Maria Bartiromo Defends Roger Ailes Against Gretchen Carlson Harassment Claims (EXCLUSIVE)

Maria Bartiromo
Courtesy: REX/Shutterstock

And now, speaking for the defense: Maria Bartiromo.

The veteran business-news journalist joined a number of employees of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network who have stepped up to support Roger Ailes, the chairman and chief executive of Fox News, in the wake of stunning allegations of sexual harassment leveled in a lawsuit by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, and, earlier today, by six women who spoke of their experiences with the executive several decades ago.

“Nobody wants to see anybody have any bad experiences,” said Bartiromo of the allegations, during an interview with Variety. “It’s just not in keeping with what I know, and my experience at Fox.”

Bartiromo has longstanding ties with Ailes, who hired her in the mid-1990s when she was an off-camera producer at CNN, and gave her what has been the opportunity of a lifetime: He sent her to cover the stock market live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange for CNBC, making her the first person to do so on camera. “It really helped to demystify what was going on, and enabled regular people to have a clear idea of what was happening with their money,” she recalled. Her time there sparked a career that has granted her access to CEOs and heads of state. In a sign of how much a part of popular culture Bartiromo became during her tenure at the NBCUniversal-owned network, she became widely known as “The Money Honey,” and was even the subject of a song by punk-rocker Joey Ramone.

Bartiromo turned heads in late 2013 when news leaked that she would leave CNBC after two decades to join Ailes at Fox, where she has, since 2014, anchored “Mornings with Maria” each weekday on Fox Business Network and “Sunday Morning Futures” on Fox News Channel. “I’ve known Roger Ailes for 25 years since he first hired me at CNBC and hired me again two and a half years ago. I’ve known him to be nothing but a professional,” she said. “I’ve learned so much from him and continue to grow.”

Carlson leveled allegations Wednesday in a suit filed in Superior Court of New Jersey charging that the executive had propositioned her sexually and that she had suffered unfair treatment from Steve Doocy, her co-host for several years on “Fox & Friends,” the Fox News morning program. Carlson left the network in June. In a statement made earlier this week, Ailes said her charges were false and came in retaliation for her contact with Fox News not being renewed. Meanwhile, 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, said it will conduct an “internal review” into the charges made against both Ailes and Doocy.

Bartiromo is the latest in a number of prominent female Fox anchors and contributors who have spoken in the days since the charges became public. Greta Van Susteren and Jeanine Pirro have also made statements to media outlets defending Ailes. Megyn Kelly, who has rocketed to fame on Fox News in the past few years, has yet to offer public remarks.

Bartiromo, who has over the years developed a reputation for being able to ask tough financial questions of senior business executives, said she has not had a chance to speak to Ailes since the charges were made, and has been focused each day on putting her shows together.

She also demurred when asked about an anecdote related in an unauthorized 2014 biography of Ailes, “The Loudest Voice in the Room,” in which an anonymous source tells writer Gabriel Sherman that Ailes once made a crack about Bartiromo’s weight and physical appearance when considering an opportunity to hire her before her 2014 arrival. “I did not see that,” Bartiromo said. The book, a controversial one, has been the subject of much scrutiny in recent days.

True to her business-news background, Bartiromo sent over a five-day chart of the stock performance of 21st Century Fox reflecting its performance since Carlson’s allegations became known. The company’s stock price, she noted, has been up.