On Female Fox News Host
Fox News was enveloped in silence for most of Wednesday, as news ricocheted around New York and Washington of former host Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit depicting the network’s legendary CEO and chairman Roger Ailes as a pervasive harasser of women.
Under previous legal assaults – including a long-ago sexual harassment claim against the network’s top star, Bill O’Reilly – the network’s defense of itself has been fast and furious.
This time, however, seven hours came and went without word from the network. And when it came, initially from parent network 21st Century Fox, it was a surprise: A promise to conduct an internal investigation of Carlson’s claim that Ailes repeatedly made inappropriate comments about her looks and then declined to renew her contract for refusing to sleep with him. The network also vowed to look into her depiction of her former “Fox & Friends” co-host, Steve Doocy, as a sexist colleague who treated her like “a blond female prop.”
Huffington Post’s Michelle Fields, a former Fox News contributor, published an article on the site Wednesday afternoon citing anonymous sources saying that Ailes was known for making inappropriate remarks about women.
Fields hardly needed anonymous sources for that last bit: Ailes has made public remarks in the course of his career that many classified as sexist. In 1994, appearing on the Don Imus radio show two years before the launch of Fox News, Ailes declared that Mary Matalin and Jane Wallace, co-hosts of CNBC’s “Equal Time,” were like “girls who if you went into a bar around seven, you wouldn’t pay a lot of attention, but [they] get to be 10s around closing time.”
At the time, Ailes was an executive at CNBC, and the network defended the remarks as appropriate in the context of a comedy show like Imus. Wallace did not agree.
“He had no right to say something like that,” she later told Gabriel Sherman, author of a 2014 unauthorized biography of Ailes. “He was our boss. It was completely sexist. It was disgusting. It was outrageous. I thought it was a hideously awful thing to say.” But she did not take the matter up with Ailes. “I didn’t say so out loud, I was working for the guy.”