The trainwreck over at FOX News continues following the announcement by former anchor Gretchen Carlson that she was no longer with the network that coincided with the announcement by her attorney that a lawsuit was filed against now-former CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment and retaliation.
When Carlson filed her lawsuit, she was portrayed by some as being ungrateful for the impact that Ailes had on her career and accused of lying. Other female personalities, including Judge Jeanine Pirro, Greta Van Susteren, and Kimberly Guilfoyle defended Ailes. When conservative talk show legend Rush Limbaugh weighed in on the allegations, he basically said he did not believe them to be true adding that he has hung out with and vacationed with Ailes noting that he never even saw him make a pass at anyone.
But in recent weeks, the tides have changed.
It was reported that Megyn Kelly, largely considered the face and the future of the network, gave testimony to attorneys about sexual harassment advances towards her by Ailes ten years ago. Around that time, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, taking a play from Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s nuts and sluts campaign, demonized the alleged victims while defending Ailes as a “good person.”
“I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them, and even recently. And when they write books that are fairly recently released, and they say wonderful things about him. And now, all of a sudden, they’re saying these horrible things about him. it’s very sad because he’s a very good person. I’ve always found him to be just a very, very good person. And, by the way, a very, very talented person. Look what he’s done. So I feel very badly.”
All those who rushed to the defense of Ailes now have egg on their face after Vanity Fair reports that 21st Century FOX is in discussions of a settlement in the Carlson lawsuit after audio tapes emerged proving sexual harassment by Ailes of several women. The company is reportedly also demanding that Ailes pay a part of any negotiated settlement.
Meanwhile, 21st Century Fox has begun discussing a settlement in the Gretchen Carlson lawsuit against Ailes, according to two people familiar with the negotiations. The company is requesting that Ailes, who has denied all Carlson’s allegations, fund at least a portion of the settlement, which is expected to reach eight figures, these people said. At issue in the settlement talks is the existence of audio tapes recorded by multiple women in conversation with Ailes, two people familiar with the tapes said. Ailes’s lawyers have argued that any negotiation with Carlson should take place in private arbitration, but the specter of a public trial looms. “If they litigate the case, all the tapes will become public, directly and through others,” this person said. “Then you will have a parade of women come in. Nobody wants that.” (Ailes, through his lawyer, denied all allegations.)
Over 20 women have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment against Ailes. 21st Century FOX, the parent company of FOX News, released the women from non-disclosure agreements they were forced to sign after many received settlements so they could speak to attorneys about their case.
On Monday, another high-profile FOX News personality came forward to say Roger Ailes had sexually harassed her sicned 2014. Andrea Tantaros, former co-host of The Five, said not only did Ailes sexually harass her, she even filed a claim and brought it to the attention of upper management. She was told that Ailes was very powerful and she should drop it. Tantaros eventually was taken off of The Five and relegated to the morning show Outnumbered before she was taken off the air with the network claiming contract dispute. As with Carlson, Tantaros’s attorney believes she was also the victim of retaliation for speaking out.
This Roger Ailes sexual harassment scandal is not going away. In fact, he is not only being accused of sexual harassment and retaliation but also of spying on FOX News staff and using company resources, without permission, to go after his enemies. The question is how will this affect the future of the network. Could the man responsible for putting FOX News on the map and leading it to become the top cable news station for years now be responsible for its downfall?