Fox News chief Roger Ailes resigned in disgrace on Thursday in the wake of a sexual harassment suit brought by former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson earlier this month. In the tumultuous two weeks since the suit was filed, the nation’s No. 1 cable news channel has been embroiled in tumult. The network has a reputation as a place where loyalty is prized and insubordination punished, and a gaggle of pundits and reporters from the Fox universe have come to Ailes’ defense—and questioned Carlson’s character—in interviews and op-eds.
On the other side, more than 20 female associates of Ailes’ have come to Carlson’s lawyers with stories like hers, and six of them talked to New York’s Gabe Sherman. For her part, Carlson’s lawsuit accused Ailes of making “sexually-charged comments,” asking Carlson to turn around so he could look at her posterior, and demanding sexual favors, among other things. Sherman has also reported that Fox News star Megyn Kelly has told investigators of her own harassment by Ailes and encouraged a former Fox host with a similar story to come forward. Lachlan and James Murdoch, the sons of 21st Century Fox executive co-chairman Rupert Murdoch, reportedly pushed aggressively for Ailes’ ouster; until Ailes’ replacement is named, the 85-year-old Rupert will run the channel.
In part because of the nondisparagement clauses that some Fox employees sign, public testimonials largely ran in Ailes’ favor. But there were different degrees of support. Tracking the various players, both on and off screen, in the Fox News drama can be as difficult as keeping track of Bill O’Reilly’s many books about murdered luminaries. The next time you’re struggling to remember who had the courage to speak out about a man with a reported 40-year history of harassing women, who came to his defense, and who kept quiet, this guide to Fox News’ palace intrigue should make things relatively simple.
Dungeon of Disgrace
Roger Ailes, founder and ex-CEO of the Fox News and Fox Business channels, to Carlson in 2015, according to Carlson's lawsuit:
"I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better … sometimes problems are easier to solve.”
Steve Doocy, host of Fox & Friends, according to the lawsuit:
"Doocy engaged in a pattern and practice of severe and pervasive sexual harassment of Carlson, including, but not limited to, mocking her during commercial breaks, shunning her off air, refusing to engage with her on air, belittling her contributions to the show, and generally attempting to put her in her place by refusing to accept and treat her as an intelligent and insightful female journalist rather than a blond female prop."
Hall of Smearers
Greta Van Susteren, host of Off the Record, to People:
"This doesn't have any ring of truth to me. I would have heard it. People don't keep things silent. ... I sort of feel bad for Gretchen Carlson because it's sort of a weird thing that she's done. What she's alleging is something that is alien to me. I've never heard it."
Neil Cavuto, host of Cavuto on Fox Business Network, in an essay on Business Insider:
“All this stuff I've been reading about Roger is a lot of clutter and a lot of nonsense.”
Geraldo Rivera, correspondent at large at Fox News, on Twitter:
Oh the grotesque unfairness of life— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) July 21, 2016
Irena Briganti, executive vice president of corporate communications for Fox News and Fox Business Network, as reported in New York magazine:
“According to sources, Ailes spokesperson Irena Briganti has been criticizing Kelly to reporters, saying she is selfish to not stand up for the man who gave her career opportunities.”
Bill O’Reilly, host of The O’Reilly Factor, in conversation with Seth Meyers:
“In this country, every famous, powerful, or wealthy person is a target. You're a target, I'm a target. Any time somebody can come out and sue us, attacks us, go to the press, or anything like that. And that's a deplorable situation. ... I stand behind Roger Ailes 100 percent”
Tammy Bruce, Fox News contributor, in a Huffington Post op-ed:
“Ms. Carlson believes her former colleagues are whores. But Roger Ailes is the problem. Got it.”
Antechamber of Ambiguity
Maria Bartiromo, host of Mornings With Maria on Fox Business Network, to Variety:
“Nobody wants to see anybody have any bad experiences. … It’s just not in keeping with what I know, and my experience at Fox.”
Tower of Tears
Juan Williams, Fox News contributor, to the Huffington Post:
“I love Roger. He’s been like a savior to me.”
Bret Baier, host of Special Report With Bret Baier, to CNN Money:
"I can only speak for my relationship with Roger. I don't know about all the allegations. I only know— and would like to focus on—the Roger I know. A man who was kind to me and my family and was a television genius."
Rupert Murdoch, chairman of 21st Century Fox, in a statement:
“Roger has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country.”
Library of Silence
Shepard Smith, chief news anchor at Fox News
Court of Conscience
Lachlan Murdoch and James Murdoch, 21st Century Fox’s executive chairman and CEO, respectively, in a statement:
“We join our father in recognizing Roger’s remarkable contributions to our company. ... We continue our commitment to maintaining a work environment based on trust and respect. We take seriously our responsibility to uphold these traditional, long-standing values of our company.”
Ann Coulter, frequent Fox News guest, to the Huffington Post:
“Oh boy, I have better details than that, from every woman who has ever been employed by Fox, which I have not.”
Megyn Kelly, as reported by Gabe Sherman in New York magazine:
“Kelly has told investigators that Ailes made unwanted sexual advances toward her about ten years ago when she was a young correspondent at Fox. Kelly, according to the sources, has described her harassment by Ailes in detail.”
Gretchen Carlson, former host of The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson, on Twitter: