Fresh Lawsuit Against Ailes Slams Fox News' Response To Harassment Claims : The Two-Way Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky says in the complaint that the network's past chairman, Roger Ailes, made unwanted sexual advances while leading her to believe that a big promotion would follow.
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Fresh Lawsuit Against Ailes Slams Fox News' Response To Harassment Claims

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Fresh Lawsuit Against Ailes Slams Fox News' Response To Harassment Claims

Fresh Lawsuit Against Ailes Slams Fox News' Response To Harassment Claims

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Just today, another woman has filed a harassment lawsuit against Fox News and its former chairman, Roger Ailes. She is Julie Roginsky. She's an on-air contributor at the network. And she alleges that Ailes sexually harassed her and that she faced retaliation from Fox News's current president and its top lawyer. NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik broke the story and joins us now from our New York studios. Hey there.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Hey there.

MCEVERS: So we have to first remember that Ailes was forced to leave last year because of allegations by other women who worked for Fox News. What does Julie Roginsky say that Ailes did?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, in many ways her allegations track closely to those that were made by Gretchen Carlson last summer in the initial lawsuit that ultimately led to Ailes's ouster by his bosses at 21st Century Fox. Roginsky said that Ailes effectively offered her a job as host of the popular early evening show "The Five" which would have been a big bump in pay and profile and also in prospects to make more money off the air. But he connected those conversations with talk about her personal life, surprised that she was still single, questions about who she was dating and, you know, urging her to date - according to the lawsuit - older married conservative men, which is a demographic that precisely fits a guy named Roger Ailes himself.

When she declined to have a private drink with him away from the eyes of others, which he said might get them in so much trouble, he stopped the conversation. He never talked to her about a job again and, in fact, never agreed to meet with her one more time.

MCEVERS: In her lawsuit, Roginsky also has allegations against other top executives at Fox News. What are those?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, she alleges that when Fox News President Bill Shine, a longtime deputy to Ailes, and when the network's long-time general counsel chief lawyer Dianne Brandi became aware of her complaints about Ailes' behavior, they did nothing to investigate it. They did nothing to encourage her to submit to, you know, human resources review or to an inquiry that had been set up with an outside law firm by the Murdoch family, which controls the parent company to Fox News.

So they said that basically they turned a blind eye to her allegations in terms of its substance and that they also then passed over her for jobs that she felt she was qualified for as retaliation for speaking up about her complaints and also for refusing to defend Ailes against the complaints of people like Gretchen Carlson.

MCEVERS: So much has gone right for Fox recently. They've got huge ratings now in the era of President Trump but yet this scandal's been going on for months. How far does it go?

FOLKENFLIK: We've got to think about all they're taking on. There have been so many women who have made these accusations against Roger Ailes, all of which, by the way, he denies, including earlier today Roginsky's allegations. But, you know, new scrutiny has been cast on the settlements that Bill O'Reilly and that Fox News has paid to women who have accused him of sexual harassment over the years. Those awards according to The New York Times have totaled $13 million.

And, you know, there's recently - the network fired its longtime comptroller, a senior financial official at the network, after they said they substantiated allegations that she had created a racially hostile workplace and been racially discriminatory against employees there.

MCEVERS: What does all this say about the oversight by Fox News's leadership team and by the Murdoch family that controls the parent company, 21st Century Fox?

FOLKENFLIK: You know, it's hard to believe if the Murdoch family were not the controlling owner of this publicly-traded corporation, 21st Century Fox, that Bill Shine, as the president, longtime deputy to Ailes, would still be there, that Dianne Brandi, the general counsel, would still be there. Questions have been raised about how some of those payments were done.

You know, right now there's a federal investigation involving a grand jury into whether or not the payments over the years to women who accused Roger Ailes of sexual harassment were masked in a way to hide it from investors. That could be a serious criminal offense if proven and validated, as well. So there are a lot of different ways in which the leadership at Fox News and at the parent company, 21st Century, Fox are called into question by this lawsuit and by the sequence and series of issues that are invoked by what's set out in those court papers.

MCEVERS: NPR's David Folkenflik, thank you so much.

FOLKENFLIK: You bet.

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