“About 10 years ago I had a crush on a woman at Fox News,” Stelter said during an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” show. “She was a low-level staffer. I was in college at the time. So I was going out on what I thought were dates. Chris, I thought these were dates. These were not dates. She was actually reporting back to Fox News about me.”
While in college, Stelter founded a noted media blog called TVNewser.
He alleged Tuesday that the unnamed female staffer was relaying back to Fox News what he thought about the network as well as what he thought about its rivals CNN and MSNBC.
“Because I was a reporter on the beat, they were actually spying on me that way,” said Stelter, who now hosts CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”
“Now I didn’t think that was a big deal at the time,” he added. “I thought it was the way Fox operates. Fox is a political organization. But now we know they were actually sending out private investigators. They were tailing other reporters.”
CNN analyst Bill Carter supported Stelter’s claims that Fox would at times trail reporters from other networks.
“They were following reporters around,” Carter said. “We knew covering Fox you’d have to deal with that. You’d get a call from them saying, ‘You better be right on this story’ ― or the implication was, ‘We’ll dig into your past, we’ll dig into your private life.’”
Stelter referenced a series of bombshell reports from New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman detailing multiple sexual harassment allegations against Roger Ailes and other questionable conduct by the former Fox News CEO ― including a report over the weekend alleging that Ailes used portions of Fox’s budget to hire “consultants, political operatives, and private detectives,” who reported only to him, to wage campaigns against his rivals.
Some of the targets of those campaigns, according to Sherman, were journalists who aggressively covered Ailes.
Fox News didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.
Later on Tuesday, Stelter noted that when the alleged dating incident occurred, Brian Lewis, then a close ally of Ailes’, ran public relations for Fox News. Under Lewis, PR was a very aggressive operation, more like that of a political campaign than a news organization.
Lewis was fired in 2013 reportedly for “financial irregularities” and other “performance problems.”
H/T Media Matters
The story has been updated with Stelter’s tweet on the situation.