Roger Ailes: Inside the Fox Kingmaker's Controversial Career Before Gretchen Carlson's Sexual Harassment Claims
Ailes is currently being sued by his former employee, Gretchen Carlson
Gretchen Carlson revealed on Wednesday that she’s suing network Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes for alleged sexual harassment and retaliation, a move that is sure to have significant fallout for both the dismissed Fox News anchor and her former boss.
According to papers obtained by PEOPLE, Carlson is alleging that her former employer “has unlawfully retaliated against Carlson and sabotaged her career because she refused sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment.”
Ailes has responded to the allegations in a statement obtained by PEOPLE, in which he calls the claims “retaliatory” and “offensive.”
This latest headline is just one of many – both good and bad – that Ailes, 76, has made in his decades as a political and media power player. Here’s what you should know about Roger Ailes.
Before cultivating TV talent, he has been highly influential on the Beltway.
Ailes was a media consultant for multiple Republican presidents including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, as well as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s first mayoral campaign in 1989. Though Ailes announced his withdrawal from political consulting in 1992, he stepped in to give President George W. Bush advice on how to handle public scrutiny following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
He has been the longtime CEO of Fox News.
Ailes became the founding CEO of Fox News in 1996 and was promoted to Chairman of the Fox Television Stations Group in 2005.
He has been accused of sexual misconduct before.
In 2014, Gabriel Sherman revealed the Chairman’s reputation for alleged untoward sexual behavior in his unauthorized biography, The Loudest Voice in the Room. Sherman interviewed 614 people, including former employees of Ailes, in the book to shed light on his rumored temper and aggressive behavior, according to The New York Times.
Television producer Randi Harrison told Sherman that while negotiating her salary with Ailes at NBC in the 1980s, he allegedly offered her an additional $100 each week “if you agree to have sex with me whenever I want.” At the time, a Fox News spokesperson released the following statement refuting the claims: “These charges are false. While we have not read the book, the only reality here is that Gabe was not provided any direct access to Roger Ailes and the book was never fact-checked with Fox News.”
Harrison took the job at Fox.
Ailes allegedly forbid female anchors to wear pants.
Sherman also claimed to have confirmed Ailes’ insistence on his female anchors’ displaying legs on Fox programs. (Carlson herself said in 2013 on Fox News radio that “pants were not allowed on Fox & Friends.)
An excerpt from The Loudest Voice in the Room alleges that Ailes “had admiration for [former Fox host Catherine Crier’s] legs” and was angry when he saw her wearing pants on-air, reportedly saying, “Tell Catherine I did not spend x-number of dollars on a glass desk for her to wear pant suits.”
According to a Fox source, “There is no edict not to wear pants.”
Megyn Kelly, Greta Van Susteren and Maria Bartiromo have worn pants on air.
Megyn Kelly has credited Ailes for her success.
Carlson’s and Sherman’s sources’ allegations notwithstanding, Ailes has a prominent champion in one of Fox News’ most respected anchors.
During Kelly’s public clash with presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, she made it abundantly clear on Fox News’ panel show The Five that she credits Ailes for her flourishing career. According to Business Insider, Kelly previously credited Ailes in 2014 for giving her the opportunity to improve her on-air skills so she could be the reporter she is today.