Stakes Are Raised In Sexual Harassment Suit Against Fox News Chief Ailes
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And in other news, the stakes have been raised in the sexual harassment lawsuit against the chairman of Fox News. Roger Ailes has filed a series of countermotions to get the suit from former anchor Gretchen Carlson, out of court and out of the public eye. Yet this weekend, other women have stepped forward to detail what they say are similar allegations against Ailes. NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik joins us now from our studios in New York. Good morning, David.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: And to remind listeners, Carlson alleges that she complained for years of sexist work conditions as co-host of "Fox and Friends," and that Roger Ailes' response was to sexually harass her, even to proposition her last fall. And now he responded over the weekend.
FOLKENFLIK: Well, aides to Mr. Ailes shared with NPR and other media outlets two things. First off, he shared a number of handwritten notes that Carlson had written to him, thanking him for the opportunities he had offered her over the years and imploring him for more. He also released a memo he sent in mid-September of last year. And the reason that that matters is that was just a few days after that meeting in September where Carlson alleges she was sexually propositioned, effectively, by Ailes.
And in that memo, he sent a note to Bill Shine, the senior executive in charge of programming, saying, let's give Gretchen Carlson another chance. Let's give her the opportunity for a primetime show. And let's give her a promotion and monitor her ratings, which underscores, according to Ailes' aides, the idea that her demotion from "Fox and Friends" a few years back was not retaliation for her complaints. And her - the decision to allow her contract to lapse late last month was driven by her rating scores and not by any rebuff of any sexual advance, an advance that he rejects ever took place.
MONTAGNE: And Ailes' lawyers are also making arguments. What are they saying?
FOLKENFLIK: Well, she filed this suit in New Jersey a few days ago. And his lawyers are striking back and saying look, she had a contract with Fox News. And this contract stipulates that if there's any dispute over the nature of the contract being unfairly enforced or wrongly enacted, that she has to take that to binding and confidential arbitration here in New York City, that she can't be suing in court. She can't be taking this to New Jersey. Her lawyers point out she never sued Fox News. She didn't sue the parent corporation 21st Century Fox, that, in fact, she's filing a suit against Roger Ailes as an individual. And she's - they're arguing - her lawyers are arguing, in fact, it's not enforceable, this arbitration clause. And we're going to see, probably, a judge have to decide that very question.
MONTAGNE: And these other women who have come forward?
FOLKENFLIK: Well, they came forward, first, in interviews with New York magazine. But they came forward - two of them by name - to offer very similar allegations. I spoke to one of them Marsha Callahan yesterday. She was a model. This was almost five decades ago, but she said that when Ailes was a producer of "The Mike Douglas Show," in the late '60s, he made a very similar sexual proposition to her if she wanted to appear on the show. She declined. She never got a shot.
MONTAGNE: All right. Well, I'm sure more to come. NPR's David Folkenflik, speaking to us from New York. Thanks a lot.
FOLKENFLIK: You bet.
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