More Women Accuse Roger Ailes of Sexual Harassment

Roger Ailes - Publicity - H 2016
Wesley Mann/Courtesy of FOX News

Roger Ailes - Publicity - H 2016

The women detail incidents, dating back to the 1960s, in which the current Fox News chairman and CEO propositioned them.

At least six more women have come forward to accuse Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes of sexual harassment, telling their stories to New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman.

In a story posted Saturday morning, the women, only two of whom gave their real names with the others requesting pseudonyms, detail incidents in which Ailes either openly asked them to sleep with him or propositioned them in sexually explicit ways.

The two named women are former RNC field adviser Kellie Boyle and former model Marsha Callahan. The allegations date back to the 1960s, when Ailes worked for The Mike Douglas Show. In fact, all of the new allegations detail incidents that seem to occur before his Fox News tenure began.

The revelations come just days after former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment suit against Ailes. Carlson's attorney previously told The Hollywood Reporter that in the wake of media coverage of Carlson's suit, women across the country have come forward.

"We’re getting emails constantly this morning and this afternoon from women that say they have experienced similar behavior at the hands of Roger Ailes," Nancy Erika Smith said on Wednesday. Those women, Smith added, would be witnesses in Carlson's suit, not parties themselves. New York magazine claims that more than a dozen women have contacted Smith since Wednesday.

Carlson claimed in her suit that she was fired in late June after Ailes reduced her presence on primetime shows, docked her pay and shunned her because she refused to "engage in a sexual relationship or participate in sexual banter" with him. She also claimed that Ailes removed her from the Fox & Friends morning show in 2013 after she complained that her co-host Steve Doocy created a hostile work environment by engaging in sexual harassment.

Boyle claims that in 1989, around the time Ailes served as George H.W. Bush's media adviser, she met him through her husband, who worked for CNBC. Working in political communications for the RNC, she told Ailes that she was set to sign a contract with the National Republican Congressional Committee. Before she did, though, she and Ailes had dinner. As the two took a car ride to a friend's house, he told her, "You know if you want to play with the big boys, you have to lay with the big boys," she recalls. He claimed "that's the way it works," she says, naming other women he'd slept with. 

"He said that’s how all these men in media and politics work — everyone’s got their friend," Boyle recalls. "I said, ‘Would I have to be friends with anybody else?’ And he said, ‘Well you might have to give a blowjob every once in a while.’ I told him I was going to have to think about this. He said, ‘No, if you don’t do it now, you know that means you won’t.’"

After her meeting in Washington was abruptly canceled, Ailes called her and asked her if she'd changed her mind, Boyle says. She turned him down, pointing out that she was married and committed to her husband. A couple weeks later, a male friend who was high up in the RNC told her, "Word went out you weren’t to be hired," Boyle recalls.

Callahan claims that she was asked to wear a garter belt and stockings to a meeting with Ailes, then a producer on The Mike Douglas Show, in 1967 or 1968. In the meeting, he asked her to lift her skirt up and strike different poses, she says. He then indicated he'd hire her only if she slept with him and "a few of [his] select friends," she says.

Callahan recalls, "I said, ‘Well, if you think I have star quality and you can make money off my looks, I don’t think it’d matter if I went to bed with you or not.’ And he said, ‘Oh, pretty girls like you are a dime a dozen.’" The interview ended shortly after that, she says, and when she subsequently passed Roger in the hallway, "He pretended not to know who I was."

A former model going by the pseudonym of Susan says she was only 16 when Ailes propositioned her. It was 1967 and she had been sent over for a walk-on part on The Mike Douglas Show. He took her into an office and locked the door.

She continues, "He proceeded to pull down his pants and very gingerly pull out his genitals and said, 'Kiss them.' And they were red like raw hamburger … I was a kid, I’d never seen a man’s privates before." She says she jumped up and he chased her around the office before pulling up his pants and revealing he had recorded the whole thing, instructing her not to tell anyone about what happened.

Another former model and actress, going by the name of Jane, says "something sexual took place" during a meeting she had with Ailes in 1984, as her agent was trying to get her into broadcasting. He had her model a garter belt and stockings as well, she says.

"After that, something sexual took place, but I blocked it out of my mind," she says. "I don’t know if I engaged with him orally or he engaged with himself. I felt I was being used for his sexual satisfaction. I felt very threatened."

Although he wanted her to take the lingerie home for next time, she says she refused and left, adding that she regrets not telling Ailes off.

"Through the years, I felt like a horrible person because I allowed this to happen to me and I didn’t just say f— off and walk out of the room," she says. "My husband doesn’t even know."

A media consultant going by the name of Diane also says she remained silent about an incident with Ailes in 1965 or 1966, when she, too, was working as a model in the Philadelphia area and was called in, with some other girls, to meet with him for a skit on The Mike Douglas Show. He took the women behind closed doors one by one, she says. When it was her turn, he made a move and indicated she had to respond to his advances to get the job.

"He grabbed me and had his hands on me and he forced me to kiss him," she says. "When I recoiled he said, ‘Well, you know no girls get a job here unless they’re cooperative.’ I just pushed him away and ran out of there. He was like, whatever. So, no job for me. He did hire several of the girls from the group, but I don’t know what they had to do to get the job."

A former TV producer going by the name of Pat says she had an interview with Ailes at his Central Park South apartment in 1975, in which he indicated she needed to sleep with him to get ahead in the industry.

"I don’t remember his exact words, but his message was: If you want to make it in New York City in the TV business, you’re going to have to f— me, and you’re going to do that with anyone I tell you to," she recalls. "I was afraid he was going to pin me down. He was a big guy and I’m not big at all. He could have overpowered me. I remember running out of that apartment like my hair was on fire and standing on the sidewalk crying, thinking, 'What’s that guy think I was, a prostitute? In one second my dreams were shot. He’s going to blackball me everywhere, I’ll never get another interview, I’m not good enough' — all that stuff a 20-something girl thinks. It wasn’t, 'That guy’s a son of a bitch and I should have kicked him in the balls.'"

In a statement released Wednesday, in response to Carlson's suit, Ailes claimed her "allegations are false," calling her lawsuit "defamatory," "offensive" and "wholly without merit" and said it would be "defended vigorously."

"This is a retaliatory suit for the network's decision not to renew her contract, which was due to the fact that her disappointingly low ratings were dragging down the afternoon lineup," he continued. "When Fox News did not commence any negotiations to renew her contract, Ms. Carlson became aware that her career with the network was likely over and conveniently began to pursue a lawsuit. Ironically, Fox News provided her with more on-air opportunities over her 11-year tenure than any other employer in the industry, for which she thanked me in her recent book. This defamatory lawsuit is not only offensive, it is wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously."

On Friday, Ailes requested that the dispute be moved to confidential arbitration, citing a provision in her contract. Carlson's team responded in part, "It is disturbing that the head of a large media company would try to silence the press and hide from the public a matter of such importance."

In response to Saturday's New York magazine story, Ailes' outside counsel Barry Asen, of Epstein, Becker and Green, released the following statement, linking to various articles that have been published since Carlson filed her suit: "It has become obvious that Ms. Carlson and her lawyer are desperately attempting to litigate this in the press because they have no legal case to argue. The latest allegations, all 30 to 50 years old, are false."

In response, Carlson's attorneys released a statement slamming Ailes' lawyer for trying to silence the women who spoke out about "trauma they endured years ago that haunts them to this day."

“Yesterday in a statement to the press ('litigating in the press'), an Ailes spokesperson challenged Gretchen's lawyers to come forward with other victims of Ailes' sexual harassment to speak on the record," Carlson's attorneys, Nancy Erika Smith and Martin Hyman, said in a statement obtained by THR. "Today, six brave women voluntarily spoke out to New York magazine detailing their traumatic sexual harassment by Ailes. We are hearing from others. Then, Barry Asen, Ailes' lawyer, accused Gretchen of 'litigating in the press' and, without any investigation, within three hours, claimed that the allegations are false. How does he know that? Women have the right to speak out — whether Ailes likes it or not — even about trauma they endured years ago and that haunts them to this day. Calling these women liars because they chose to speak out is despicable. Bullying and threats will not silence these brave women.”

In a series of tweets posted Saturday afternoon, Fox News anchor Sean Hannity defended Ailes and said he'd talked to "hundreds of women" at Fox this week who claim Carlson's claims are "BS."

July 9, 12:49 p.m. Updated with statement from Carlson's attorneys.

July 9, 1:28 p.m. Updated with Sean Hannity's tweets.