The sexual harassment claims against former Fox News chief Roger Ailes have only grown worse in the month since Gretchen Carlson filed suit against the 76-year-old media legend.
Carlson, a former Fox News host, dropped the bombshell allegation that Ailes had harassed her throughout her time at the network and enabled a hostile work environment there. Other women have now accused him of sexually related misconduct from unwanted groping to decades of “psychological torture.”
The list of Ailes’ public and private accusers has grown to more than 20, Carlson’s lawyers have said.
Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, moved quickly to try to contain the disastrous developments. Within two weeks of Carlson’s lawsuit, an outside law firm was hired to investigate the claims and Ailes was booted out (with a $40 million golden parachute).
New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, who has interviewed more than half a dozen of those claiming harassment, writes that their stories cover decades. Carlson’s complaints go back to at least 2009, after she’d highlighted sexist treatment at Fox News, and continue as recently as her June ouster from the network. Other allegations reach back more than 50 years to when Ailes was a producer on “The Mike Douglas Show,” putting them past the statute of limitations for any legal relief.
Still other Ailes accusers had previously settled with him and signed non-disclosure agreements, yet they’re now coming forward. 21st Century Fox is also waiving those agreements to allow anyone to speak to the law firm investigating the situation.
Andrea Tantaros, who was taken off the air as a Fox News personality but remains on its payroll, told New York Magazine that in the past, complaints to Fox News’ human resources department were ignored.
Ailes, through his lawyers, has denied the claims against him. Here are some of the women who say he did it:
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Gretchen Carlson said in her July 2016 lawsuit against Ailes that the onetime Fox News chief retaliated against her for speaking up about sexist treatment. According to the lawsuit, he later told her, "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."
Following Carlson's accusations, Fox News star Megyn Kelly remained conspicuously silent even as female colleagues spoke out in support of Ailes. New York Magazine, citing two Fox News sources, soon reported that Kelly had talked to the law firm investigating the Ailes situation and told them the former chief had sexually harassed her 10 years ago when she was a young correspondent.
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Laurie Luhn, a former booker for Fox News, told New York Magazine in a devastating interview that Ailes had sexually harassed and "psychologically tortured" her for 20 years. She was among the few women who said she had acquiesced to Ailes' demands, knowing he could help her career.
Ailes eventually directed her to recruit young staffers for him, she said. “You’re going to find me ‘Roger’s Angels.’ You’re going to find me whores," Luhn accused him of saying.
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Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros said that Ailes asked her to twirl for him, requested she hug him and made comments about her body. After she complained, she said she was demoted and taken off the air. She remains on Fox's payroll.
Fox News said Tantaros was not retaliated against for her complaints but rather disciplined for breaking company policy by not letting the network vet a book she wrote.
Boyle Public Affiars
Kellie Boyle, a former Republican National Committee field adviser, told New York Magazine that Ailes propositioned her in 1989 shortly after he'd helped George H.W. Bush win the presidency. “You know if you want to play with the big boys, you have to lay with the big boys,” Ailes allegedly told Boyle, who was 29 and married at the time.
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Rudi Bakhtiar, a former Fox News correspondent, said she was fired for complaining about sexual harassment by then-Washington bureau chief Brian Wilson. She said Ailes also behaved inappropriately, asking her to stand during a job interview so he could see her legs and sending her miniskirts to wear at work.
Bakhtiar, who previously took legal action against Fox, said she is speaking out now because she believes the network's culture of sexual harassment is not limited to Ailes.
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Three decades ago, Shelley Ross worked on "The Tomorrow Show," which followed Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show," with Roger Ailes. She recently wrote an Daily Beast essay describing sexual harassment in the media industry, including her encounter with Ailes.
"Roger was very persistent as he continued to explain how much he believed in loyalty and how much he believed the best expression of that loyalty comes in the form of a 'sexual alliance,'" she wrote.
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Marsha Callahan (left) said that in the 1960s, Ailes told the then-aspiring model she could advance her career by sleeping with him. As a producer on "The Mike Douglas Show," Ailes allegedly asked Callahan to wear a garter belt and stockings and lift up her skirt for him.