Multiple women taped their conversations with former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, according to a report in Vanity Fair. Those tapes could be a key factor in forcing 21st Century Fox and Ailes to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit with ex-“Fox & Friends” host Gretchen Carlson, possibly for as much as eight figures, the report states.
Ailes was forced to step down as chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel last month, just weeks after Carlson filed her lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct. Several more women have since come forward, both anonymously and using their names, to claim harassment by Ailes stretching back 40 years.
In agreeing to go, Ailes was awarded a reported $40 million — the amount left on his current contract. Vanity Fair reports that Fox is asking Ailes to contribute to a settlement with Carlson. Ailes’ representatives have strongly denied any misconduct.
Also Monday, New York Magazine reported allegations that yet another Fox host, Andrea Tantaros, was taken off the air after complaining about Ailes’ harassment. Tantaros’ attorney told the magazine that she complained to Bill Shine, Fox’s executive vice president, as well as senior vice president Suzanne Scott and general counsel Dianne Brandi. She believed the complaints were not investigated.
Tantaros was demoted and ultimately suspended from the network. Fox told New York that Tantaros was suspending for failing to allow the network to vet her book before publication. Tantaros alleged that Ailes made sexually charged comments to her in late 2014 and early 2015. On the first occasion, he allegedly told her to “twirl” for him and she refused. A few months later, he tried to give her a hug. On a third occasion, he asked about her workout routine and said she must “really look good in a bikini.”
When Tantaros filed a complaint, Shine allegedly told her that Ailes is “a very powerful man” and advised that she “should not fight this.”
According to the Vanity Fair report, Fox’s internal investigation has expanded from a review of Ailes’ behavior to include the conduct of other executives.