Former “Good Morning America” executive producer Shelley Ross is the latest woman to accuse ex-Fox News boss Roger Ailes of sexual harassment, saying he once told her the best form of loyalty is a “sexual alliance.”
Ross wrote a first-person account of the treatment she received from Ailes for The Daily Beast, in which she detailed being recruited to New York in 1981 to work for Ailes when he was in charge of NBC’s “The Tomorrow Show.”
“When did you first discover you were sexy?” Ailes once asked, according to Ross. She denied his advances, but said he was “very persistent” and believed “the best expression of that loyalty comes in the form of a ‘sexual alliance.'”
“This was not a romantic or flirtatious conversation. ‘Predatory’ is not quite accurate either. Roger expressed a true philosophical conviction that this would be mutually beneficial for us both, that he was looking for a partnership and it was somewhat special that he had chosen me. So perhaps ‘cultish’ needs to be in the mix,” Ross wrote. “Whatever it was, I now suspect that this is the job I turned down a decade before Laurie Luhn came along.”
Luhn is a former Fox News booker who recently told New York magazine that she endured over 20 years of “psychological torture” and sexual harassment from Ailes. Ross detailed a back-and-fourth conversation with Ailes about how their “sexual alliance” would work.
“I’d never date a boss, and besides, we hardly know each other. We don’t know if we’d even like each other outside of the work environment,” Ross wrote that she told Ailes.
“Oh, if it’s time you need, just say so,” he replied, according to Ross.
“This unnerved me greatly. Why couldn’t I deflect this? I took a Valium and crumpled under the covers. I had already laid the groundwork to sublet my L.A. apartment, arrange for someone to look after my car, and worst of all, I had announced to my friends and family I was moving to New York,” Ross wrote. “I felt truly vulnerable for the first time.”
After Ross complained and Ailes received a lecture from NBC lawyers, he said he was single and thought being unmarried made it OK. Ailes then flew her back to New York and continued to recruit her for the job. The two spoke, and Ross believed Ailes was genuinely sorry for his sexual advances.
“So back to Roger’s expression ‘sexual alliance.’ I hope this is not the phrase that’s pulled into the headlines just because it sounds creepy enough to go viral. There’s a lot more to this story and a lot more to Roger Ailes — who cannot be painted with one simple brushstroke,” Ross wrote.
She said sexual harassment has “many faces, genders and legions of enablers.”
“You can’t just have one villain, not even Roger Ailes. For 30 years I have witnessed a pervasive culture populated by more than a few morally repugnant executives and those who kept their jobs by not making waves around them,” Ross wrote.
Ross said, “Fox News should take the lead in a kind of sexual harassment Truth and Reconciliation project” and offered to help organize it.
Read Ross’ entire Daily Beast post here.