In addition to harassing his female staff, former Fox CEO Roger Ailes reportedly used corporate funds to run smear campaigns against journalists and others. Some of the operatives were familiar on-air names such as Andrea Tantaros and Bo Dietl.
Today’s reporting from Gabriel Sherman reveals that one of the results of Ailes’ disgraced departure from Fox News is new scrutiny over how he spent corporate funds. During his tenure, Ailes seemingly had a blank check that enabled him to make payouts for sexual harassment claims. But, apparently, Ailes also freely used money for “Black Room” operations:
[…] Ailes was also able to use portions of the Fox budget to hire consultants, political operatives, and private detectives that reported only to him, according to a senior Fox source. Last week, according to the source, Fox News dismissed five consultants whom Ailes had hired to do work that was more about advancing his own agenda than Fox’s. One of the consultants, Bert Solivan, ran negative PR campaigns against Ailes’s personal and political enemies out of Fox News headquarters, a source said. A Fox News spokesperson confirmed: “Solivan was recently informed that his services were no longer needed.” Solivan, who had previously worked for Fox News as a general manager of the channel’s website, did not respond to requests for comment.
According to one highly-placed source, Solivan worked out of what Fox insiders called “the Black Room,” an operation Ailes established around 2011 to conduct PR and surveillance campaigns against people he targeted both inside and outside the company. The “Black Room” was located on the 14th floor of the News Corp building at 1211 Avenue of the Americas, a quiet part of the office that housed Fox News Latino and some marketing and promotions employees. Fox employees Ken LaCorte and Jim Pinkerton, veteran political operatives who’ve worked with Ailes since the 1980s, also worked with Solivan, the source said, adding that Ailes’s personal lawyer, and Fox contributor, Peter Johnson Jr. advised the team. (In an email, Peter Johnson denied any involvement in “Black Room” campaigns, saying, “The only online campaign I’m aware of is yours attempting to create a truth from a fiction with this account.”)
So, in addition to serving as Ailes’ personal lawyer and likely stand-in, as a "legal analyst" and guest host on Fox News, Peter Johnson’s duties appear to include assisting in going after those on Ailes’ enemies list.
You may also recognize the name “Jim Pinkerton” as a long-time Fox guest. He is also the guy reportedly behind Ailes' Fox-shilling blog, The Cable Game. The site went dormant for a while but was revived of late. By coincidence, its most recent post is dated July 10, 2016. That’s shortly after Gretchen Carlson filed her bombshell sexual harassment lawsuit that started Ailes’ downward spiral and shortly before it was reported that it was only a matter of time before Ailes would be fired.
Some of the bigger “Black Room” targets were Gawker staffers; the former editor of the Ailes-owned Putnam County News & Recorder, Joe Lindsley; and Sherman, himself. And here’s where you might recognize some more familiar names. From Sherman’s report, with my emphases:
In April 2011, Lindsley had a falling out with Ailes and quit the paper along with two co-workers. Ailes assigned private investigators to follow Lindsley around Putnam County. He also asked Fox host Andrea Tantaros, whom Ailes had once seated next to Lindsley at a dinner party at Ailes’s home, to contact Lindsley and report back on his whereabouts, two sources said. Meanwhile, Solivan posted negative comments about Lindsley on blogs, a source said.
I was also the target of an operation, a highly-placed source told me: In 2012, while I was researching a biography of Ailes, Fox operatives set up web pages to attack my reputation, and Fox funds paid for Google search ads against my name that linked to the sites. One source also said private investigators employed by Fox contributor Bo Dietl were instructed to follow me and my wife. (Dietl’s firm was used to track Andrea Mackris, the producer who accused Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment in 2004, the source said). When reached by phone, Dietl said: “I have no real comments. I love Roger Ailes. He built one of the great news channels out of nothing. He’s a very successful guy.”
Investigations into Ailes’ use of Fox’s funds may incriminate other executives not only in these activities but also as having helped to cover up Ailes’ sexual harassments via payments of hush money, e.g.
But for me, it’s the media malpractice, stupid. Sherman tweeted earlier today that Ailes’ smear campaigns are further proof that he "created Fox as an anti-journalism organization.”
That’s a key point, in my opinion. And just as important is the fact that it appears at least four talking heads presented to us as analysts – and in the case of Tantaros and Johnson, sometime hosts – were all in.
Watch O'Reilly warn Hillary Clinton that "we'll have something to say about it" if she doesn't stay away from "smear merchants," from the April 13, 2015 O'Reilly Factor.
Losing money and lifelong ignominy are just not harsh enough punishment for the scum that they are.
And using FOX “news” money to do this? WTF?! I sure hope the Murdochs go after Ailes as opposed to simply sweeping this under the rug in an effort to make it go away.
As to BOR, he IS a smear merchant himself. He’s a lot like Ailes – he has his enemies list (in both his professional and personal life) and he goes after them. I would advise Hillary to stay away from BOR and his show – BOR’s agenda is clear and I doubt his audience is going to throw any votes to her anyway.
Btw, Mediate is reporting that Tantaros has come forward as also having been sexually harassed by Ailes. She is saying that VP Bill Shine suggested that she shouldn’t report the harassment. FOX “news”, of course, is denying her claim.
Bo Dietl and Peter Johnson, Jr. should lose their license to practice in the State of New York.
Disgraced former Fox “News” leader Ailes does not like Newshounds-for obvious reasons. Well, we have news for him. We will encourage every single female who worked at this hideous network to come forward and talk to
Want to have fun with the Gamers? Tweet this!
1. Strange that The Cable Game is silent on the scandals hitting Fox News Channel. Why are they protecting Ailes?
2. 21st Century Fox executives need to investigate the people behind The Cable Game. Who is funding this site?
3. Grand larceny is a crime. Will 21st Century Fox prosecute people?
4. Never heard of The Cable Game? Here’s the scoop.
NOTE TO 21ST CENTURY FOX EXECUTIVES
All 21st Century Fox associates are watching this case closely. The use of company funds for other purposes is theft. You are obligated to prosecute anyone who uses company funds for personal use.
NOTE TO FOX NEWS FORMER AND CURRENT EMPLOYEES
We encourage you to contact attorneys Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and tell them everything that went on at this network. Every little detail no matter how small. Tell them about the senior management. Tell them about other on-air talent involved in questionable activities, and you know who they are.
NOTE TO THE CABLE GAME
Looking for story suggestions for your blog? We think this topic is perfect: Living With a Felony
Let’s educate the readers of what is considered a felony charge: Robbery, theft, accessory to a crime, etc. We should point out that people living with a felony are not allowed to vote in certain states. This means if a person works in the political arena, their careers are over. No political party or organization would not want to associate with that person with a felony record. Felons face restrictions on owning a gun. In some cases, they are not allowed to own one. Want a bank loan? Forget it. Want a job? Good luck. A felony ruins your credit score. This felony lives with you for the rest of your life.
Provide tips on avoiding a felony charge. Think twice before committing a crime. Don’t associate with an individual who has committed a crime. Walk away quickly. Being an accessory to a crime is just as bad. That person would be charged with a felony, too. Again, emphasize that a felony lives with that person for the rest of their lives. Good luck with the story.
Something I was wondering about too was how much scrutiny Ailes may have put on the modest little corner of the world known as Newshounds. For anybody watching, here’s a big ol Bronx cheer! :?
Anyone who participated in these smear campaigns should be very concerned about following in McTiernan’s footsteps.
The real news is that the republican faithful think these kinds of dirty tricks are just fine and dandy as long as republicans benefit.
That’s the story. Newshounds should run that angle.