Gabriel Sherman’s highly anticipated exposé of former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes was worth the wait for those looking for more dirt on the disgraced TV executive and leading cable news network.
The story, “The Revenge of Roger’s Angels: How Fox News took down the most powerful, and predatory, man in media,” was published early Friday morning on NYmag.com with a number of allegations against the network Sherman described as “rife with grotesque abuses of power.”
Here are 6 revelations from the exposé on the scandal that started when former Fox News personality Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes.
Carlson secretly recorded meetings with Ailes on her iPhone
The former anchor’s lawsuit against Ailes opened the door for other women to come forward with similar stories and according to Sherman, Carlson has proof of her claims.
“Beginning in 2014, according to a person familiar with the lawsuit, Carlson brought her iPhone to meetings in Ailes’s office and secretly recorded him saying the kinds of things he’d been saying to her all along,” Sherman wrote.
He added that “Carlson will soon announce an eight-figure settlement.”
Rupert Murdoch tried to protect Ailes, but his sons “persuaded” him to take action
Sherman reported that Rupert’s “first instinct was to protect Ailes” but his sons, James and Lachlan, “were not fans of Ailes” and “persuaded” their father to take Carlson’s claims seriously and launch an investigation.
Murdoch was aware Ailes was a risky hire, according to Sherman, who thinks the risks are what made the former Fox News head honcho so successful.
“His volcanic temper, paranoia, and ruthlessness were part of what made Ailes among the best television producers and political operatives of his generation, those same attributes prevented him from functioning in a corporate environment,” Sherman wrote.
Megyn Kelly was “one of the lucky ones”
Sherman wrote that the “Kelly File” host “was one of the lucky ones,” because she “managed to rebuff his sexual overtures in a way that didn’t alienate her boss.”
But that didn’t stop her from speaking with internal investigators regarding her own experiences of Ailes’ treating her inappropriately.
“Kelly and Gretchen Carlson were not friends or allies, but Carlson’s lawsuit presented an opportunity. Kelly could bust up the boys’ club at Fox, put herself on the right side of a snowballing media story, and rid herself of a boss who was no longer supportive of her — all while maximizing her leverage in a contract negotiation,” Sherman wrote, adding that the Murdoch sons are allies of Kelly.
Ailes may lose his wife on top of his job
“In 1998, two years after launching Fox, Ailes got married for the third time, to a woman named Elizabeth Tilson, a 37-year-old producer who had worked for him at CNBC. Two years later, when Ailes was 59, the couple had a son. But neither a new marriage nor parenthood changed his predatory behavior toward the women who worked for him,” Sherman wrote.
Citing four sources close to the family, Sherman wrote, “Elizabeth is said to be taking all of the revelations especially hard.”
“This marriage won’t last,” Ailes’ confidant Rudy Giuliani, who officiated their marriage, told Murdoch, according to Sherman.
Rupert Murdoch ordered Fox News moderators to “hammer Trump” during debate that sparked network’s feud with GOP presidential candidate
Sherman wrote that Murdoch is the one who ordered Fox News to go after Trump during last summer’s infamous GOP debate when Trump didn’t like a question that Kelly asked about his treatment of women. The debate, which ended up being the most-watched non-sporting event in cable history, was the start of a months-long feud between Trump and Fox News.
“According to Fox sources, Murdoch blamed Ailes for laying the groundwork for Trump’s candidacy,” Sherman wrote. “A few days before the first GOP debate on Fox in August 2015, Murdoch called Ailes at home.”
Sherman continued: “Murdoch told Ailes he wanted Fox’s debate moderators — Kelly, Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace — to hammer Trump on a variety of issues. Ailes, understanding the GOP electorate better than most at that point, likely thought it was a bad idea. ‘Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee,’ Ailes told a colleague around this time. But he didn’t fight Murdoch on the debate directive.”
The report notes that “while Ailes released a statement defending Kelly, he privately blamed her for creating the crisis” because she asked an unfair question to Trump and “Kelly felt betrayed, both by Ailes and by colleagues like [Bill] O’Reilly and [Bret] Baier when they didn’t defend her.”
Fox News “obtained the phone records of journalists, by legally questionable means”
Sherman quoted a Fox executive saying, “This was the culture. Getting phone records doesn’t make anybody blink.”
Ailes also had high-priced assistant, according to Sherman, who wrote that executive assistant Judy Laterza “became one of his top lieutenants, earning more than $2 million a year, according to a Fox executive,” and “seemed to function as a recruiter of sorts” when Ailes wanted to hire a particular female.
“It is unfathomable to think, given Ailes’s reputation, given the number of women he propositioned and harassed and assaulted over decades, that senior management at Fox News was unaware of what was happening. What is more likely is that their very jobs included enabling, abetting, protecting, and covering up for their boss,” Sherman wrote.
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) September 2, 2016