CNN journalist and anchor Alisyn Camerota, who worked at Fox News for more than a decade, alleged on CNN’s Reliable Sources that she was sexually harassed by Roger Ailes, Fox’s ousted chairman.
In the Reliable Sources segment, Camerota described Ailes, calling him “charismatic” and “charming,” before saying he could be “a bit of a bully.” She went to CNN in 2014 from Fox News.
“He also was often kind of grossly inappropriate with things that he would say, and I think that many of us experienced that,” she said to host Brian Stelter, who was visibly surprised at her story. “He would talk about body parts. He would say, ‘Give me a spin.’ He would want to be greeted with a hug.”
Camerota’s account of Ailes’ behaviour comes at a time when Fox News is under the microscope for multiple cases of alleged sexual harassment and abuse. Former The O’Reilly Factor host, Bill O’Reilly, was removed from his job last week.
Over the past several years, O’Reilly had been accused of sexual harassment by various women. An explosive New York Times article outlined the accusations, triggering a massive backlash against Fox News, a slew of advertisers fleeing his talk-news show and his eventual dismissal.
Similarly, Ailes was pushed out of Fox News in July 2016 after allegations surfaced that he’d harassed several female employees, including high-profile celebrities and personalities. Camerota’s detailed account of what allegedly took place echoes earlier complaints against Ailes.
“The time that I remember most was when I was first starting out at Fox and I was single, and I remember Roger, being in Roger’s office, and I was saying that I wanted more opportunity,” described Camerota to Stelter. “He said, ‘Well, I would have to work with you. I would have to work with you [in] that case. I would have to work with you really closely, and it may require us getting to know each other better, and that might have to happen away from here, and it might have to happen at a hotel. Do you know what I’m saying?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I think I do know what you’re saying.'”
She said she felt an “out-of-body experience” after Ailes proposed a hotel meeting.
“I had an out-of-body experience, hovering over us in the office and thinking, ‘Is this it? Is this the end of my time here? Will I be fired if I don’t do this?’ I knew in my head, at that moment, I’m never going to that hotel under any circumstances, but I didn’t know what that meant for me and for my career. There is a visceral reaction that you have where you recognize, ‘My career and everything that I have worked for is under threat,'” she said.
After refusing Ailes’ advances, Camerota claimed that his behaviour towards her immediately changed. She said that he started criticizing her news delivery and work; she remained silent about it for fear of losing her employment, and called his actions “emotional harassment.”
“Roger Ailes ruled with an iron fist, and he wanted us all to fall in line and have his world view, and say the things that he wanted us to say on Fox News,” she said, referring to Ailes’ insistence that conservatism was the only correct point of view.
Camerota said that he would chastize her for not being conservative enough.
“Sometimes, he would lecture me,” she said. “Sometimes, he would insult me.”
Ailes’ lawyer, Susan Estrich, disputed all of Camerota’s accusations in a statement.
“These are unsubstantiated and false allegations,” Estrich said. “Mr. Ailes never engaged in the inappropriate conversations she now claims occurred, and he vigorously denies this fictional account of her interactions with him and of Fox News editorial policy.”