Roger Ailes and his wife, Elizabeth, were planning to donate half a million dollars to bring a new senior center to Philipstown, New York. Ailes could probably use the good press such an act would provide, considering he has spent the past month making headlines for allegedly sexually harassing a multitude of women over his decades-long career at Fox News where, until he resigned two weeks ago, he was Chairman and CEO.
In what Putnam County News and Recorder reporter Eric Gross described as a “standing room only” meeting of the Putnam County Legislature on Tuesday, a heated debate over whether or not to accept the Ailes’ money — and, by extension, to put the Ailes’ names on the senior center — culminated in a unanimous vote to table the issue. Some were willing to reject the donation entirely.
On Wednesday morning, Roger and Elizabeth Ailes reportedly told the PCNR that “they had hoped to help the senior citizens in Philipstown but it is clear for political reasons their funding is not welcome.” The couple withdrew the donation, saying they would be “assigning the money to another one of their charities who can put it to use immediately.”
What might have been useful to know at the start of Gross’ story is that the Putnam County News and Recorder is owned and published by Elizabeth Ailes. That information does, eventually, appear — in the fifth-to-last paragraph of the piece.
That key bit of context might explain why Ailes’ current circumstances were described as follows:
Earlier in the month, an employee whose contract was not renewed, Gretchen Carlson, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes. Ailes has been under vicious attack since then, though he has not yet been able to speak to defend himself.
That motif repeats itself later down in the story: “Ailes, who was not in attendance to defend himself, came under hostile fire when speaker after speaker criticized him.” And later, Gross writes about “a sign of coordination among critics of the Ailes family and the PCNR.”
The PCNR story quotes Ailes’ attorney, Susan Estrich, who in addition to being a litigator is an analysist on Fox News. It is not clear from the piece whether Estrich was in attendance at the meeting or just submitted a statement. (PCNR editor Douglas Cunningham did not immediately return a request for comment.) She is quoted in what Gross describes as “a statement that’s drawn little attention elsewhere.”
I don’t start with the premise that Roger is guilty because I have known him well for 26 years and the man described by the media is simply not the man I know. I don’t think anyone in the business has done more to promote the careers of women than Roger. No one I know in my long tenture at Fox has ever seen Roger treat women with anything but respect. The surprise is not that I’m standing up for him: so are… almost every other woman at Fox News.
Estrich added that she would not ordinarily “comment on her own cases” but felt the need to speak out due to “a smear campaign in full force going back decades.”
Where to begin with Estrich’s statement? For one thing, the reason she shouldn’t start with the premise of Ailes’ guilt is not friendship duration (not a legal term) but with the fact that all defendants in the American justice system are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Whether or not Ailes promoted the careers of women is not what is being questioned. If anything, it is being confirmed by women who claim Ailes only promoted them after they acquiesced to his sexual demands. In Carlson’s case, Ailes allegedly demoted and fired her because she refused his advances.
Former Fox Employee Describes ‘Psychological Torture’ From ‘Predator’ Roger AilesCulture by CREDIT: AP Photo/Jim Cooper After former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit…thinkprogress.org“Almost every other woman at Fox News” is a hard one to quantify. A number of Carlson’s former coworkers have spoken out to discredit her claims, calling the lawsuit “BS” without “a ring of truth.” But several female former Fox employees have told reporters that they would like to speak out but are afraid to do so because of restrictive non-disparagement clauses in their contracts. A Fox News internal investigation into allegations against Ailes released employees from those non-disparagement clauses; at least 10 women have reportedly told investigators about sexual harassment by Ailes. And Carlson’s attorney told New York Magazine that, in the wake of Carlson’s lawsuit, she’d been contacted by more than a dozen women who related similar experiences with Ailes.
What started with a lawsuit from former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson has exploded as multiple women have come forward with similar, disturbing stories. Just last week, Laurie Luhn, once the director of booking at Fox News, detailed decades of misconduct, claiming that Ailes explicitly demanded sex in exchange for promotions at work and his “mentorship.” Megyn Kelly, among the most famous and influential political commentators not just on Fox but in television, period, reportedly told investigators that Ailes “made unwanted sexual advances toward her about ten years ago.”