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Is This the Beginning of the End for Roger Ailes's Fox News Empire?

Is This the Beginning of the End for Roger Ailes's Fox News Empire?


After former anchor Gretchen Carlson dropped a sexual harassment lawsuit on Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, at least a dozen women have come forward with similar claims. Ailes's future, along with his brand of incendiary, often homophobic coverage, now hang in the balance.

As executive chairman of News Corp., Rupert Murdoch is known as a kingmaker of media, celebrity, and politics thanks to assets like The New York Post and the Fox News channel. But there's another powerful man pulling the strings at the conservative-leaning Fox News, the nation's most-watched news network: 76-year-old Roger Ailes.

Ailes has guided the network's infamous style of coverage -- near-constant criticism of Democrats like President Obama and presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and provocative stories on issues like police brutality and LGBT rights meant to appeal to its older, white demographic -- to success. But the narrative has changed in the past week after former anchor Gretchen Carlson sued Ailes for sexual harassment, claiming her boss retaliated against her after she rebuffed his sexual advances.

Here's a portion of her claim:

"Ailes has unlawfully retaliated against Carlson and sabotaged her career because she refused his sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment. When Carlson met with Ailes to discuss the discriminatory treatment to which she was being subjected [from her Fox & Friends co-star Steve Doocy], Ailes stated: 'I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you'd be good and better and I'd be good and better,' adding that 'sometimes problems are easier to solve' that way."

Ailes denies the accusations from Carlson, saying she's just upset that her contract wasn't renewed. He's also denying the accusations of several more women -- at least a dozen -- who have allegedly told similar stories to Carlson's attorney. Six of those women recently spoke to New York magazine about their experiences with Ailes, with two providing their names.

Former Republican National Committee field adviser Kellie Boyle, now 54, described a frightening encounter with Ailes in 1989, where he allegedly pressured her into sleeping with him as he drove her home after a work-related dinner.

"He had a driver and a car, and after dinner he said, 'Can I take you to your friend's?' So we get in the car and that's when he said, 'You know if you want to play with the big boys, you have to lay with the big boys.' I was so taken aback. I said, 'Gosh I didn't know that. How would that work?' I was trying to kill time because I didn't know if he was going to attack me. I was just talking until I could get out of the car. He said, 'That's the way it works,' and he started naming other women he's had. He said that's how all these men in media and politics work -- everyone's got their friend. I said, 'Would I have to be friends with anybody else?' And he said, 'Well you might have to give a blowjob every once in a while.' I told him I was going to have to think about this. He said, 'No, if you don't do it now, you know that means you won't.' The next morning I show up to get my assignment and was told the guy I was supposed to be meeting with was unavailable. Back in New Jersey I got a call from Roger Ailes. He said, 'How'd your meeting go?' I said, 'Actually he wasn't available and I'm hoping to hear back from him.' He said, 'Ah, well, I'm sure you will. Have you changed your mind yet?' I said, 'I'll have to pass, Roger. I'm married and really committed to my husband. No offense.' He said, 'Well, we'll be in touch.' And that was that. A couple weeks later, I called a friend who was very high up in the RNC and I asked him what happened. He said, 'Word went out you weren't to be hired.'"

Several women recounted Ailes's aggressive, intimidating behavior when he was a producer for The Mike Douglas Show, a talk program that ran in the 1960s and '70s. Former model Marsha Callahan, now 73, says Ailes refused to hire her for an appearance on the show unless she slept with him. She declined and he allegedly told her, 'Oh, pretty girls like you are a dime a dozen.' She didn't get the job. Another woman says Ailes exposed himself to her when she was 16.

Following the latest claims, Ailes's lawyer released a statement to New York: "It has become obvious that Ms. Carlson and her lawyer are desperately attempting to litigate this in the press because they have no legal case to argue. The latest allegations, all 30 to 50 years old, are false."

Other female Fox journalists, like Maria Bartiromo, Greta Van Susteren, and Jeanine Pirro, have released supportive statements regarding Ailes. But in a follow-up story, New York says Rupert Murdoch's sons, Lachlan and James, may be looking for a way to remove Ailes. They've hired an outside attorney to investigate Carlson's claims, which is atypical at Fox.

"This could be curtains for Ailes," a Fox source told the magazine. If that's the case, there's hope the Murdochs will install a new head of Fox News who is less right-wing. The network utilized caustic personalities like Bill O'Reilly to lead the charge against marriage equality and, now, in support of so-called religious freedom that allows businesses and government workers to discriminate against LGBT people.

As of Sunday afternoon, the homepage of Fox News had no mention of the Ailes controversy, but did include several stories casting supporters of Black Lives Matter in a negative light.

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