According to Washington Post’s media columnist Margaret Sullivan, the independent investigation into Roger Ailes’ sexual harassment at Fox News is “winding down” - even though reporting has indicated that the harassment and its cover up extend beyond Ailes and into other upper-level executives at Fox.
On Reliable Sources yesterday, Sullivan said the following to host Brian Stelter about the independent investigation, launched by parent company 21st Century Fox in the wake of former host Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes:
SULLIVAN: Brian, what I’m understanding, not from direct contact with the company, because they haven’t spoken to me directly, but what I believe is the case is that the investigation, the internal investigation, is winding down now, and that troubles me because I think this goes beyond Roger Ailes and is pervasive at Fox, and I think that there needs to be a culture change there. I’m not sure that’s going to happen.
Sullivan was probably referring to reporting by Gabriel Sherman, especially his Friday bombshell that provided lurid details of the sexual harassment of former employee Laurie Luhn that went on for 20 years. As I wrote, Sherman’s more important but less prurient details revealed that a number of top-level Fox executives at the very least aided and abetted keeping a disturbed employee on the payroll merely because she was a “friend of Roger.” They also assisted in paying her what amounted to hush money when she left.
Stelter noted that he has heard through sources that the Murdochs say they knew nothing about what was happening. But, he added, “I think we need to hear from them on the record.”
Yesterday, New York Times media reporter Jim Rutenberg reminded us that Roger Ailes, Political Titan, would never have existed were it not for Rupert Murdoch:
Without Mr. Murdoch’s nearly unconditional support, Mr. Ailes would never have been able to make Fox News the political-media earthmover it became.
It was right at home in Mr. Murdoch’s global media business, whose news properties already had a record of nudging — more like shoving — politics to the right on at least three continents, often with the same raucous populism that’s so identified with Fox.
Mr. Murdoch’s new role as the interim chief of Fox News, pending the naming of a successor to Mr. Ailes, is a genius move. If there’s anyone whose understanding of the network’s core audience of older white traditionalists is close to that of Mr. Ailes, it is Mr. Murdoch.
In other words, there’s every reason to believe Rupert Murdoch will want to rock the Fox News boat as little as possible – not including the fact that, as Rutenberg also notes, the network is a cash cow for the parent corporation. So it makes plenty of business sense for Murdoch and 21st Century Fox to scapegoat the now-departed Ailes and claim to have cleaned house.
But will they be able to? That’s the million, no, billion dollar question. Putting aside the Murdoch sons wild card role (which Rutenberg also discusses), there’s a big part for the media to play here. Stelter and another guest, Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik spelled it out in this later exchange:
STELTER: Zurawik, let’s talk through what happened this week. We haven’t heard from Ailes, we haven’t heard from the Murdochs. We did read this new Gabriel Sherman story alleging a 20-year pattern of abuse of a booker at Fox News. What more do you think we need to know? What more does Fox need to tell the media reporters like us, about what happened with Ailes?
ZURAWIK: I think we absolutely, Brian, need to know who else in that chain of command knew about this and allowed it to happen. If you just had knowledge of it, if you were a producer or a senior producer, an executive producer, management executive, and you just had knowledge of this kind of vile, predatory behavior that’s alleged, you need to be out of there.
I mean, listen, I’ve been doing this a long time. I cannot remember—and I have sometimes very low opinions of some of the people in this business, myself included, because we’re so competitive. But this story has absolutely sickened me at what was going on there in terms of the misuse of power over these people who you almost had to go along with it if you were a victim if you wanted to have any chance to survive in that organization. That’s a horrible situation. You can’t just walk away and say Roger Ailes is out, and Roger Ailes, by the way, denies everything, speaking of false equivalency. People say Roger Ailes did this bad stuff, he says he didn’t, OK, let’s move on. That’s what they’d like. That’s not going to happen, and I’ll tell you what. Sherman’s been doing just fantastic work on this. I think all of us, there’s a lot of other people involved, all of us have to stay on this case, and I think Margaret’s right, we can’t let it just go away, we have to ask who knew in that culture that this was going on and stay with it.
Amen to that.
Watch the discussion below, from CNN’s July 30 Reliable Sources.
All the ladies in the wardrobe and hair/makeup department, past and present, need to come forward and out these sexecutive predators to all the masses.
Ladies in the publicity department, past and present, are obligated to expose these low-end frauds.
The advertising/sales department. Come forward and tell the masses about this clown.
It’s the duty of 21st Century Fox to oust Goofy Doocy, Bill Shine, and Fin Fin. If they don’t we will continue to tell the masses through all media about the conduct violations of 21st Century Fox associates, and it extends beyond Fox “News.”
What do you know?
NOTE TO MURDOCHS
You are personally responsible for the pain and suffering of all these female Fox “News” / Business associates. We encourage any attorney to file a class-action lawsuit against 21st Century Fox for allowing female associates to work in a hostile environment.