When news came out that Gretchen Carlson, the former FOX News host, had not only left the network but was also suing then-CEO (now former) Roger Ailes for sexual harassment and retaliation, she faced harsh skepticism from many, including her FOX News colleague Geraldo Rivera.
Rivera was one of the many at FOX News who defended Roger Ailes. Amid reports, however, that recordings exist that prove Carlson’s story to be true and the announcement of a $20 million settlement and apology by parent company 21st Century FOX, Rivera has not only changed his tune, he posted a long, heartfelt message on Facebook lambasting Ailes as a “deceitful, selfish misogynist” and apologizing to Gretchen Carlson.
Roger and Me
The man we knew as the blustering genius who invented our mighty Fox News Channel is a deceitful, selfish misogynist, if the charges against him are true. And if they are true, then his shame and banishment are well earned.
Like virtually all my colleagues at Fox News, I was totally blindsided by his sexual harassment scandal, which is why I responded to Gretchen Carlson’s initial filing of her lawsuit with extreme skepticism. The man she described in her pleadings was unknown even to those of us who thought we knew him well.
Roger and I have known each other for decades. I always pictured him as a hail-fellow well met, a corporate barroom brawler, more likely to tear your throat out than engage in sweet talk, as my first Tweet on the matter indicates.
The tweet in question was posted by Rivera on July 12 after the allegations first became known.
I’ve known him 40 years. He’s about as flirty as the grizzly in #TheRevenant. I stand with Roger Ailes
As you can tell by the beginning of his post, Rivera no longer stands with Ailes.
As he continues his post, he discusses his decades-long professional relationship and friendship with Ailes beginning in 1994 when Ailes was running CNBC and hired Ailes. Around two years later, Ailes would leave that network to help create FOX News. Geraldo joined him in that venture after the Islamic terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
Rivera adds that his defense and support of Ailes stemmed from the personal and professional loyalty that Ailes has had for him through the years. It prompted him to tweet this message while covering the Republican National Convention.
With FOX being the ratings’ leader, Rivera said there is no doubt that the other networks will continue to report obsessively on the allegations of FOX News culture but he adds that such a culture exists all networks from what he has seen in his 47 years of working at each of them at some point.
Although that is understandable, it is not fair. Having worked at all the networks over the last 47 years I can say definitively that the social culture is industry wide. Our rivals would all be better served to clean their own houses.
At the end of his post, Geraldo offers an apology to all victims of sexual harassment and encourages people who witness it to speak up even if, like in his case, the alleged perpetrator is an old and dear friend.
Management’s role is to keep the playing field level, professional and fair. As society evolved from the “Mad Men” era of the 1950-60’s, giant steps have been taken to protect subordinate employees from harassment and unwelcome advances, particularly by superiors. Sure, there is far to go, but as the seismic response to Gretchen and the other purported victims makes clear, the news business will no longer tolerate boorish conduct by anyone, however powerful. Strict policies including sensitivity training are in place. Perpetrators do so at tremendous peril to their careers and families.
To all the victims of sexual harassment, direct and indirect, I am sorry for what happened to you. As the father of three daughters, including one in the news business, I urge all who have been offended to reach out. Similarly, if you see harassment, say harassment, even if the alleged offender is an old friend.
h/t The Right Scoop