Alisyn Camerota Accuses Roger Ailes of Harassment at Fox News

Fox News faced new sexual harassment allegations on Sunday as Alisyn Camerota, a former anchor, accused the former Fox News chief Roger E. Ailes of saying “grossly inappropriate” things to her and once inviting her to a hotel room when she asked for new opportunities at work.

Mr. Ailes was ousted in July from the network he built into a conservative media powerhouse after multiple employees, including the former anchor Gretchen Carlson, accused him of sexual harassment. Ms. Camerota added her voice to that chorus on Sunday during an interview on the CNN show “Reliable Sources.”

“Yes, Roger Ailes did sexually harass me,” she said.

“I remember being in Roger’s office saying I wanted more opportunities,” Ms. Camerota recalled, “and he said: ‘Well, I would have to work with you — 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 am saying?’”

Susan Estrich, a lawyer for Mr. Ailes, denied Ms. Camerota’s claims in a statement to CNN.

“These are unsubstantiated and false allegations,” Ms. 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’s editorial policy.”

Mr. Ailes resigned from Fox News after a law firm hired by 21st Century Fox, the network’s parent company, took statements from at least six women who said he had behaved inappropriately toward them. But the network’s sexual harassment problems did not go away when he did.

Bill O’Reilly, a two-decade fixture at the network and the host of its most popular program, was forced out last week after a New York Times investigation found that Fox or Mr. O’Reilly had paid five women about $13 million to settle harassment claims against him. Public protests, some outside Fox’s New York office, led to an advertiser revolt.

Mr. O’Reilly has not appeared on television in almost two weeks but is set to make his first on-air comments since his exit on his podcast, “No Spin News.” An advertisement for the podcast, which requires a paid subscription, appeared on his personal website, declaring: “Monday. The No Spin News returns.”

On Sunday, Ms. Camerota, who worked at Fox News for more than 15 years before joining CNN in 2014, said that she had decided to ignore Mr. Ailes’s advances in an attempt to forge ahead with her career, but that she had soon begun to suffer “emotional harassment” at the hands of her boss. She said Mr. Ailes would angrily “boom and bellow” at her when he thought she was failing to inject conservative commentary into her news reports.

“He targeted me because he sort of figured out early on that I didn’t share his worldview,” said Ms. Camerota, who added she did not want to include a political slant in her reporting. She said Mr. Ailes repeatedly told her, “You could be a real role model and a real star if only you could sound conservative.”

Ms. Camerota said on Sunday that she was hopeful the departure of both Mr. Ailes and Mr. O’Reilly meant Fox News might develop a stricter attitude toward sexual harassment. Mr. Ailes’s behavior “certainly had an impact in terms of the culture and the feeling there,” she said.

“Roger was the king, and obviously everything trickled down from him,” Ms. Camerota said. “So when he said grossly inappropriate things about women’s bodies, there was a feeling there that that’s more appropriate, and you’re not going to get in trouble for that.”

Alisyn Camerota last year. On Sunday, during an interview on the CNN show “Reliable Sources,” she said that while they were at Fox News, Roger E. Ailes once invited her to a hotel room. Credit Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Operation Smile


CNN's Alisyn Camerota: Roger Ailes sexually harassed me

For a long time Alisyn Camerota was reluctant to describe the dark side of working at Fox News.

She respects many of her former colleagues. She has close friends who work there. But she perceives that something has changed now that the channel's CEO Roger Ailes and biggest star Bill O'Reilly have been ousted by the Murdoch family.

"It feels as though, if I take the Murdochs at their word, they really want to know what was wrong there and what the culture was like," Camerota said.

And there was something profoundly wrong. In an interview on CNN's "Reliable Sources," Camerota said publicly for the first time that she was one of Ailes' targets.

"Yes, Roger Ailes did sexually harass me," Camerota said.

Other prominent Fox anchors and reporters have made similar charges. Ailes resigned under pressure last July after another longtime anchor, Gretchen Carlson, sued him and the Murdochs retained an outside law firm to investigate the allegations.

Another accuser, Fox contributor Julie Roginsky, filed suit against Ailes and Fox News earlier this month. Through his lawyers, Ailes has strongly denied all of the allegations.

On Sunday an attorney for Ailes, Susan Estrich, denied Camerota's account.

"These are unsubstantiated and false allegations," she 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."

Camerota worked at Fox for more than a decade as a reporter and weekend anchor, so she interacted with Ailes extensively. In 2014 she moved from Fox to CNN.

"Let me be clear," she said in the interview. "Roger Ailes was -- could be charming. He could be quite charismatic. He could be uproariously funny. He could also be a bit of a bully, and mean. And he also was often kind of grossly inappropriate with things that he would say, and I think that many of us experienced that. He would talk about body parts. He would say 'Give me a spin.' He would want to be greeted with a hug."

"But the time that I remember most," she said, "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. He said 'Well, I would have to work with you. I would have to work with you on 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.'"

Camerota said she didn't tell anyone at the time. "I was embarrassed, and it is sort of humiliating," she said.
She knew she'd never go to that hotel with him, but she wondered if her career was over. She said she wondered, "Will I be fired if I don't do this?"

After Camerota rebuffed Ailes' advance, "he changed his MO" and bullied her about her presentation of the news.
"It was sort of emotional harassment," she said. "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."

Ailes, a longtime Republican operative, sometimes lectured and insulted Camerota "because he thought that I wasn't reflecting the conservative agenda."

She said she would push back, arguing that her job as a journalist was to present both conservative and liberal viewpoints. "He said 'there is no other side.' In Roger's world view, there was no other side. Liberals were always wrong, conservatives were generally right, and that's what he felt that we should be reflecting on the air."
Toward the end of her time at Fox, Camerota recalled, "I started refusing to go to Roger's office."

Bill O'Reilly, who stands accused of harassment by other former Fox News staffers, never harassed Camerota, she said. When asked if the Ailes and O'Reilly resignations show that Fox was "rotten at its core," Camerota said no, "there are tons of good people there. There are real journalists. They are trying to do their jobs."

"I think that there was a lot of suffering in silence and people who felt humiliated and people who felt scared and people who felt intimidated," she said, but now, she hopes, those people are feeling more free to address what was wrong about the culture.


CNN anchor alleges Fox News ex-CEO Roger Ailes also harassed her

Television journalist Alisyn Camerota said on Sunday she was a target of sexual harassment by Roger Ailes when she worked at Fox News, joining other former colleagues at the cable channel who have accused their ex-boss of inappropriate behavior.

Camerota, now co-host of CNN's "New Day," told that network's Brian Stelter in an interview that Ailes suggested they might have to get to "know each other better" at a hotel if she wanted to succeed at Fox News.

"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 or my career," she said. "I remember thinking, 'Is this it?'"

In the interview with Stelter, Camerota expanded on comments she made last week on her own show, when she said she had experienced "emotional harassment" at Fox and the culture at the network made it impossible to stop.

The fresh allegations came just days after Fox's parent company Twenty-First Century Fox Inc severed ties with its biggest star, Bill O'Reilly, over sexual harassment claims.

His show, "The O'Reilly Factor," began losing advertisers in the wake of a New York Times report that Fox News had paid $13 million to five women to settle harassment allegations against him.

The accusations have cost Fox News dearly in both reputation and money. O'Reilly is expected to get a payout of up to $25 million following his ouster, while Ailes received a package of approximately $40 million when he was forced out as chief executive of Fox News in July. Both men have denied any wrongdoing.

"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," said Ailes' lawyer, Susan Estrich, of Camerota's allegations.

Estrich also pointed out that Camerota thanked Ailes in a 2014 statement when she left Fox News, saying she was "honored to have his mentorship and guidance now and in the future."

Camerota, who worked at Fox News for 16 years, told Stelter that Ailes frequently directed inappropriate comments to female employees about body parts and made remarks such as, "Give me a spin."

"Roger Ailes could be charming, he could be quite charismatic, he could be uproariously funny," she said. "He could also be a bit of a bully and mean, and he also was often kind of grossly inappropriate with things that he would say."

Camerota said the conversation in which Ailes suggested they spend time together at a hotel came early in her career, when she was seeking advice on how to advance at Fox.

She said she chose to pretend it never happened, partly out of embarrassment.

"I think there was a lot of suffering in silence," she said.

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