Colin Powell’s LEAKED EMAILS Reveal What He Really Thinks Of Donald Trump

For several weeks the media has fixated on emails associated with Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. Some of them were obtained by anti-Democratic organizations and Republicans in Congress. Others were stolen by hackers affiliated with Russian intelligence operations. Now, if the story reported by BuzzFeed pans out, the GOP may get a taste of their own medicine.

Powell/Trump

Personal emails from former Secretary of State Colin Powell have been obtained by BuzzFeed News. Among the revelations in them is his assessment of Donald Trump as “a national disgrace” and an “international pariah.” BuzzFeed writes that:

“The remarks came in a June 17, 2016, email to Emily Miller, a journalist who was once Powell’s aide. In that same email Powell also said Trump ‘is in the process of destroying himself, no need for Dems to attack him.'”

Powell is not just a former Secretary of State. he is also a retired four-star general, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and was National Security Adviser to President Ronald Reagan. His reputation took a hit when he shilled for George Bush’s invasion of Iraq, but as a Republican icon of international diplomacy he is without peer. For him to dismiss Trump in such potent terms could have a significant impact on right-leaning Republicans and independents.

Additionally, Powell’s emails revealed his disgust for the Birther movement which he described as racist. In fact, he said that “the whole birther movement was racist.” With respect to Trump’s leading role in it, Powell wrote “When Trump couldn’t keep that up he said he also wanted to see if the certificate noted that he was a Muslim.”

Powell even commented on Trump bringing disgraced former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes into his campaign. Ailes, you recall, was ousted from the network he founded after numerous women came forward with complaints of sexual harassment. Powell made the cogent observation that “Ailes as an advisor wont heal women.” And he criticized the overall press coverage of Trump saying “You guys are playing his game, you are his oxygen.”

[UPDATE] Additional reporting has revealed another fascinating email from Powell. In this one he says that “Benghazi is a stupid witch hunt.”

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Colin Powell continues to be a respected figure in the Republican Party and more broadly across a swath of independents. Until the release of these emails his opinions of Trump were not publicly known. Trump will surely renounce Powell as a dummy and loser, and his supporters won’t be moved by these criticisms. But Powell is expressing the views of many conservatives who are troubled by Trump’s ignorance and repulsed by his bigotry. Only time will tell if enough of them are dissuaded to prevent a Trump victory from bringing shame to our nation.

Fox News Debate Moderator’s Ex-Boss Is Prepping Trump For The Debates

The 2016 presidential debates are now set with dates and moderators. They will be the most influential campaign events in the final two months of this election cycle. How they are produced and managed can have an impact nearly as significant as the performance of the candidates.

Baby Trump

For the past few weeks Donald Trump has been whining about the debate formats and moderators. Unlike Hillary Clinton, he has still not officially accepted the invitation to participate. To the contrary, he has been threatening to ditch the whole affair. He tweeted that the debates as scheduled were “Unacceptable,” and that “Hillary & the Dems are trying to rig the debates.” Furthermore, in an attempt to work the refs, he told Time Magazine that “certain moderators would be unacceptable, absolutely.”

Well, Donald Trump’s tantrums may have yielded some results (much like they did throughout the GOP primary debates). The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) just released their list of moderators. Lester Holt of NBC will host the first debate on September 26. The second will feature CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Radditz in a town hall format. The final debate will be moderated by Chris Wallace of Fox News.

The CPD managed to select journalists with reputations for fair, if bland, reporting for the first two debates. The problem comes in the third debate with Chris Wallace. Until a few weeks ago Wallace reported to Roger Ailes, the disgraced ex-CEO of Fox News who was ousted following multiple charges of sexual harassment. Prior to his exit, Wallace defended Ailes vigorously, and they remain close friends.

Ailes is now working for the Trump campaign, specifically helping to prep him for the debates with Clinton. The close relationship between Ailes and Wallace is unseemly at best. Will Ailes try to influence his pal on the topics or questions that will be asked? Will Wallace show favor to the candidate employing his friend and former boss?

While these questions can’t be answered with any certainty, the mere suggestions create enough of a conflict to have disqualified Wallace from moderating. Imagine the Republican howling that would ensue if a Clinton aide had a similar relationship with a debate moderator. Trump himself would throw fits of outrage at the bias and corruption of the system. Yet there has been nary a peep from anyone in the campaigns or the press about this blatant favoritism.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The presence of Wallace on the debate stage sets a low standard for fairness that will be difficult to overcome. Only time will tell if he has any interest in doing so. But the most revealing aspect of this development is what has not occurred. Donald Trump has not (as yet) complained about the lineup. That’s a pretty good indicator that he feels he got what he wanted. Too bad the voters who will be watching won’t be able to say the same thing.

Can Fox News, ‘A Playboy Mansion-Like Cult’, Cover Hillary’s Historic Run Fairly?

The wires are burning up this morning as another lawsuit is filed against serial sexual harasser Roger Ailes. You recall that Ailes was ousted as Fox News CEO after Gretchen Carlson, and a couple dozen other women, leveled charges against him.

Fox News/Playboy

The new suit was filed by Andrea Tantaros, the absent co-host of Fox’s Outnumbered. She alleges that Ailes engaged in repeated instances of sexual harassment, and that her complaints were ignored or belittled. Buzzfeed’s report on this contained a colorfully worded statement from Tantaros’ attorney:

“In the lawsuit, Tantaros’s attorney Judd Burstein describes Fox News as a ‘a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny’ and describes Ailes as a ‘sexual predator’ who ‘did not act alone.’ Tantaros alleges Ailes retaliated against her for rebuffing his advances by removing her from The Five and ordering the Fox News media relations department to turn against her.”

There have been many observations that Fox News has all the markings of a cult, including one by this author ( see: Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance). But a “sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult” is even more troubling than your standard, garden variety cult.

In addition to Ailes, Tantaros identified several other Fox big wigs who “made unwanted sexual comments or advances” toward her. They include Fox’s biggest star, Bill O’Reilly, as well as senior national correspondent John Roberts. Former Sen. Scott Brown and former Superman Dean Cain, both Fox contributors, were also named, but not cited as defendants.

Efforts to stop the inappropriate behavior were met with indifference by Fox News management. Particularly executive VP Bill Shine. According to the lawsuit Shine dismissed Tantaros, warning that Ailes was a powerful man and that she needed to “let this one go.” Shine was later promoted to co-president of Fox News after Ailes was terminated.

The blatant discrimination against women by Fox in their workplace is reflected in their election coverage. Even Megyn Kelly has had to admonish her colleagues on the air when they demonstrated insensitivity to women’s issues. That sort of prejudice taints the network in a year when the leading candidate for president happens to be a woman.

Already there have been distinctly misogynistic reports from Fox during the campaign. No candidate other than Clinton has been chastised for fashion faux pas, tone of voice, or physical stamina. And her critics on Fox have also railed against the alleged use of the fabled “Woman’s Card” in her policy positions. A male candidate would not have been similarly attacked for supporting Planned Parenthood or child care.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Descriptions of Fox News as “a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult” make it difficult not to notice how it impacts coverage of Hillary Clinton. After all, she is the first female nominee of a major party to be president of the United States. There is no question that any Democratic candidate would be on the receiving end of Fox’s vitriolic political biases. However, Clinton’s gender is not an insignificant factor and is clearly playing a role in Fox’s coverage. Every viewer needs to keep in mind the heinous activities that go on behind the scenes at Fox News. Because it cannot be separated from the insulting remarks and story angles that actually make it to the air.

In Desperate Move Trump Taps Breitbart Exec To Lead His Floundering Campaign

From the very start, Donald Trump has made “winning” a key part of his political branding. Early in his campaign he promised his supporters that “We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning.” Now that Trump has been falling behind Hillary Clinton in most polls, it’s safe to say that his fans are indeed sick and tired, but winning surely isn’t the reason.

Trump/Bannon

The latest evidence of Trump’s waning electoral fate is yet another campaign shake up. It was just a few weeks ago that Trump sent his long-time campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, packing (he has since taken up residence at CNN) and brought in Paul Manafort to turn things around. Not only has Manafort presided over a continued and worsening slump, he has managed to find himself making news with his unsavory ties to foreign dictators and Russian-affiliated oligarchs.

Now Trump has brought in two familiar associates in an attempt to repair his sagging fortunes. The campaign’s new chief executive will be Stephen Bannon, currently the Executive Chairman of Breitbart News. Bannon has been an ardent advocate for Trump who turned the Breitbart organization into a virtual Trump PR machine. However, he has not been a unanimous favorite among his peers. Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart editor, complained that Bannon had “shaped the company into Trump’s personal Pravda.” Glenn Beck joined in to compare Bannon to Joseph Goebbels.

Bannon will also be remembered (or not) as the the writer/director of the pathetic cinematic flop “The Undefeated,” a documentary about Sarah Palin that went straight to video despite heavy promotion from Fox News. With any luck he’ll bring that same ability and skill to Donald Trump’s campaign.

The other new campaign hire is Kellyanne Conway, who will become Trump’s campaign manager. Conway is the president and CEO of The Polling Company, a Republican outfit that conducts surveys and advises GOP candidates on strategy. She is also a commentator on CNN where she fiercely defends everything Trump does and says no matter how ridiculous or offensive. This puts CNN in the unique position of employing both Trump’s former campaign manager (Lewandowski) and his new one. If they have any journalistic integrity at all, Conway will be suspended immediately. But having hired Lewandowski when he is still being paid by Trump, and is contractually prohibited from criticizing him, CNN’s integrity is already suspect.

These additions to the Trump team follow by one day the news that ex-Fox News CEO Roger Ailes will be coaching Trump to prepare him for his debates with Clinton and providing other campaign advice. Ailes, you will recall, was forced into early retirement after numerous accusations of sexual harassment at Fox. It is not known whether Ailes played any role in the remaking of Trump’s campaign, but he does have history with Bannon. More recently, Bannon penned two defenses of Ailes for Breitbart News. One alleged that Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit was meritless. The other that it is part of a broader liberal conspiracy against Ailes.

Significantly, two of Trump’s top campaign operatives are now former media executives. That paints a picture of a campaign that is more interested in propaganda than politics. Expect Trump’s campaign to venture even further into attacks on the mainstream media and their plot to destroy Trump and, therefore, America. Simultaneously, they can be expected to exploit the media to amplify Trump’s voice and nationalistic fervor.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The value of these personnel moves seems underwhelming. Manafort, with all his baggage, will remain as the chairman of the campaign. And along with Bannon and Kelly they will continue to face the challenge of getting Trump to listen to anyone other than himself. However, their first duty will be to spin this latest campaign reinvention as further proof that Trump is winning.

Disgraced Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes Is Now Advising Donald Trump

Well, this didn’t take long. Less than a month ago, Fox News forced its founder, chairman and CEO, Roger Ailes, into an early (and profitable) retirement. Ailes was escorted from the building following mounting accusations of sexual harassment by a couple of dozen women. Now, with legal proceedings still pending, Ailes is reportedly joining Donald Trump’s campaign as an adviser. Apparently Trump is looking to shore up his base of misogynist old white men.

Roger Ailes Outnumberd

The New York Times is reporting that four campaign insiders have affirmed that Ailes has been tapped to help prepare Trump for the presidential debates against Hillary Clinton. Because who better to coach Trump into becoming a fierce, woman-beating debater than the man who has already humiliated strong women like Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson. The Times had a peculiar angle that saw the bright side of the alliance:

“For Mr. Ailes, being connected with Mr. Trump’s campaign could be a form of redemption after he was pushed out of the powerful network that he helped build. And for Mr. Trump, having Mr. Ailes taking a hand in his preparations for the debates adds immeasurably to the messaging and media expertise in his corner”

For Ailes, being connected to Trump’s floundering campaign hardly seems like redemption. However, Trump may indeed benefit from the advice of the architect of Fox’s propaganda machine. That’s if Trump would uncharacteristically take the advice. To date Trump has been lectured by everyone from the Wall Street Journal to his own daughter, but after promising to change he stubbornly returns to his profligate ways.

Trump’s camp is denying that Ailes will be providing any advice either formally or informally. His spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, dismissed the story in an email saying only that “Mr. Ailes and Mr. Trump have been friends for many years.” That’s the sort of denial that allows for significant wiggle room as the two “friends” may talk frequently about the campaign and how it should proceed.

What makes this relationship most disturbing is that Trump already has historically poor favorables with women. A Gallup poll earlier this year showed Trump with a 70 percent unfavorable image among women. That shouldn’t surprise anyone considering the open hostility he has expressed toward women like Fox’s Megyn Kelly, whom he accused of being belligerent due to “blood coming out of her – wherever.” Or Carly Fiorina, who he insulted for having a face no one would vote for. Or his abortion stance that called for punishing the woman. Or his promise to appoint judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade. Or his opposition to child care, family leave, and equal pay.

Now match Trump’s record with an association with a notorious misogynist who ran a “news” network where he required women to wear revealing skirts while a roving “leg cam” provided the audience with a voyeuristic angle. And forging this partnership while the allegations of workplace harassment are still fresh suggests a degree of tone-deafness that borders on the psychotic.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Whether or not Ailes is officially advising Trump, their friendship and shared malice toward women should be enough to scare away all conscientious voters. And the incestuous relationship between right-wing media and the political hacks they promote is evidence of their utter lack of ethics.

Fox News War Mongering EXPOSED: Former Exec Confesses ‘My Job Was To Sell The War’ In Iraq

The flagrantly right-wing bias of Fox News is no longer in doubt by anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the network’s aggressive propagandizing. Most of the network’s anchors, contributors, and guests lean so far to the right that Joseph Goebbels would have been proud to be associated with it. And yet, their own pride of ideological leaning is carefully hidden under a veil of phony fairness and balance.

Fox News

That’s why it was surprising to find a public admission of political spin from a high level Fox insider buried in a story on a completely different subject. Last week Gabriel Sherman of New York Magazine published another article in his investigative series that contributed to the downfall of Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. Sherman is also the author of the Ailes biography The Loudest Voice in the Room.

The sexual harassment scandal that led to the humiliating ouster of the most powerful man in media had been steadily escalating. Dozens of women came forward to tell their painful stories of abuse. One of those women was Laurie Luhn who worked for Fox News for more than twenty years. The circumstances of her harrowing experience are spelled out in excruciating detail in Sherman’s article. But little noticed was this paragraph buried deep withing the article that revealed something unrelated to the abuse:

“As she was promoted through the ranks at Fox, Luhn worked harder and harder to please Ailes. She zealously promoted the network’s right-wing agenda. ‘I was very proud of the product. I was very proud of how we handled 9/11. Very proud of how we handled the run-up to the Iraq War,’ she said. ‘My job was to sell the war. I needed to get people on the air that were attractive and articulate and could convey the importance of this campaign. It was a drumbeat.'”

As the Director of Bookings for Fox News, Luhn saw her job as “selling the war” in Iraq. And she clearly recognized the benefits of seeking attractive, articulate salespeople to move the product. The “drumbeat” to which she refers was evident every day as the network hammered its advocacy of a war that had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11. This was much more than a typical news slant to sway public opinion. This was a blatant effort to steer the nation into an international conflict that has had disastrous results from which we are still suffering today.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

These revelations turn the Luhn story into a much more complex affair. While she was on a daily mission to help her employer embroil the country in an immoral and illegal war, she was also a victim of unconscionable behavior from her despicable boss. There is no excuse for what Ailes allegedly did to her and the many other women making similar allegations against him. But there is a strange and sad irony that these heinous acts resulted in Luhn providing one of the most potent examples of how Fox News deliberately deceived the American people and unleashed an era of war, terrorism, and misery on the world.

What Samantha Bee Said About Fox News Is Hilarious And True And Definitely NSFW

In the middle of perhaps the most bizarre presidential campaign ever, the primary communications vehicle for the Republican Party, Fox News, suffered a massive blow to its propaganda infrastructure. Last week Fox’s chairman and CEO, Roger Ailes, was unceremoniously cast unto the garbage heap of perverted executives after numerous allegations of sexual harassment emerged.

Samantha Bee

The hostile work environment for women at Fox is reflective of their editorial bias against women, socially and politically, and the issues that impact them most. Reproductive rights, family leave, and gender discrimination, are all areas in which Fox has taken stances in opposition to the best interests of women. So while Ailes (and certainly others at Fox) is an abusive slimeball, we must not forget that Fox is still a thoroughly dishonest purveyor of right-wing disinformation.

Samantha Bee hit on both of those themes in last night’s “Full Frontal” in a segment that took apart the network and its commitment to unabashed misogyny and conservative mythologizing. Her monologue was a tightly knit excoriation of the network’s mission to objectify women while spreading lies and exalting Republican politicians and pundits. For instance:

“Fox News is the only 24 hour news network to feature a strategically placed leg cam to showcase the most qualified body parts of its female contributors. Plus the daily women’s show trading on the titillating tension between owning a harem and fear of emasculation. So yeah, turns out the guy who runs that network is kind of a creep. Who would have guessed?”

That bit about the “leg cam” was not a comic device. Reports from insiders have revealed the existence of an actual camera for that specific purpose. News Corpse reported this two years ago along with an analysis of the nexus of porn and politics that is integral to the culture at Fox News. It’s a network that serves its viewers as their orgasm channel in more ways than one. Bee went on to say that:

“Roger Ailes made Fox News an unstoppable powerhouse by discovering the secret to big ratings. What viewers really want is to be furiously angry while also having a boner. The anger part of the arousal was achieved through Roger’s uncanny ability to take a thing that may or may not exist, put an ominous spin on it, and then force feed it to us all day like a foie gras goose until we were terrified. Fox News was his masterpiece. A right-wing nightmare factory powered by white resentment and relentless misinformation, churning out propaganda 24/7 and making family Thanksgivings unbearable for 20 years.”

That’s as accurate an appraisal of Fox News as any ever published by an academic journal or media analyst. It captures Fox’s reliance on titillating the passions of their wingnut viewers, and lord knows their viewers want their wingnuts titillated. As an extra added benefit, she’s funny as hell.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Fox ‘News’ Boss Roger Ailes Is FIRED As His Creation Donald Trump Takes GOP Nomination

Tonight Donald Trump will be making his HUGE speech to accept the Republican Party’s nomination for president of the United States. It’s ironic, therefore, that the man most responsible for his victory over seventeen other Republican hopefuls just got his ass booted out the door.

Ailes Trump

Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of Fox News, has accepted a separation agreement that is effective today. It was only three days ago that the strange saga of Ailes was first reported. The unusually rapid progress of events that resulted in Ailes’ surprise termination followed the filing of a lawsuit by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson alleging that Ailes sexually harassed her and then retaliated after she reported prior incidents of harassment and gender discrimination. The suit alleges that Ailes told her “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago.” Shortly after Carslson’s lawsuit hit the press several other women came forward with similar complaints.

Ailes released a statement saying in part, “I am proud of our accomplishments and look forward to continuing to work with you as a consultant in building 21st Century Fox.” Fox sources, however, say that he will not be an official consultant, but will be available to informally advise his old pal Rupert Murdoch, CEO of the Fox News parent corporation 21st Century Fox.

Ailes’ long history of exploiting sex in the workplace has been well documented. The environment at Fox is known for making inappropriate demands on female staff, including wearing revealing clothes and engaging in other provocative behavior on-air. Gabriel Sherman wrote in his biography of Ailes, “The Loudest Voice In The Room,” that Ailes has repeatedly given direction to his staff regarding the display of female body parts.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

As Donald Trump takes the stage tonight at the Republican National Convention, the propaganda machine that made it possible is undergoing a severe upheaval. There is no clear line of succession in the executive ranks. Rupert Murdoch will be temporarily assuming the role of interim CEO. And as the dust settles it will be Murdoch’s kids who will be calling the shots and filling the vacancies. There are likely to be other shoes dropping in coming weeks, so stay tuned for further developments.

YOU’RE FIRED: Fox News CEO Roger Ailes To Be Canned For Alleged Sexual Harassment, Sources Say

The continuing saga of Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes just took a leap off a cliff. Longtime Ailes watcher and biographer, Gabriel Sherman of New York Magazine is reporting that:

“Roger Ailes’s tenure as the head of Fox News may be coming to an end. Rupert Murdoch and sons Lachlan and James — co-chairmen and CEO, respectively, of parent company 21st Century Fox — have settled on removing the 76-year-old executive, say two sources briefed on a sexual-harassment investigation of Ailes being conducted by New York law firm Paul, Weiss.”

Roger Ailes Fox News

Sherman’s sources say that the Murdochs are torn between waiting to pull the trigger until after the Republican National Convention, or giving Ailes a choice to quit now or face being fired.

Ailes was recently named in a lawsuit by former Fox host Gretchen Carlson for sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and retaliation for reporting those abuses. The suit alleges that Ailes told her “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago.” And shortly after Carlson’s suit was filed numerous other women came forward with similar accounts of improper conduct by Ailes.

Roger Ailes long history of exploiting sex in the workplace has been well documented. The environment at Fox is known for making inappropriate demands on female staff, including wearing revealing clothes and engaging in other provocative behavior on-air. Sherman wrote in his biography of Ailes, “The Loudest Voice In The Room,” that Ailes has repeatedly given direction to his staff regarding the display of female body parts. For instance:

  • When the view of reporter Kiran Chetry was obstructed, Ailes called the control booth to demand that they “Move that damn laptop, I can’t see her legs!”
  • Ailes complained about host Catherine Crier’s attire saying that “I did not spend x-number of dollars on a glass desk for her to wear pant suits.”
  • The casting of The Five included one particular co-host because “I Need The Leg. That’s Andrea Tantaros.”

In addition to Gabriel’s reporting, NPR’s media correspondent David Folkenflik was told that Fox News, on Ailes instructions, made use of a “Leg Cam” that “goes directly for the legs.” And when host Megyn Kelly was interviewed by GQ (with an accompanying, and revealing, pictorial), she was asked about her own “glass table that shows off your legs.” She responded that “Well, It’s a visual business. People want to see the anchor.” That must be why Bill O’Reilly wears those low-cut blouses.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

If these reports are correct then Ailes’ days at Fox are numbered. His role in creating the network, and serving as its chief executive for twenty years, could end in disgrace and humiliation. And for that to happen just as Fox News is covering their biggest GOP event of the year, it could have serious political ramifications for Donald Trump’s campaign as well. The Murdoch kids who are assuming control of the company are not likely to be as supportive of Trump as Ailes. This story is still unfolding, so stay tuned.

And the plot thickens: “Kelly has told investigators that Ailes made unwanted sexual advances toward her about ten years ago when she was a young correspondent at Fox.”

Gretchen Carlson Sues Fox News CEO Roger Ailes For Sexual Harassment, More Women Coming Forward

If anyone was wondering where Fox News host Gretchen Carlson has been for the past few weeks, the mystery has now been solved. Without any public notice or explanation she was fired last month and removed from the air. Now the reasons have been made clear. According to The Hollywood Reporter

“Gretchen Carlson, a broadcast veteran, claims in a sexual harassment lawsuit that she was let go from Fox News on June 23 as retaliation for rebuffing Roger Ailes’ sexual advances.”

Fox News

Carlson is alleging both sexual harassment by Ailes and retaliation for reporting discriminatory behavior prior to that by her Fox colleagues. Her complaint says in part that…

“When Carlson met with Ailes to discuss the discriminatory treatment to which she was being subjected, 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. Carlson rebuffed Ailes’ sexual demands at that meeting, and nine months later, Ailes ended her career at Fox News.”

Carlson had been with Fox News for eleven years and was hosting her own daytime program “The Real Story” which was number one in its time period. She was previously a co-host on Fox & Friends where she says was subjected to “severe and pervasive sexual harassment” from her co-host Steve Doocy. The Hollywood Reporter notes that…

“In 2009, Carlson says she complained to a supervisor that Steve Doocy, one of her co-hosts on Fox & Friends, ‘had created a hostile work environment by regularly treating her in a sexist and condescending way, including by putting his hand on her and pulling down her arm to shush her during a live telecast..”

It was in response to those and other incidents that Carlson met with Ailes in September of 2015. Carlson alleges that her complaints were not taken seriously at that meeting and she was further harassed by Ailes with more explicit demands for sex. After her refusal she charges that she was punished with a cut in salary and other retaliatory measures including slashing her appearances on the network, and being denied social media and public relations support.

Roger Ailes has a long history of exploiting sex in the workplace. He has required his female anchors and contributors to wear revealing clothing and engage in other provocative on-air behaviors. Gabriel Sherman wrote in his biography of Ailes, “The Loudest Voice In The Room,” that Ailes has repeatedly given direction to his staff regarding the display of female body parts. For instance:

  • When the view of reporter Kiran Chetry was obstructed, Ailes called the control booth to demand that they “Move that damn laptop, I can’t see her legs!”
  • Ailes complained about host Catherine Crier’s attire saying that “I did not spend x-number of dollars on a glass desk for her to wear pant suits.”
  • The casting of The Five included one particular co-host because “I Need The Leg. That’s Andrea Tantaros.”

Furthermore, NPR’s media reporter David Folkenflik was told by knowledgeable sources about the Fox News “Leg Cam” that “goes directly for the legs.” And when host Megyn Kelly was interviewed by GQ (with an accompanying, and revealing, pictorial), she was asked about her own “glass table that shows off your legs.” She responded that “Well, It’s a visual business. People want to see the anchor.” That must be why Bill O’Reilly wears those low-cut blouses. O’Reilly has had his own problems in this area. A few years ago he paid a multi-million dollar settlement to his former producer, Andrea Mackris, for sexual harassment. Also, when Gretchen Carlson was tapped to replace Megyn Kelly in daytime, she revealed that “pants were not allowed on Fox & Friends,” and teased viewers with the prospect that on her new show “I might forget my clothes the first day.”

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Additionally, there is another mystery surrounding a different female host at Fox News. Andrea Tantaros was a regular member of the panel on Fox’s “Outnumbered.” She disappeared in April with the only explanation being that it was “a contract issue.” While there were incidents of sexually improper conduct with regard to Tantaros as noted above, there is no evidence at this time that her departure is related to that.

It remains to seen if Roger Ailes will be held accountable for what appears to be a pattern of inappropriate and unprofessional behavior. But this complaint is a major breakthrough that took courage for Carlson to file and is likely to result in further revelations. The male-dominated culture at Fox News, conspicuously known for its abundance of blondes, could produce many more examples of sexist conduct and discrimination. We may just be at the tip of the iceberg.

UPDATE: CNN’s Brian Stelter is reporting that “In the hours since the lawsuit was announced, ‘at least ten’ other women have contacted the law firm, wanting to speak about Ailes’ treatment, according to a spokesman for the firm.” That didn’t take long.