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Monica Lewinsky is blaming Roger Ailes — and to a lesser extent, Matt Drudge — for exploiting her relationship with President Bill Clinton so “mercilessly” that she considered suicide.
“Ailes, a former Republican political operative, took the story and the trial that followed and made certain his anchors hammered it ceaselessly,” Lewinsky writes in a New York Times opinion piece published Monday.
“My family and I huddled at home, worried about my going to jail — I was the original target of Ken Starr’s investigation, threatened with 27 years for having been accused of signing a false affidavit, obstructing justice, suborning perjury and other crimes — or worse, me taking my own life,” Lewinsky writes. “Meantime, Mr. Ailes huddled with his employees at Fox News, dictating a lineup of talking heads to best exploit this personal and national tragedy.”
Lewinsky acknowledges that Fox News wasn’t the only network with wall-to-wall coverage of the president’s sexual relationship with a White House intern, but she suggests the others were negatively influenced by the success Fox News was enjoying with its coverage two decades ago.
“Mr. Ailes’s station may have pioneered this new style of reportage, but the other cable news channels didn’t hesitate to join the race to the bottom,” she writes.
Lewinsky writes that her column isn’t meant as an obituary for Ailes, who died last week, one year after he was ousted at Fox News amid accusations of sexual harassment, but as “an obituary for the culture he purveyed.” That culture apparently included online bullying, she suggests.
Lewinsky notes that the story of her affair was not broken by an established outlet but by what was then a fledgling website called the Drudge Report.
“The comments on television and online were excruciating,” she writes. “I ceased being a dimensional person. Instead I became a whore, a bimbo, a slut and worse. Just days after the story broke, Fox asked its viewers to vote on this pressing question: Is Monica Lewinsky an ‘average girl’ or a ‘young tramp looking for thrills’?”
Lewinsky applauds top 21st Century Fox executives James and Lachlan Murdoch for dismissing Bob Beckel last week for allegedly racist comments directed at a black employee, and for cutting ties with Bill O’Reilly last month over accusations that he verbally harassed some female staffers at Fox News. Lewinsky also praises Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly for exposing the sex scandals allegedly perpetrated by Ailes.
She ends her column with: “So, farewell to the age of Ailes. The late Fox chief pledged Americans fair and balanced news. Maybe now we’ll get it.”
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