The avalanche of news surrounding the ouster of former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes continued Friday, with reports that the network’s biggest name, Megyn Kelly, informed investigators nearly four years ago about Ailes’ sexual misconduct.
Former anchor Gretchen Carlson filed suit in July against the disgraced media mogul (who reportedly plays an unofficial role in the Trump campaign), claiming Ailes subjected her to sexual harassment, then fired her in retaliation after she rebuffed his advances. While the 76-year-old former chairman continues to deny Carlson’s claims, reports indicate at least six more women came forward to corroborate Carlson’s allegations to tell their own experiences of sexual harassment by Ailes.
Arguably the biggest name to connect herself to the scandal was Kelly, who told investigators several weeks after Carlson’s lawsuit that she was sexually harassed by Ailes nearly a decade ago, during her divorce from husband Daniel Kendall.
New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reports that in 2012, Kelly informed vice president of Fox News media relations Brian Lewis about her concerns, saying that Ailes made inappropriate sexual advances toward her. She also warned him that rumors about Ailes’ misconduct could end up in Sherman’s Ailes biography The Loudest Voice in the Room, which was released in 2014.
According to the report, Lewis attempted to put a stop to Ailes’ sexual harrassment, telling Ailes’ longtime assistant Judy Laterza to warn Ailes about the potential repercussions. Per Sherman, “Laterza told Ailes that his PR chief was being disloyal.” Less than a year later, in July 2013, Ailes fired Lewis.
Shortly after Carlson’s suit came to light, Kelly disclosed her experiences with Ailes to Rupert Murdoch’s son James, who encouraged her to speak with outside investigators who were exploring Carlson’s allegations. Kelly also encouraged other women working at Fox News to come forward. According to Sherman, Kelly’s “betrayal” of Ailes angered his wife Elizabeth, who pressed Fox News’ PR department “to release racy photos of Kelly published years ago in GQ as a way of discrediting her.” Soon after, Ailes was fired from Fox News.
While Ailes continues to deny the allegations against him, Vanity Fair reported last month that Carlson secretly recorded some of her interactions with Ailes on her cell phone, including one where the former chairman told her, “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago.”
In addition to the disturbing accusations levied against Ailes—including a disturbing account by a former staffer who claims he “psychologically tortured” her for 20 years—several reports indicate the former chairman also ran a covert operation to spy on employees and journalists critical of him, effectively turning Fox’s PR machine into his own political agent.
For all the reasonable criticism launched against Fox News’ reportage, one thing is certain: These brave women deserve applause for standing up to Ailes and fighting the old order. Hopefully, the end of this saga will usher in a new era at the “Fair and Balanced” network, because it’s clear that something needs to change.
- Former Fox Host Says Ailes and Bill O’Reilly Contributed to Network Being a ‘Playboy Mansion-Like Cult’
- Young Helen Mirren Puts Incredibly Sexist TV Host in His Place in Viral Video
- Megyn Kelly Says Roger Ailes Sexually Harassed Her Too, Sources Confirm