Former Fox News chairman-CEO Roger Ailes used the news division’s budget to advance his personal agenda with political-style campaigns against his foes, according to a report published Sunday by New York magazine.
Ailes waged war against his enemies by employing consultants and detectives to smear their reputations online and in some cases follow targets, according to the report. An attorney for Ailes has strongly denied the allegations. Reps for 21st Century Fox could not immediately be reached for comment early Sunday.
One of the most powerful executives in TV, Ailes was ousted last month after 20 years at the helm of 21st Century Fox’s hugely profitable news operation. His downfall came amid a cascade of sexual harassment allegations leveled by women, some dating back as far as the 1960s, triggered by the lawsuit filed against Ailes by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson.
Ailes maintained what the New York magazine report described as a “Black Room” unit at Fox News’ midtown Manhattan headquarters where consultants and detectives worked on various campaigns at his behest. New York reported that one such consultant, Bert Solivan, has recently been let go and that others were likely to follow. 21st Century Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch took the reins of Fox News last month after Ailes’ abrupt departure.
Among the targets of Black Room efforts were journalists who were critical of Fox News and Ailes. That list included Gabriel Sherman, author of the New York magazine story and the author of the 2012 Ailes’ biography “The Loudest Voice in the Room.” Sherman’s reporting on the Ailes scandal during the past month hastened the 76-year-old executive’s exit.
Ailes attorney Susan Estrich told New York that the allegations about the misuse of Fox News funds were “totally false.”