Allegations Against Roger Ailes Stack Up, But One Prominent Female Fox News Anchor Has Stayed Quiet
Last week, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the media organization’s chairman and CEO, Roger Ailes, claiming she was fired because she rejected his advances. Ailes has denied the allegations, but now more women have claimed Ailes sexually harassed them as well. As the allegations against one of the most powerful men in American media continue to pile on, most Fox News anchors have spoken out in defense of their boss — that list notably excludes Megyn Kelly though, as the network’s most well-known anchor has remained silent on the issue.
New York magazine reports that more than a dozen women contacted Carlson’s lawyer after the lawsuit was made public claiming Ailes sexually harassed them too, dating back decades. Six of the women spoke to the magazine, four remaining anonymous and one of whom was underage at the time of the alleged harassment, and detailed their allegations against Ailes, which his outside counsel, Barry Asen, told the magazine are all false.
Ailes’ lawyers filed a motion Friday in the federal New Jersey court where Carlson filed her lawsuit, attempting to have the suit submitted as arbitration, which would allow the two parties to settle the dispute outside of court. His attorneys said Carlson’s lawsuit was a breach of her contract with Fox News, which they claim says all disagreements should go into arbitration first.
In a statement previously sent to The Frisky, Ailes said regarding Carlson’s lawsuit:
“Gretchen Carlson’s allegations are false. This is a retaliatory suit for the network’s decision not to renew her contract, which was due to the fact that her disappointingly low ratings were dragging down the afternoon lineup. When Fox News did not commence any negotiations to renew her contract, Ms. Carlson became aware that her career with the network was likely over and conveniently began to pursue a lawsuit. Ironically, FOX News provided her with more on-air opportunities over her 11 year tenure than any other employer in the industry, for which she thanked me in her recent book. This defamatory lawsuit is not only offensive, it is wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously.”
Despite the influx of women making similar claims about Ailes that paint a picture of an exec who’s abused his power to degrade and exploit women for more than 50 years, many Fox News anchors have defended him. Maria Bartiromo told Variety, “It’s just not in keeping with what I know and my experience at Fox,” Carlson’s replacement, Kimberly Guilfoyle, told Ad Week, “This is a man who champions women,” and Jeanine Pirro told The Wrap the allegations are “absurd.” However, current female employees saying they’ve never been sexually harassed by their boss doesn’t negate other women’s claims against him.
Nevertheless, with so many Fox News anchors speaking out, why hasn’t Kelly? It seems like the thing to do if you work for the network right now. The journalist has only ever said good things about Ailes, telling Variety in April, “I’ve had a great 12 years here, and I really like working for Roger Ailes.” But, her contract is up in 2017, and she isn’t sure whether or not she’ll stay at Fox, which could be part of the reason she’s not taking a stance. If she wants to stay, it wouldn’t do her very well to trash talk her boss. On the other hand, if she wants offers from other networks, it wouldn’t be super appealing to show that she’s willing to publicly bash her boss, but at the same time, defending Ailes could make her look too loyal to him.
Of course, she could just want to stay out of the controversy since it’s not about her. We can’t know for sure until she actually says something on the matter.