10 Takeaways From Vanity Fair's Story on Roger Ailes' Final Days
Ailes and his wife were reportedly outraged by Megyn Kelly's alleged accusations against him.
Vanity Fair published a close look at Roger Ailes' final days as the head of Fox News in the wake of Gretchen Carlson's sexual harassment lawsuit.
The magazine details the important role Rupert Murdoch's sons Lachlan and James played in how 21st Century Fox handled the Ailes crisis and also takes a look at how Ailes reacted throughout the process.
Here are 10 takeaways from the Vanity Fair article (which can be read in full here):
1. Gretchen Carlson had been planning the suit for almost a year.
Carlson had been working with her attorney to gather evidence for a possible lawsuit against Ailes since fall of 2015. She had recorded a number of conversations with Ailes and had planned to file the suit in September 2016 but the process was sped up when Fox didn't renew her contract.
2. Lachlan and James Murdoch played a key role in the decision to investigate Ailes.
Rupert Murdoch was unavailable to weigh in when the Carlson news first unfolded because he was on a plane. His sons Lachlan, executive co-chairman of Fox and co-chairman of News Corp., and James, CEO of 21st Century Fox, both made the decision to conduct an internal investigation into Ailes rather than automatically defend him. This was on the suggestion of 21st Century Fox's general counsel, Gerson Zweifach.
3. Ailes and his wife wanted to harshly criticize Megyn Kelly for not defending him.
Beth Ailes personally reached out to Kelly twice to ask her to issue a statement in support of Roger. Kelly said she had been advised not to speak publicly about the matter, and Beth reportedly called the anchor "cold." Kelly had reportedly already spoken to Lachlan Murdoch about "the general dismay among some staff, which she shared, about the pressure to come to Ailes' aid and paint him as a white knight."
Later, Ailes wanted Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti to issue a comment that "Everyone has the right to remain silent" but Briganti refused. Beth Ailes reportedly "advocated attacking Kelly through friendly media outlets, such as Breitbart News" and asked conservative Fox News radio host Todd Starnes to write a blog post about Kelly's silence, which he declined to do.
4. The internal investigation revealed multiple women had complaints about Ailes.
The Paul Weiss legal firm interviewed at least 24 women from Fox News about sexual harassment complaints involving Ailes, and some of the highest-profile anchors were involved. Many of the accounts shared a "distinct similarity," and "oral sex was mentioned frequently." Several women reportedly recorded conversations with Ailes.
5. Ailes kept two guns in his office and a camera outside.
The magazine reports some of Ailes' colleagues described him as acting "more paranoid" and "secretive" in recent years. He reportedly had a Glock handgun and a Smith & Wesson handgun in his office, and had a camera outside of his door because he was afraid for his personal safety.
6. Ailes consulted Donald Trump for legal advice.
Ailes reportedly consulted with Trump about what he should do following Carlson's lawsuit, and Trump suggested Ailes hire an attorney who specialized in bankruptcy and commercial litigation. Another person Ailes consulted with, attorney Arthur Aidala, told Ailes to avoid hiring anyone connected to Trump since being associated with him was "too unpredictable."
Part of Ailes' separation agreement with Fox News was a noncompete clause that would prohibit him from working with a rival network or starting his own, but allowed him to work on a presidential campaign.
7. Rudy Giuliani tried to participate in the internal investigation.
Giuliani reportedly asked to actively take part in Paul Weiss' investigation and 21st Century Fox's general counsel refused to let him.
8. Ailes' lawyer said she accidentally leaked the news of Ailes' payout to Matt Drudge.
Lead defense attorney Susan Estrich said she was trying to send a story to Matt Drudge with a file containing positive comments Megyn Kelly had made about Ailes in the past, when she sent the wrong attachment. That attachment was a draft of Ailes' separation agreement and $40 million payout. Some people claim that Estrich did this on purpose to make Ailes' exit seem triumphant, but she says it was a mistake.
9. Fox cut off Ailes' access to the office building.
Rupert reportedly asked Ailes to resign on July 18. On July 20, 21st Century Fox's head of security asked Ailes' driver to delay his arrival at the office building so the team could disconnect his phone and email and deprogram his access cards.
10. Murdoch's sons compiled a dossier on Wendi Deng's alleged infidelity.
In an aside in the story, the reporter talks about another time Lachlan and James intervened with their father's relationship with someone. They reportedly confronted Rupert with a "dossier they had compiled" on Rupert's third wife Deng, and talked about the suspicions they had about her infidelity, including a possible affair with Tony Blair (an allegation he denies.) Rupert has since moved on to his fourth wife, Jerry Hall.