Since his resignation last month, the list of Fox News women claiming Roger Ailes previously harassed them is growing. On Monday, Fox News host Andrea Tantaros joined seven other women who have previously alleged that Roger Ailes sexually harassed them, with some allegations going back to the 1960s, when Ailes was a media advisor and political advisor for the likes of Richard Nixon and other Republicans. For Ailes and the conservative empire he helped to build, it's yet another round of troubling news.
Most people currently know Ailes as the creator and former CEO of Fox News and the Fox Television Stations Group. He resigned as an executive in late July after Gretchen Carlson, a former anchor, filed a sexual harassment suit and other women spoke about their interactions with him. Fox News spokespersons did not immediately return a request for comment.
In addition to Carlson and Tantaros, New York Magazine's Daily Intelligencer has spoken with Kellie Boyle, 54, a former Republican National Committee field adviser, and Marsha Callahan, 73, a former model, who have gone on the record with their claims. There are four other anonymous women who have told the magazine their stories.
Daily Intelligencer reports that the four anonymous women, a mix of models and media professionals who claim to have been harassed by Ailes anywhere from 30 to 50 years ago, were afraid to use their real names out of "shame or fear of retribution." In the wake of these allegations, rumors have circulated that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly may have also been harassed or at least given testimony in an internal investigation. Simply put, the plot continues to thicken.
Roger Ailes Denies All Of The Claims
Carlson was the first to speak out and file a lawsuit against Ailes, claiming that after she ignored his sexual advances and comments about her body she was terminated. Other claims involve Ailes allegedly forcing sexual acts, making comments about how sleeping with him was the best way to make it in the media business, or allegedly asking women if they were wearing underwear or requesting that they "twirl around. The twirling is a common theme in some of the anonymous allegations. After the six women spoke with the Daily Intelligencer, Ailes' lawyers issued a statement saying:
It has become obvious that Ms. Carlson and her lawyer are desperately attempting to litigate this in the press because they have no legal case to argue. The latest allegations, all 30 to 50 years old, are false.
Fox News anchors Greta Van Susteren, Maria Bartiromo, Sandra Smith, Mercedes Colwin, and Martha MacCallum, along with former New York prosecutor Jeanine Pirro have all come to Ailes' defense, claiming that the harassment allegations were shocking and confusing.
Everyone Is Pointing Fingers
Ailes counsel and other sources close to Fox News claim that Carlson wasn't fired months after she rebuffed his offer to sleep with him, as her suit claims, but because she had made off-brand comments about gun control and the shootings in Dallas this past June. Ailes has also requested that Carlson's suit go into arbitration, which means that no witnesses would be called and it would be settled privately.
Fox News also claimed that there were other reasons for Tantaros' termination as well, which didn't involve her claims of harassment. Tantaros had been in a dispute with Fox News over her book, Tied Up In Knots: How Getting What We Wanted Made Women Miserable, because it was published this spring and they hadn't approved the cover, according to terms of her contract with the network. This spring, after the book's publication, Tantaros was slowly demoted to various time slots before being terminated altogether.
There is currently an internal investigation going on at the network to look into all of the harassment allegations, but Tantaros' lawyers have said that Fox's lawyers haven't contacted her yet, so it's not clear how seriously the network is taking the claims.
Like so often when it comes to sexual harassment or assault allegations, it appears that this case is going to get more complicated as it plays out in the media.