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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

 

With each new disturbing allegation, it’s become increasingly clear that a toxic atmosphere has flourished at Fox News, where powerful men have allegedly harassed and assaulted women for years.

The latest lawsuit to tumble out arrived on Monday, when Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky filed suit in court and claimed that former Fox News chief Roger Ailes had made unwanted sexual advances to her and implied he would reward her with a big promotion if she agreed.

This, of course, comes eight months after the Fox News founder and CEO was ousted following an avalanche of ugly allegations about sexual harassment.

It’s all disturbingly reminiscent of the cascade of accusations that tumbled forth last summer about then-President-elect Donald Trump, whose disregard for women was also caught in a recording of his boasts of sexual assault made in 2005 on the set of Access Hollywood.

Some of the allegations at Fox News were similar: We learned that men who have worked in positions of power at Fox News allegedly groped women, kissed them against their will, made inappropriate sexual comments, asked about female employees’ sex lives, promised promotions in exchange for sex, cut short careers of women who took offense, and scheduled “phone sex in the office.” (That’s when they weren’t demanding oral sex from female subordinates.)

And oh yeah, federal prosecutors are now investigating whether Fox News’ parent company “made insufficient disclosures to its investors about settlements of sexual-harassment claims.”

The new Roginsky suit arrives just days after a New York Times investigation revealed that Fox and anchor Bill O’Reilly have spent approximately $13 million to pay off female colleagues who have accused O’Reilly of abusive behavior. (O’Reilly reportedly makes about $18 million a year at Fox News.)

Of course, the problem of sexual harassment and assault is by no means limited to only “conservative” workplaces, but it’s telling that three of the most powerful men in Republican politics over the past few decades — Trump, O’Reilly, and Ailes — have all repeatedly been accused of systemic harassment of female employees and predatory behavior.

And that’s why Fox News and Trump are inexorably linked — not just politically, but culturally, as their hallmark misogyny seems to flow with the same urgency.

That’s why Fox News figures, including O’Reilly, reflexively defended Trump and dismissed and belittledthose who brought allegations against him.

Now, as the burgeoning O’Reilly crisis grows reignites, the sexual harassment and assaults allegedly perpetrated by Fox figures and Trump have returned to the spotlight.

O’Reilly, Ailes, and Trump are putting a particularly disturbing face on the conservative movement: that of a triumvirate of wealthy, elderly, and powerful men towing behind them a list of public accusers stretching back decades. These three men unequivocally helped shape the Republican Party and right-wing media in recent years. And all three have repeatedly been accused of predatory behavior toward women. (Do conservatives even care that the movement is synonymous with misogyny? Amanda Marcotte at Salon argues they do not.)

For now, Fox News bosses have to switch gears back to sexual harassment crisis management mode, the kind that defined their 2016 summer. But those executives can’t say people didn’t try to warn them.

They can’t say that when the tawdry Ailes sex scandal exploded in plain view that people didn’t encourage Rupert Murdoch and his family to take honest stock of the disturbing, predatory work environment that had been enshrined at Fox News for years.

Last summer, I urged James and Lachlan Murdoch to do the right thing and divorce Fox News from Ailes’ decades-old culture harassment and assault:

[A]re they going to simply remove Ailes, read an outside investigation about rampant sexual harassment allegations, shelve the lecherous findings, and carry on without any kind of radical shift in leadership? It doesn’t seem possible that just one man was responsible for that much alleged harassment.

Meaning, if James and Lachlan make no concerted effort to fix the widespread problems facing the women working at Fox News, that means James and Lachlan will soon own that problem and that stigma.

Today, the Murdochs own the stigma because they did almost nothing to try to eradicate it last year. Yes, they commissioned an independent investigation into Ailes, hiring the law firm Paul, Weiss. But they apparently tailored a very narrow inquiry and seemed determined not to uncover the larger rot at the root of the cable channel. (Fox seemed about as interested in owning up to its dark harassment past as Trump did on the campaign trail last year.)

“Paul, Weiss, according to a source close to the investigation, never expanded to look deeply into phone and e-mail records throughout the company to unearth evidence of a culture of sexual harassment,” writes Sarah Ellison at Vanity Fair this week.

How un-serious was the Murdochs’ house-cleaning? Fox News’ Bill Shine, who has specifically been accused of covering up harassment for years, was promoted and made co-president of the channel. Fast forward seven months and yes, once again Shine is accused of covering for Fox News’ serial harassers.

Reporting on the latest Ailes lawsuit, NPR reported:

“Shine retaliated against plaintiff because of her complaints of harassment and retaliation [against Ailes],” the lawsuit reads, “and because of plaintiff’s refusal to malign Gretchen Carlson and join ‘Team Roger’ when Carlson sued Ailes … Shine also aided and abetted Ailes’ acts of retaliation and harassment.”

In other words, the company’s idea of cleaning up the rancid culture inside Fox News is to help craft multimillion-dollar settlements for accusers and to make sure not to remove many of the people regularly accused of harassment or of facilitating the cover-ups.

I’m sure Trump approves.

 

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20 responses to “O’Reilly, Trump, And Ailes: The Culture Of Predatory Harassment Dominating The Conservative Movement”

  1. Stuart says:

    And the evangelicals who support Fox News have the same culture.

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    • Irenewhoward says:

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    • Mama Bear says:

      yep, their god told them that men should have dominion over all the earth – which of course can be defined and defended by the definition by all and any “christian” male.

    • 788eddie says:

      Please don’t bring the Christian “Evil-genitals” into this discussion; it may hurt their feelings.

      • Mama Bear says:

        don’t think there are many feeling to hurt in that cult, eddie, their cult is one of martyrdom and they consider it the highest calling to be martyred – literally or an any figurative way they can.

    • CPANY says:

      Aaron:

      Stop beating around the bush. Do you or don’t you like Republican Party?

      • Cpany, stop asking questions that have nothing to do with the topic, OK? What difference would it make what Party I like? Will my Party affiliation have some measurable effect on Trump and Bill’s behavior?

        This is the sort of mature mind-set you must develop in order to become mature and relevant in today’s society, and be able to ask relevant and intelligent questions.

        Remember: You don’t have that much time left to get your spiritual/mental act together, before you have to step through the door of Death like all the rest of us. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself butt-naked bereft of spiritual virtues, which will be required by us all to advance, unhindered by baggage of our egos and self-centered attitudes in the next worlds. And also, you should know that your political affiliation in the realms of God don’t mean JACK!!

        I sincerely hope that some day you’ll become an adult, and not some servile human, subservient to a political party.

  2. With Trump’s vile and lewd self in the OVAL Office—the surest and blatantly visible sign of a rapid and steady decline in a land that prides itself on Christian Values—the tiresome and misleading slogan “Make America Great Again”, stands out like a the largest sore thumb in this sector of the galaxy.
    And Bill O’Reilly has been selected to join Ailes, Trump and Steve Bannon on the All-Hedonist Lascivious Bowl Team, as perennial 2008-2017 stand-outs of the most lewd and unsavory grouping ever fielded. No other squad comes close to dethroning this perverse and depraved team.

  3. My previous post may appear to be frivolous to many, but the intent behind it is deadly serious. The depths of amoral and adulterous behavior by Trump and FOX stand out though, particularly in light of the sanctimonious attitude that has oozed out of Conservative quarters ever since Falwell, Oral Roberts, and Pat Robertson would hold court daily espousing to the world how specially blessed they were and beyond reproach while castigating the least transgressions by “The Opposition”.

    Thanks to FOX and Trump, and now Bannon, Breitbart, and the recently humiliated Conservative doyen specializing in advocating sexual abuse of children, Milo Yiannopoulos, the Conservatives have trotted out a “Who’s Who” of demented, sordid, and tawdry personalities. A list that will go down in Infamy and should require a special section in all history books on this Era for future generations to read about with consternation that America would spawn so many decadent and perverse individuals.
    Certainly, not one of these people will ever be mistaken for having displayed “angelic” and noble qualities.

    Are these individuals, and those who find their behavior acceptable and would invite to speak to their Special Interest Groups, like CPAC, supplied with water from a special common reservoir, laced with compounds that promote aberrant behavior? Or were they all dismissive since adolescence about developing spiritual qualities—a damning indictment of their parents, and the lack of spiritual direction and moral certitude from their respective religious communities.

    The sheer quantity of depraved individuals towing the Conservative line strongly hints at a systemic spiritual disease causing such lewd behavior in such a specific niche of American society.

    • CPANY says:

      Aaron:

      Don’t you have a regular job? You are ingenious at stretching a few well chosen words into a paragraph. You must have nothing better to do. Remember the joke about an academic? If you ask him the time, he’ll tell you how a clock works.

      Total blather. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

      • Aaron Zanzibari says:

        If your mental illness and/or emotional imbalance makes it difficult for you to appreciate good conversation, to perceive, and to act in a civil manner, then you should spend your time in one of those internet echo chambers filled with vile conversations and anger. This seems to be more suitable for people like yourself.

      • Your question is utterly irrelevant to the conversation. A job? It would seem that you never had a job in your life. Otherwise, you wouldn’t complain about comments you can’t understand, and instead would post something that at least smacks of some intelligence on your part.

    • idamag says:

      I think this rise of uncivilized behavior should be studied by the CDC.

      • Aaron Zanzibari says:

        There is definitely an unusually troubling element to the illness we see proliferating in American society, like some strain of TB resistant to antibiotics.

  4. FireBaron says:

    Of course, the Sexual Predators are going to support each other. I am surprised they have not started a Bill Cosby Mutual Appreciation Society based on the far greater number of conquests he has been accused of then they have.

  5. Mama Bear says:

    Let’s be honest….Republicans have always felt that men could do whatever they wanted to do to/against women and it was all ordained because, well, men were just built that way and god knew it and approved it. They just didn’t talk openly about it. The only difference recently is that they are led by the vilest one who stood up and declared it “OK” to take whatever they wanted from women….and of course children if that is the predilection.

  6. Thomas Martin says:

    Predatory harassment must have become one of the new Republican principles. They keep saying they have to stick to their principles, you know.

  7. idamag says:

    Trump the groping voyeur and fox news. I must warn my granddaughters to never be alone with a republican. Also, don’t buy a used car from one. All of their past Christian values party and family values party was to hide who they really are.

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