New York magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman’s highly anticipated expose of former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes paints the disgraced executive as a man running a network “rife with grotesque abuses of power.”
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.
Sherman, who has been out in front of the Ailes sexual harassment scandal from day one, calls Fox News “something like a fourth branch of government; a propaganda arm for the GOP; an organization that determined Republican presidential candidates, sold wars, and decided the issues of the day for 2 million viewers.”
The expose starts off by reminding us of the Gretchen Carlson sexual harassment suit against Ailes, which resulted in numerous women coming forward with similar 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.
Rupert Murdoch’s sons, James and Lachlan, saw the Carlson lawsuit as both “a big problem — and an opportunity,” according to Sherman because they “were not fans of Ailes’s.”
The story points out that current Donald Trump confidant Rudy Giuliani was included in an emergency meeting Ailes held hours after news of the Carlson lawsuit broke. Additionally, Sherman said that Ailes’ wife, Elizabeth, was part of the team that “turned his second-floor office at Fox News into a war room” in an attempt to fight the accusations.
“Ailes told executives that he was being persecuted by the liberal media and by the Murdoch sons. According to a high-level source inside the company, Ailes complained to 21st Century Fox general counsel Gerson Zweifach that James, whose wife had worked for the Clinton Foundation, was trying to get rid of him in order to help elect Hillary Clinton,” Sherman wrote before claiming that “Ailes threatened to fly to France, where Rupert was vacationing with his wife, Jerry Hall, in an effort to save his job.”
Sherman said the trip never happened and details that Rupert’s first instinct was to protect Ailes, but his sons disagreed. “Carlson will soon announce an eight-figure settlement,” according to the expose.
When Ailes eventually resigned amid the scandal, Drudge Report posted, and then removed, what appeared to be details of Ailes’ severance package. Sherman sheds light on what actually happened.
“Ailes’s lawyer Susan Estrich tried to send Ailes’s denial to Drudge but mistakenly emailed a draft of Ailes’s proposed severance deal, which Drudge, briefly, published instead,” he wrote.
Sherman wrote that Murdoch was aware Ailes was a risky hire but noted, “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.”
“Over the past two months, I interviewed 18 women who shared accounts of Ailes’s offering them job opportunities if they would agree to perform sexual favors for him and for his friends. In some cases, he threatened to release tapes of the encounters to prevent the women from reporting him,” Sherman wrote.
Sherman wrote that Fox News star Megyn Kelly “was one of the lucky ones” because she “managed to rebuff his sexual overtures in a way that didn’t alienate her boss.”
“Ailes used Fox’s payroll as a patronage tool, doling out jobs to Republican politicians, friends, and political operatives,” Sherman wrote. “Ailes also positioned his former secretaries in key departments where he could make use of their loyalty to him.”
The expose claims that Ailes “ruled Fox News like a surveillance state” and “Fox’s IT department also monitored employee email.” It also claims 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 expose goes on to detail Ailes’ past, going back decades, painting the former TV exec as an absolute monster. Sherman also wrote the 2014 biography of Ailes, “The Loudest Voice in the Room,” which made him an enemy of Ailes’ long before Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit.
Earlier this week, Ailes’ attorney launched a preemptive strike against Sherman, reaching out to The Daily Beast with a personal attack when news of the upcoming expose began to emerge.
“This is Gabe Sherman’s last stand, and it falls flat,” Ailes’ attorney Susan Estrich emailed Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove. “Sherman has made clear that nothing will stand in the way of his vendetta against Roger Ailes, and he will use any woman he can find — no matter how clearly and deeply troubled she is — to try to concoct allegations against Mr. Ailes.”
She continued: “Gabe is running out of women he can use and abuse. Ultimately, it will be clear that the real enemy of women is Gabe Sherman.”
Meanwhile, as Fox News tries to move on with many of Ailes’ former protégés now in positions of even more power, Sherman writes, “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.”
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) September 2, 2016