The fall of Roger Ailes
September 2, 2016 7:26 AM   Subscribe

For 20 years Roger Ailes ruled the $1 billion a year Fox News empire, expecting a culture of fear to stop widespread sexual harassment from being exposed. Then, beginning with the Gretchen Carlson lawsuit against him, it was all exposed. How Fox News women took down the most powerful, and predatory, man in media.
posted by Artw (41 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
He's such a piece of garbage. It's been fascinating to watch his downfall and to hear Fox apologists fall over themselves to make excuses or become extremely silent on the matter.

There was, as usual, a great Diane Rehm Show discussion about the matter here.

Diane's questions are patient, pointed and highlight the extreme atmosphere generated at Fox News by Ailes and others.

Can't wait to read this.
posted by glaucon at 7:36 AM on September 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's like he read a biography of Alfred Hitchcock and was like "hmmm I should try that."
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:37 AM on September 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile the NY Times is really laser-focused on the fact that the Clintons donated too much money to their charity or saved people from North Korea in an incorrect manner or soooooommmmmeeeettthhhhiiinnnggggg

(A violent clatter as I forcibly rip all wires transmitting electronic transmissions from my house and smash my phone with an antique bulldog door-stopper)
posted by selfnoise at 7:44 AM on September 2, 2016 [30 favorites]


Media Matters President Bradley Beychok Responds To Report That Fox Sought Our Reporter’s Phone Records
From what we witnessed with Rupert Murdoch and News Corp's prior phone hacking scandal, it's critical for an immediate investigation of Roger Ailes and any other current or former Fox News employees who may have been involved in this illegal practice.

Roger Ailes and Fox News broke the law by hacking into the phone records of Media Matters employees. Anyone involved in the illegal hacking should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and we are considering all legal options.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:48 AM on September 2, 2016 [12 favorites]


Very glad to see this scumbag suffer, but how many millions of lives has this asshole ruined, and people-helping structures and organizations broken, while he sat on his pile of cash and power?

His career is like a goddamn guidebook to making a career of "I will sell your powerful interests tawdrily to enrich you at the expense of others lives". (See: Enabler/spinner for nixon, reagan, bush, founder of fox news). He is Murdoch's #1 attack dog. LOATHE.

Justice delayed is justice denied (somewhat).
posted by lalochezia at 7:48 AM on September 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


Of course the fall of Ailes isn't all sunshine and light:

When Carlson filed her suit, 21st Century Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, were in Sun Valley, Idaho, attending the annual Allen & Company media conference. James and Lachlan, who were not fans of Ailes’s, had been taking on bigger and bigger roles in the company in recent years (technically, and much to his irritation, Ailes has reported to them since June 2015), and they were quick to recognize the suit as both a big problem — and an opportunity. Within hours, the Murdoch heirs persuaded their 85-year-old father, who historically has been loath to undercut Ailes publicly, to release a statement saying, “We take these matters seriously.” They also persuaded Rupert to hire the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to conduct an internal investigation into the matter.

Would this all have happened without the dynastic whims of the Mirdich clan pushing things along, or would it have just spluttered out? Either way theyre probably going to want to hang this all around his neck, push him out of the way and then proceed with business as usual.
posted by Artw at 7:52 AM on September 2, 2016 [10 favorites]


In the end, it's the money. Always the money. He was able to get away with being a predator for decades because he controlled people's livelihoods, and he was permitted to continue because he brought money in for his employers.

More and more I think the solution to many if not most of society's problems is to figure out a way to prevent the concentration of wealth.
posted by Mooski at 7:53 AM on September 2, 2016 [46 favorites]


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. “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. Sometimes problems are easier to solve” that way, he said in one conversation. “I’m sure you can do sweet nothings when you want to,” he said another time.

After more than a year of taping, she had captured numerous incidents of sexual harassment.


So it turns out Fox News personalities CAN do investigative journalism, if they're motivated.
posted by frogstar42 at 7:57 AM on September 2, 2016 [60 favorites]


When Ailes made harassing comments to her about her legs and suggested she wear tight-fitting outfits after she joined the network in 2005, she tried to ignore him. But eventually he pushed her too far. When Carlson complained to her supervisor in 2009 about her co-host Steve Doocy, who she said condescended to her on and off the air, Ailes responded that she was "a man hater" and a "killer" who "needed to get along with the boys."
I'm too tired to articulate this properly, but one of my favorite things about patriarchy is that taking even the slightest, politest umbrage at even the most obnoxious elements of it will get you labeled a man hater. Like holy shit guys, men have been literally killing women in droves since the dawn of civilization, and continue to do so to a degree that earns us our very own euphemistic classification of assault and homicide ("domestic violence"), but women of any stature are pilloried if we imply such behavior might have a link to woman hating. Gretchen Carlson informing her supervisor about experiencing persistent sexual harassment at work, though? Oh, she's such a man hater!
posted by amnesia and magnets at 8:06 AM on September 2, 2016 [51 favorites]


So glad he's finally getting what he deserves.
Oh wait, he's getting 40 million dollars and a sweet consulting gig.
Fuck this shitty planet.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:07 AM on September 2, 2016 [20 favorites]


One of the pleasures of the 21st century is watching powerful men get nailed for sexual harassment.

Even now, the system doesn't always work, of course. (After all, I write this as rapist Brock Turner is released after 3 months. Many women are still, understandably, too fearful of risking their entire career and being publicly victim-blamed to pursue action.)

But until the last century, sexual harassment by powerful men was not even considered sexual harassment; everyone was theirs for the taking and the women they preyed on were supposed to enjoy the attention.
posted by splitpeasoup at 8:11 AM on September 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


I just moved to the mid Hudson Valley, and in local news, Roger Ailes has yanked a $500K gift that was going to be used to fund the "Roger Ailes Senior Center" in Cold Spring. The secretly-negotiated deal was scuttled after details were exposed.
posted by Glomar response at 8:19 AM on September 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


Great article, Glomar response. "The Roger Ailes Senior Center in Cold Spring is dead, buried by the former Fox News CEO’s insistence that in exchange for his $500,000 donation, he run the $1.5 million public works project and have no responsibility for work performed by his no-bid contractors." Huh?
posted by Melismata at 8:30 AM on September 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


Carlson and Smith were well aware that suing Ailes for sexual harassment would be big news in a post-Cosby media culture that had become more sensitive to women claiming harassment; still, they were anxious about going up against such a powerful adversary. What they couldn’t have known was that Ailes’s position at Fox was already much more precarious than ever before.

"claiming harassment," huh? More "sensitive" to women "claiming harassment"?

More like "must listen to" women who are "reporting" harassment because, like, Social Media means womens' voices register at more than a "0" now.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 8:33 AM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


I just moved to the mid Hudson Valley, and in local news, Roger Ailes has yanked a $500K gift that was going to be used to fund the "Roger Ailes Senior Center" in Cold Spring. The secretly-negotiated deal was scuttled after details were exposed.

As noted briefly in that article,
The opposition was also motivated by the relentless attacks in The Putnam County News & Recorder newspaper on Philipstown residents who've had the temerity to raise their voices on issues of public concern in their community along the Hudson River. Elizabeth Ailes is the publisher of the weekly paper.
Roger Ailes bought the PCN&R in 2008, after moving to the area in 2001; one of the first changes after the takeover was to start running editorials in what was formerly an editorial-free paper: anti-Obama, anti-property tax, ala Fox News -- as reported in the New Yorker, Jan. 31st 2011. Ailes has been long trying to influence local politics, just as he has national politics.
posted by cjelli at 8:37 AM on September 2, 2016 [9 favorites]


Previously.
posted by Melismata at 8:42 AM on September 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


...and like CEOs elsewhere, he left a broken and poor man. Not.
posted by Postroad at 8:42 AM on September 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


No one deserves to be treated in the manner that women at Fox were harassed. No one. But a person could maybe be forgiven for not being shocked that an ultra-right wing network known for bullying, chest pounding, and on-air hostility to women and women's issues turns out to have a shitty culture behind the scenes, too.

I hope the women get restitution and maybe as a bonus manage to force the issue that conservatism doesn't have to be inherently sexist.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:11 AM on September 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


Maybe it's because I'm about to start my seventh decade on this planet, but nowadays --- while I abhor sleezeballs like Ailes --- I can also see how, yes, the world has improved.

Umpty-thousand years ago, when I got my first job, it was considered funny if, when a woman passed a bunch of male coworkers in a hallway, the men would pull down the zipper on the back of her dress; failing to laugh along with those men just labeled her as an uptight 'frigid' and humorless prude. (Note the language; translation: "she doesn't enjoy my sexual assaults, therefore she hates all men".) Try that nowadays and (usually, at least!) your ass will be in deep doo-doo.

Which is not to say there aren't still a lot of Ailes and Murdochs out there: but there are at least fewer of them. Fifty years ago, telling a woman to wear tighter clothes or that she has a nice figure were just everyday workplace comments; now, the majority of men have learned That Ain't Right, or at minimum to keep their hands and sexual comments to themselves. Sure, there are still assholes who don't see what they're doing as wrong, but in general things are better than they were.

I've got to cling to that: things are better than they were. Could be better still, of course, but yes the world has improved.
posted by easily confused at 9:12 AM on September 2, 2016 [27 favorites]


> Roger Ailes bought the PCN&R in 2008

And a recent article in the PCN&R about the senior center says only "Committee chairman Castellano explained that the county originally intended to spend $1.5 million for the center but after a $500,000 donation was rescinded..."

Oddly enough, no mention is made of the donor's name or the reason for the donation being rescinded!
posted by rtha at 9:19 AM on September 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


And Donald Trump hired him knowing all of this :)
posted by radicalawyer at 9:31 AM on September 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


In the end, it's the money. Always the money. He was able to get away with being a predator for decades because he controlled people's livelihoods, and he was permitted to continue because he brought money in for his employers.

There is no victory in this episode -- it is only spun to seem so for those who grasp at straws or think everything in life is a morality play. Ailes ran the FNC with an iron fist for twenty years, and when it was profitable, brass turned the other way. Then, when there was a scandal approaching, but Ailes could easily be discarded without worry, he was shown out the door. That is not progress, but business as usual. Sooner or later, you become expendable, and you are disposed of -- but in such a way that the powers above throw the same mud on you that you threw of your underlings. The next one in charge will play the same game.

I wrote about the FNC and saw the pattern: it was never about the news, public service, morals, beliefs, convictions, ideology, or even facts, but profit.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 9:32 AM on September 2, 2016 [13 favorites]


My general reaction to most of this was, "Well, duh!" The nugget I found was the hint of a Trump TV possibly in the offing. Apparently the mere suggestion has both Fox and the GOP scurrying. Certainly would go some way towards shedding light on this bizarre campaign...
posted by jim in austin at 9:47 AM on September 2, 2016


I wrote about the FNC and saw the pattern: it was never about the news, public service, morals, beliefs, convictions, ideology, or even facts, but profit.

That's true, but elides taking an active role in politics with making those profits.

It is normal for any large organisation to want to arrange its environment to maximise its profits, but with media that becomes indistinguishable from wanting to manipulate the politics of a country in its favour, which means getting and exercising political power. The motives for anyone or anything wanting political power are always secondary to the fact that they want it, because politics affects all of us in very basic ways regardless of whether we're going to contribute to the company's bottom line.

(It's also worth noting that having corporate and state interests too closely aligned is a hallmark of a repressive state, whether nominally right- or left-wing. and always involves media control.)
posted by Devonian at 10:10 AM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm not reading the article right but Meghan Kelly is not any better with morals. She plays the game for money/power. Never did like her.
posted by stormpooper at 10:23 AM on September 2, 2016


I wasn't shocked when I read this, but I was sickened and sad!
posted by OmieWise at 10:36 AM on September 2, 2016


Maybe I'm not reading the article right but Meghan Kelly is not any better with morals. She plays the game for money/power. Never did like her.

I imagine she's slightly better even if only because to our knowledge she's not extorting people for sex and for the hell of it.

But also, feminism needs women like her, too. Feminism needs women in all roles, in all places in the world. Including, yes, Fox News. We can wish for a world where there's no market or place for such a beast as Fox News, but as long as this sort of thing exists, it's better to have a powerful and smart woman on the inside than yet another man.
posted by explosion at 10:56 AM on September 2, 2016 [12 favorites]


I read this whole long torrid tale and came away feeling both disgusted and resigned. How many powerful, old men have repeated this legal and media circus in the past decade? And I feel terrible for thinking "At least he wasn't screwing with kids". But this is becoming depressingly common news, in any form.

I'm sure the reason that this many elderly sexual predators are being revealed now is some combination of changing social norms, the media/digital age, and the fact that men "from a certain era" are finally hitting the point that they're becoming expendable to those in power. Is there any good take-away from these repeated revelations? Can we at least hope that the young power-brokers of today take heed of the fact that they'll only be able to cover up any misdeeds for so long, and think twice before they rape or demand sexual favors from those around them?

God I hope so. As it is, I'm not sure I want to live on this planet anymore.
posted by sharp pointy objects at 11:34 AM on September 2, 2016


It might be premature to count Ailes finished. Maybe if there was a stake driven through his heart?

What is there to stop somebody else from hiring the guy for a big money consulting out-of-decision-chain position?
posted by bukvich at 11:41 AM on September 2, 2016


What is there to stop somebody else from hiring the guy for a big money consulting out-of-decision-chain position?

I really doubt we've seen the last of Roger Ailes in politics or media.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:00 PM on September 2, 2016


Maybe I'm not reading the article right but Meghan Kelly is not any better with morals. She plays the game for money/power. Never did like her.

If the world is fine with men playing the game for money and power, it should be fine with women playing the game for money and power. It’s fine to dislike her for that on principle (as long as it applies equally to dudes), but I’m not going to be sad that she beat Ailes at his own game.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:19 PM on September 2, 2016 [15 favorites]


There is a lot to be learned from that awful mess about the way women are treated at work, how they are not believed when they speak up about it, and how we allow random strangers and the media to attack and vilify the victims.

And in spite of the surprise of Murdoch's sons launching an investigation, Laurie Dhue's lawyer said, "It could be argued that the firm wrapped up its investigation prematurely, limiting the scope."

Limiting the scope? In other words, quickly putting the lid on before too much gets told. For example, I doubt that Laurie Luhn's experience was unique.
posted by OurOwnMrK at 2:08 PM on September 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Meghan Kelly might not be the greatest person, but honestly this feels more like the end of Jurassic Park than anything. Like, yes, it's true that the tyrannosaurus isn't on the same side as the main characters, but I'll be damned if we didn't all cheer when it took down the velociraptors.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:16 PM on September 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


And after all this, he had to battle Coulter to the death during a hurricane, too.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:30 PM on September 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's a shame that he can't be sent to judgement merely on the basis of disrupting American society.
posted by ovvl at 7:42 PM on September 2, 2016


Jesus, after reading that I can't help but feel like Ailes is basically the epitome of a caricature of fat-cat capitalist, money-hungry chauvinist pig. Truly sickening.
posted by bologna on wry at 11:07 PM on September 2, 2016


(Also, it’s Megyn Kelly.)
posted by Going To Maine at 11:08 PM on September 2, 2016


I want to see SNL cover this with some ladies and maybe a man, drawing straws before a broadcast, alright, who wants to blow Roger this time? This would be with the make up people talking about going on strike, because of the extra work. In fact, I want to see the Who Wants to Blow Roger? t-shirt. Not my turn, girlfriend. No, I did it last week, oh no you didn't girlfriend, I had to take care of it twice on Saturday, because of the debates. He flew in special on the corporate jet. I told his assistant if she can't find some new talent, she is going to have to do it herself.

The code of silence is how this stuff goes on. But then I was reading that 85% of Egyptian women between the ages of 16-45 have undergone FGM. That is kind of the ultimately abusive act, short of downright killing.

All of that abuse in the Middle East, constitutes an industry that will be hard to take down, in a nation full of poor people, with few jobs for women. So Roger and his little problem, he makes women play in a higher stakes game, it not as grievous as out and out mutilation, but on a level of psyche and soul it is absolute mutilation. As long as they get away with it, it will go on, after all it is just entertainment for them. They share their stories, and talk about the women's assets and skills over cocktails. That is what men's clubs were made for, besides men being alone with other men.
posted by Oyéah at 3:59 PM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]






Another Previously
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:06 AM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


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