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Nobody Here But Us Chickens: Murdoch Whistle Blower Found Dead

COMMENT: A Mur­doch whis­tle blow­er, cen­tral to help­ing to expose the phone hack­ing scan­dal, has been found dead in his apart­ment.

In what seems to be almost oblig­a­tory down­play­ing of the sig­nif­i­cance of this event, the author­i­ties are already spin­ning this death as “not sus­pi­cious.”

Remem­ber that this case goes to the high­est lev­els of the British gov­ern­ment, and to Scot­land Yard, as well as to the Mur­doch empire.

The [now resigned] head of Scot­land Yard was also in charge of coun­tert­er­ror­ism for some time.

Note that Sean Hoare expressed fear for his life, before he was found dead, in cir­cum­stances that the author­i­ties imme­di­ate­ly labeled “not sus­pi­cious.”

And, of course, the media–chickens all–have gone along with this dance, as usu­al.

Recall, also, that, in addi­tion to his pro­found rela­tion­ship with the GOP and far right in this coun­try and the Unit­ed King­dom, Mur­doch’s sec­ond largest stock­hold­er is Prince Alwaleed, close­ly affil­i­at­ed with the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood.

“Police Say ‘No One Else Involved’ in Death of Phone-Hack­ing Whistle­blow­er Who ‘Feared Some­one Was Out to Get Him’ ” by Sam Green­hill, Tom Kel­ly and James Chap­man; Dai­ly Mail; 7/20/2011.

EXCERPT: The man who launched the entire phone hack­ing scan­dal had become a para­noid recluse who believed some­one was out to get him, a friend has revealed.

Sean Hoare, who was found dead at his flat in Wat­ford, Hert­ford­shire, had spent much of the last weeks of his life ‘hid­ing’ in his flat with the cur­tains drawn.

A post mortem exam­i­na­tion revealed that there was no third par­ty involve­ment in the death. Offi­cers are not treat­ing the death as sus­pi­cious although it will be sev­er­al weeks before they have full tox­i­col­o­gy results.

A friend and neigh­bour claimed Mr Hoare, 47, had become increas­ing­ly reclu­sive and para­noid in recent weeks.

‘He would talk about some­one from the Gov­ern­ment com­ing to get him,’ he said.

‘He’d say to me, “If any­one comes by, don’t say I’m in.” . . .

Discussion

27 comments for “Nobody Here But Us Chickens: Murdoch Whistle Blower Found Dead”

  1. There’s a 2 minute clip of News of the World joural­ist Paul McMul­lan’s 11/29 tes­ti­mo­ny in the ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion in this arti­cle. The entire tes­ti­mo­ny (which is a cspan so it might be avail­able in the cspan online archives) is worth watch­ing as a peep into the inner world of Mur­doch’s muck­rak­ing machine. The part where he dis­cuss­es his views on pri­va­cy is par­tic­u­lar­ly strik­ing to watch, but you real­ly have to hope the grow­ing num­ber of official/unofficial public/private sur­veil­lance-state employ­ees don’t agree too much:

    ‘Pri­va­cy Is For Pae­dos’ Paul McMul­lan Shocks Leve­son Inquiry Over Hack­ing Cul­ture
    The Huff­in­g­ton Post UK | Nov 29, 2011 11:38 AM EST

    For­mer News of the World reporter Paul McMul­lan has said phone hack­ing was a “school yard trick” and declared that “pri­va­cy is for pae­dos” in an explo­sive tes­ti­mo­ny before the Leve­son inquiry.
    In 21 years of invad­ing peo­ple’s pri­va­cy I’ve nev­er actu­al­ly come across any­one who’s been doing any good,” he told the hear­ing in Lon­don on Tues­day.
    “Pri­va­cy is the space bad peo­ple need to do bad things in. Pri­va­cy is for pae­dos; fun­da­men­tal­ly nobody else needs it.”

    ...

    Pri­va­cy is evil

    This mes­sage brought to you by “Big Broth­er Against Pae­dos” and cor­po­rate spon­sors.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 6, 2011, 10:51 pm
  2. More drip drip drip in the Snoop­ert Mur­de­roch’s hack­ing scandal...the hack­ing was­n’t lim­it­ed to phones and it was­n’t just used for spy­ing:

    Ques­tions for News Corp over rival’s col­lapse

    Soft­ware com­pa­ny NDS alleged­ly cracked smart card codes of ONdig­i­tal, accord­ing to evi­dence to be broad­cast on Panora­ma

    David Leigh
    guardian.co.uk, Mon­day 26 March 2012 17.23 EDT

    Part of Rupert Mur­doch’s News Cor­po­ra­tion empire employed com­put­er hack­ing to under­mine the busi­ness of its chief TV rival in Britain, accord­ing to evi­dence due to be broad­cast by BBC1’s Panora­ma pro­gramme on Mon­day .

    The alle­ga­tions stem from appar­ent­ly incrim­i­nat­ing emails the pro­gramme-mak­ers have obtained, and on-screen descrip­tions for the first time from two of the peo­ple said to be involved, a Ger­man hack­er and the oper­a­tor of a pirate web­site secret­ly con­trolled by a Mur­doch com­pa­ny.

    The wit­ness­es allege a soft­ware com­pa­ny NDS, owned by News Corp, cracked the smart card codes of rival com­pa­ny ONdig­i­tal. ONdig­i­tal, owned by the ITV com­pa­nies Grana­da and Carl­ton, even­tu­al­ly went under amid a wel­ter of coun­ter­feit­ing by pirates, leav­ing the immense­ly lucra­tive pay-TV field clear for Sky.

    The alle­ga­tions, if proved, cast fur­ther doubt on whether News Corp meets the “fit and prop­er” test required to run a broad­cast­er in Britain. It emerged ear­li­er this month that broad­cast­ing reg­u­la­tor Ofcom has set up a unit called Project Apple to estab­lish whether BSkyB, 39.1% owned by News Corp, meets the test.

    Panora­ma’s emails appear to state that ONdig­i­tal’s secret codes were first cracked by NDS, and then sub­se­quent­ly pub­li­cised by the pirate web­site, called The House of Ill Com­pute – THOIC for short. Accord­ing to the pro­gramme, the codes were passed to NDS’s head of UK secu­ri­ty, Ray Adams, a for­mer police offi­cer. NDS made smart cards for Sky. NDS was joint­ly fund­ed by Sky, which says it nev­er ran NDS.

    Lee Gib­ling, oper­a­tor of THOIC, says that behind the scenes, he was being paid up to £60,000 a year by Adams, and NDS hand­ed over thou­sands more to sup­ply him with com­put­er equip­ment.

    He says Adams sent him the ONdig­i­tal codes so that oth­er pirates could use them to man­u­fac­ture thou­sands of coun­ter­feit smart cards, giv­ing view­ers illic­it free access to ONdig­i­tal, then Sky’s chief busi­ness rival.

    Gib­ling says he and anoth­er NDS employ­ee lat­er destroyed much of the com­put­er evi­dence with a sledge­ham­mer. After that NDS con­tin­ued to send him mon­ey, he says, until the end of 2008, when he was giv­en a sev­er­ance pay­ment of £15,000 with a con­fi­den­tial­i­ty clause attached. An expert hack­er, Oliv­er Koer­mmer­ling, who cracked the codes in the first place, says on the pro­gramme that he, like Gib­ling, had been recruit­ed on NDS’s behalf by Adams.

    The poten­tial­ly seis­mic nature of these pay-TV alle­ga­tions was under­lined over the week­end, when News Cor­p’s lawyers, Allen & Overy, sought to derail the pro­gramme in advance by send­ing round denials and legal threats to oth­er media organ­i­sa­tions. They said any forth­com­ing BBC alle­ga­tions that NDS “has been involved in ille­gal activ­i­ties designed to cause the col­lapse of a busi­ness rival” would be false and libel­lous, and demand­ed they not be repeat­ed.

    On the pro­gramme, for­mer Labour min­is­ter Tom Wat­son, who has been promi­nent in pur­suit of Mur­doch over the sep­a­rate News of the World phone-hack­ing scan­dals, pre­dicts that Ofcom could not con­ceiv­ably regard the Mur­dochs as “fit and prop­er” to take full con­trol of Sky, if the alle­ga­tions were cor­rect.

    James Mur­doch, who is deputy chief oper­at­ing offi­cer of News Corp and chair­man of BSkyB, was a non-exec­u­tive direc­tor of NDS when ONdig­i­tal was hacked. There is no evi­dence, the BBC says, that he knew about the events alleged by Panora­ma.

    Gib­ling told the pro­gramme: “There was a meet­ing that took place in a hotel and Mr Adams, myself and oth­er NDS rep­re­sen­ta­tives were there … and it became very clear there was a hack going on.”

    He claimed: “They deliv­ered the actu­al soft­ware to be able to do this, with pri­or instruc­tions that it should go to the widest pos­si­ble com­mu­ni­ty … soft­ware [intend­ed] to be able to acti­vate ONdig­i­tal cards. So giv­ing a full chan­nel line-up with­out pay­ment.”

    Gib­ling says that when fel­low pirates found out in 2002 that he was being secret­ly fund­ed by NDS, THOIC was hasti­ly closed down and he was told by Adams’s secu­ri­ty unit to make him­self scarce.

    “We sledge­ham­mered all the hard dri­ves.” He says he was told to go into hid­ing abroad.

    Kom­mer­ling says he was recruit­ed by Adams in 1996. “He looked at me and said ‘Could you imag­ine work­ing for us?’ ”

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 27, 2012, 8:00 am
  3. “He turned a blind eye and exhib­it­ed will­ful blind­ness to what was going on in his com­pa­nies. We con­clude, there­fore, that Rupert Mur­doch is not a fit per­son to exer­cise the stew­ard­ship of a major inter­na­tion­al com­pa­ny”.

    Well, it’s a step in the right direc­tion but can we start apply­ing this stan­dard to more of the peo­ple cur­rent­ly exer­cis­ing the stew­ard­ship of major inter­na­tion­al com­pa­nies? I kind of like this “expect­ing the lead­ers of major inter­na­tion­al com­pa­nies to be moral­ly fit to lead them” idea.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 1, 2012, 7:23 am
  4. News Corp just announced a split in to two com­pa­nies. And for any­one that’s count­ing, there’s 120 news­pa­pers in the new, slim­mer News Corp, which is still going to be the largest pub­lish­ing oper­a­tion in the Eng­lish-speak­ing world:

    News Corp. share­hold­ers approve of split into 2 com­pa­nies
    The com­ing breakup of News Corp. into two com­pa­nies is expect­ed to test whether investors share Rupert Mur­doch’s con­fi­dence in a sol­id future for news­pa­pers.
    June 12, 2013|By Meg James, Los Ange­les Times

    News Corp. has moved clos­er to its his­toric breakup that is expect­ed to test whether investors share Chair­man Rupert Mur­doch’s con­fi­dence that there is a sol­id future for news­pa­pers.

    On Tues­day, share­hold­ers approved mea­sures that will allow Mur­doch’s sprawl­ing media empire to be cleaved into two sep­a­rate pub­licly trad­ed com­pa­nies. The most prof­itable assets — Fox News Chan­nel, the Fox broad­cast TV net­work, Fox region­al sports net­works, FX and the 20th Cen­tu­ry Fox movie stu­dio — will form 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox Inc.

    The pub­lish­ing assets, includ­ing the Wall Street Jour­nal, Times of Lon­don, New York Post, the Aus­tralian, Harper­Collins book pub­lish­ing house and sev­er­al Aus­tralian tele­vi­sion prop­er­ties, will form a sep­a­rate com­pa­ny. Mur­doch said the new enti­ty, which will bear the News Corp. name and boast 120 news­pa­pers, will make up the largest pub­lish­ing oper­a­tion in the Eng­lish-speak­ing world.
    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 13, 2013, 12:12 pm
  5. Posted by GK | July 1, 2013, 10:27 pm
  6. Posted by GK | August 28, 2013, 8:41 pm
  7. If a hoard of sock pup­pets under Rupert Mur­doch’s com­mand sounds scary, imag­ine hack­er sock­pup­pets. Hack­er sock­pup­pets — like firms hack­ers offer­ing sock­pup­petry ser­vicescan be pret­ty scary too. Ok, the firms offer­ing sock­pup­petry ser­vices may not have been all that scary in prac­tice but it’s still the­o­ret­i­cal­ly pret­ty scary (with or with­out gov­ern­ment involve­ment)

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 22, 2013, 10:06 pm
  8. For a guy that’s spent his life try­ing to kill jour­nal­ism and the demo­c­ra­t­ic sys­tem, this is sounds about right:

    The Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald
    Mur­doch edi­tors told to ‘kill Whit­lam’ in 1975

    Date June 27, 2014

    Phillip Dor­ling

    Exclu­sive

    News Cor­po­ra­tion chief Rupert Mur­doch direct­ed his edi­tors to “kill Whit­lam” some 10 months before the down­fall of Gough Whit­lam’s Labor gov­ern­ment, accord­ing to a new­ly released Unit­ed States diplo­mat­ic report.

    The US Nation­al Archives has just declas­si­fied a secret diplo­mat­ic telegram dat­ed Jan­u­ary 20, 1975 that sheds new light on Mur­doch’s involve­ment in the tumul­tuous events of Aus­trali­a’s 1975 con­sti­tu­tion­al cri­sis.

    Enti­tled “Aus­tralian pub­lish­er pri­vate­ly turns on Prime Min­is­ter,” the telegram from US Con­sul-Gen­er­al in Mel­bourne, Robert Brand, report­ed to the State Depart­ment that “Rupert Mur­doch has issued [a] con­fi­den­tial instruc­tion to edi­tors of news­pa­pers he con­trols to ‘Kill Whit­lam’ “.

    Describ­ing Mr Mur­doch as “the l’en­fant ter­ri­ble of Aus­tralian jour­nal­ism,” Mr Brand not­ed that Mr Mur­doch had been “the prin­ci­pal pub­lish­er sup­port­ing the Whit­lam elec­tion effort in 1972 Labor vic­to­ry”.

    With a pub­lish­ing empire that includ­ed The Aus­tralian as well as dai­ly or Sun­day news­pa­pers in every Aus­tralian cap­i­tal, Mr Mur­doch’s new edi­to­r­i­al direc­tion was seen as a crit­i­cal polit­i­cal devel­op­ment.

    “If Mur­doch attack direct­ed against Whit­lam per­son­al­ly this could presage hard times for Prime Min­is­ter; but if against Labor gov­ern­ment would be dire news for par­ty,” Mr Brand telegraphed.

    The con­sul-gen­er­al’s urgent report was prompt­ed by US Labour Attache Edward Labatt who drew upon a range of con­fi­den­tial union and busi­ness sources, includ­ing peo­ple work­ing for News Lim­it­ed news­pa­pers, to report on indus­tri­al rela­tions and polit­i­cal devel­op­ments.

    Mr Brand’s telegram makes it clear the words “kill Whit­lam” were a polit­i­cal direc­tion to News Lim­it­ed news­pa­pers and not a phys­i­cal threat to the prime min­is­ter.

    The con­sul-gen­er­al’s Jan­u­ary, 1975 telegram has only been declas­si­fied this week after Fair­fax Media applied for access 10 months ago. The iden­ti­ty of Labor Attache Labat­t’s con­fi­den­tial source of infor­ma­tion has been redact­ed.

    Oth­er diplo­mat­ic cables pre­vi­ous­ly released by the US Nation­al Archives and pub­lished by Wik­iLeaks in mid-2013 revealed that Mr Mur­doch fore­saw the down­fall of Whit­lam’s Labor gov­ern­ment a year before its dis­missal.

    In Novem­ber, 1974, US Ambas­sador Mar­shall Green report­ed to Wash­ing­ton that Mur­doch pri­vate­ly pre­dict­ed that “Aus­tralian elec­tions are like­ly to take place in about one year, sparked by refusal of appro­pri­a­tions in the Sen­ate”.

    One year lat­er, on Novem­ber 11, 1975 Gov­er­nor-Gen­er­al Sir John Kerr dis­missed Mr Whit­lam as the prime min­is­ter after the Lib­er­al-Coun­try Par­ty oppo­si­tion blocked the bud­get in the Sen­ate.

    Although Mur­doch believed he played “a sub­stan­tial role” in Labor’s 1972 elec­tion vic­to­ry, his enthu­si­asm for Whit­lam had quick­ly waned.

    “He expects to sup­port the oppo­si­tion in the next elec­tion,” Ambas­sador Green report­ed in Novem­ber, 1974.

    The new­ly released US cable reveals Mr Mur­doch’s polit­i­cal shift was quick­ly con­firmed, at least 10 months before Ker­r’s dis­missal of the gov­ern­ment.

    News Lim­it­ed news­pa­pers sav­aged Whit­lam and strong­ly backed oppo­si­tion leader Mal­colm Fras­er, so much so that jour­nal­ists at The Aus­tralian took indus­tri­al action in protest.

    The Labor Par­ty was crushed at the polls and did not return to pow­er until 1983.

    Mr Fras­er acknowl­edged Mur­doch’s sup­port but said the news­pa­per pro­pri­etor’s polit­i­cal role is eas­i­ly over­stat­ed giv­en the col­lapse in pub­lic sup­port for the scan­dal-rid­den Whit­lam gov­ern­ment.

    “Rupert had influ­en­tial news­pa­pers, cer­tain­ly, but I don’t think it affect­ed the elec­tion out­come,” Mr Fras­er said.

    ...

    In oth­er news:

    Bloomberg Busi­ness­week
    Rupert Mur­doch’s Inner Cir­cle Escapes Again
    By Felix Gillette June 24, 2014

    At long last, Rupert Murdoch’s top pri­or­i­ty in the Lon­don phone-hack­ing scan­dal has been achieved. Rebekah Brooks is in the clear. On Tues­day in Lon­don, after weeks of delib­er­a­tion, a jury found Brooks not guilty on charges of phone hack­ing, bribery, and per­vert­ing the course of jus­tice.

    So far, Mur­doch has remained mum on Twit­ter (TWTR) about the ver­dict. It wouldn’t be sur­pris­ing if he is pri­vate­ly rejoic­ing. Brooks, the for­mer head of News Corp’s (NWSA) news­pa­pers in Lon­don, was a long­time, beloved favorite of Murdoch’s.

    In the mean­time, Andy Coul­son, a for­mer edi­tor of Murdoch’s now defunct News of the World and erst­while head of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron, was found guilty on a sin­gle count of phone hack­ing. The ver­dict prompt­ed an imme­di­ate apol­o­gy from Cameron. “I am extreme­ly sor­ry that I employed him,” said the prime min­is­ter.

    While Coulson’s con­vic­tion pro­vides yet anoth­er embar­rass­ing moment for Cameron, Brooks’ acquit­tal is yet anoth­er sur­pris­ing vic­to­ry for Mur­doch in the long and grad­ual unwind­ing of the phone hack­ing and police bribery scan­dal that bat­tered his empire.

    ...

    Cred­it the pro­tege for learn­ing from the mas­ter. Mur­doch is, after all, the ulti­mate escape artist in the scan­dal-fac­to­ry busi­ness.

    “Time and again, when his plans have gone awry and he has found him­self fac­ing calami­ty, his superb sur­vival skills have saved him,” Aus­tralian jour­nal­ist Neil Chenoweth wrote in a biog­ra­phy of Mur­doch pub­lished in 2002. “This is Murdoch’s genius: not that he gets into a jam, but that he is able to walk away after­ward, an implau­si­ble win­ner.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 28, 2014, 4:12 pm
  9. Could the acquit­tal of Rebekah Brooks actu­al­ly lead to more headaches for Rupert Mur­doch? Per­haps, if seem­ing like an untouch­able, cor­rupt­ing force in the world some­how trans­lates into a headache:

    Reuters
    Rupert Murdoch’s trou­bles are far from over
    By Nicholas Wap­shott
    July 1, 2014

    The acquit­tal of Rupert Murdoch’s favorite exec­u­tive, the flame-haired Rebekah Brooks, on charges of phone hack­ing and destroy­ing the evi­dence might have marked the final act in one of the most bruis­ing and expen­sive chap­ters in the his­to­ry of News Corp.

    It hasn’t turned out that way.

    The $85 mil­lion that Mur­doch paid to help keep his pro­tégée out of jail has done lit­tle more than stoke the fires of resent­ment against his com­pa­ny in Britain. It also remind­ed U.S. fed­er­al author­i­ties of the like­li­hood that sim­i­lar crimes have been com­mit­ted in Amer­i­ca.

    With con­vic­tions secured in Britain for brib­ing pub­lic offi­cials, there is already enough evi­dence for U.S. author­i­ties to pur­sue News Corp. under the For­eign Cor­rupt Prac­tices Act. Which may be why the FBI req­ui­si­tioned 80,000 emails from News Corp.’s New York head­quar­ters.

    There is lit­tle worse for a media com­pa­ny than becom­ing a front-page sto­ry. For the past nine years, Murdoch’s empire has been dogged by accu­sa­tions that it had been run­ning a crim­i­nal oper­a­tion to bribe pub­lic offi­cials and steal mes­sages from cell phones to feed the lucra­tive scan­dal sheets that fund­ed News Corp.’s growth from the get-go.

    The Lon­don inves­ti­ga­tion led to a num­ber of tri­als that proved Murdoch’s staff paid gov­ern­ment employ­ees for infor­ma­tion and hacked phones.

    But the show­piece — at least so far because more bribery tri­als are set for lat­er this year and author­i­ties on both sides of the Atlantic are con­sid­er­ing legal action against News Corp. — was the tri­al of Brooks, who ran Murdoch’s Lon­don press oper­a­tions, and Andy Coul­son, her deputy, suc­ces­sor, close asso­ciate and secret lover. When the fren­zy around the hack­ing crimes was at its most intense, Mur­doch said his top pri­or­i­ty was not pro­tect­ing his com­pa­ny, its share­hold­ers or his six chil­dren who are set to inher­it the firm — but Brooks.

    He proved as good as his word. The 83-year-old media tycoon spent mil­lions of dol­lars on Brooks’ lav­ish defense, while pros­e­cu­tors oper­at­ed on a cheese-par­ing bud­get. Many Brits saw for the first time a U.S. sys­tem of jus­tice oper­at­ing in the Old Bai­ley, England’s prin­ci­pal crim­i­nal court: May the rich­est side win.

    The trick worked. Brooks walked free. But instead of bring­ing to an end ques­tions about how far up the exec­u­tive lad­der the crim­i­nal­i­ty reached, her acquit­tal achieved the oppo­site. In Britain there is wide­spread dis­be­lief and anger at the Brooks ver­dict. As one vet­er­an U.S. edi­tor put it, “Rebekah is Britain’s O.J. Simp­son.”

    Those who have worked for Mur­doch also found the deci­sion hard to fath­om. While he pays lit­tle atten­tion to the run­ning of the Fox movie stu­dio or the Fox TV chan­nels, even Fox News, Mur­doch likes noth­ing bet­ter than to play with his news­pa­pers — like a teenage boy with an Xbox. Top edi­tors oper­ate under a rough-and-tum­ble ethos. Mur­doch makes reg­u­lar blunt calls across the Atlantic to make sug­ges­tions he expects to be fol­lowed to the let­ter. As he once said, “I try to keep in touch with the details.”

    Far from show­ing Brooks as the con­sum­mate pro­fes­sion­al and the ulti­mate Mur­doch exec­u­tive, how­ev­er, her defense rest­ed on con­vinc­ing the jury she did not know what she was doing. Even though Mur­doch had made her edi­tor of both his tabloids, then boss of the whole Lon­don oper­a­tion. The tight grip over every last head­line and pic­ture that Mur­doch expects from his edi­tors was, the jury was led to believe, con­spic­u­ous­ly miss­ing in the one edi­tor he favored above all oth­ers.

    In the absence of any con­vinc­ing evi­dence to the con­trary — Brooks was also charged with destroy­ing evi­dence — the jury accept­ed that it could not be proved beyond rea­son­able doubt she knew that phone hack­ing was going on direct­ly under her nose.

    To achieve his key aim has cost Mur­doch dear. His com­pa­ny remains in deep trou­ble in addi­tion to the $1 bil­lion so far in pay­ments to hack­ing vic­tims and on legal fees to defend his staff. He should, per­haps, have spent more time try­ing to pro­tect Coul­son, Brooks’s devot­ed side­kick, who was found guilty last week and is to be sen­tenced to jail time on Fri­day.

    At the least, Coulson’s guilt con­firms that crim­i­nal­i­ty reached the door of Murdoch’s office. “For bet­ter or for worse,” Mur­doch him­self put it, “our com­pa­ny a reflec­tion of my think­ing, my char­ac­ter, my ideas.” Though he seems to have hand­i­ly for­got­ten his mantra, “The buck stops with the guy who signs the checks.”

    ...

    How will Rupert deal the pain of becom­ing known as an untouch­able pow­er mon­ger? Well, after the big Hob­by Lob­by Supreme Court rul­ing, one form of ther­a­py could involve buy­ing out the rest of the non-Mur­doch Fam­i­ly News Corp share­hold­ers, thus turn­ing the com­pa­ny into a “close­ly held” cor­po­ra­tion that can be ruled to reflect Rupert’s reli­gion. That might be fun and great was to show the world his deeply held moral­i­ty.

    Or he could just ignore the crit­ics and soothe the pain with a big buy­out binge. Just imag­ine how good it would feel to and final­ly scratch that itch that nev­er goes away:

    Rupert Murdoch’s inter­est in Time Warn­er fuels indus­try spec­u­la­tion
    By Reuters
    Tues­day, July 1, 2014 7:55 EDT

    By Ronald Grover

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Rupert Mur­doch jets into Idaho’s Sun Val­ley next week for the year’s most exclu­sive tech and media indus­try gath­er­ing, armed with both the mon­ey and the appetite for a major deal.

    The 83-year-old Twen­ty-First Cen­tu­ry Fox Inc chief exec­u­tive offi­cer, a reg­u­lar at invest­ment bank Allen & Co’s annu­al gath­er­ing, is in the midst of a deal that would give Fox the fire­pow­er to buy a con­tent com­pa­ny.

    Fox’s 39 per­cent-owned British Sky Broad­cast­ing Group Plc is nego­ti­at­ing to buy Fox’s Sky Italia and its Sky Deutsch­land sub­sidiary in a deal that could net Fox as much as $13 bil­lion.

    ...

    Sun Val­ley will be teem­ing with CEOs whose com­pa­nies might fit the bill. Among expect­ed atten­dees are Time Warn­er Inc CEO Jeff Bewkes and Via­com Inc CEO Philippe Dau­man.

    Murdoch’s inter­est in Time Warn­er despite its $62 bil­lion mar­ket val­ue has been the sub­ject of indus­try spec­u­la­tion. He still cov­ets the own­er of HBO, among oth­er poten­tial tar­gets, accord­ing to a for­mer News Corp employ­ee told by exec­u­tives recent­ly about Murdoch’s inter­est.

    The source did not know if Mur­doch had made an approach. Time Warn­er spokesman Kei­th Cocoz­za and Fox spokesman Nathaniel Brown declined to com­ment.

    “I’m not sure he could afford it, but you nev­er want to say that about Rupert Mur­doch,” said for­mer Via­com Pres­i­dent Frank Bion­di, an Allen & Co reg­u­lar who is not going this year.

    Some of the high­est-pro­file chief­tains in media and tech­nol­o­gy, from Face­book Inc’s Mark Zucker­berg to Apple Inc’s Tim Cook, gath­er at Sun Val­ley each year.

    The con­fer­ence gen­er­at­ed deal dis­cus­sions in the past. Com­cast Corp CEO Bri­an Roberts dis­cussed NBC with Gen­er­al Elec­tric Co CEO Jeff Immelt one year. Bion­di says he began talks to sell Madi­son Square Gar­den to John Malone’s Lib­er­ty Media Corp there, but the deal fell apart.

    Mur­doch will be accom­pa­nied by sons Lach­lan and James. Ear­li­er this year, the elder Mur­doch ele­vat­ed Lach­lan to non-exec­u­tive co-chair­man and James to co-chief oper­at­ing offi­cer. James has been espe­cial­ly inter­est­ed in acqui­si­tions, said a for­mer top exec­u­tive at News Corp famil­iar with their think­ing.

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 1, 2014, 2:31 pm
  10. In case it was­n’t clear that the lead­ers of the multi­na­tion­al giants of the world tru­ly think they should be run­ning the world and have all the solu­tions nec­es­sary to solve our prob­lems, here’s an arti­cle about the talk Rupert Mur­doch just gave at the “B20”. The B20 is the group set up by multi­na­tion­al cor­po­rate giants in 2010 to lob­by the G20, just in case those giants weren’t already influ­enc­ing those gov­ern­ments enough:

    Irish Inde­pen­dent
    Mur­doch defends Irish tax regime
    Jane Wardell

    Pub­lished 18/07/2014|00:00

    Media mogul Rupert Mur­doch crit­i­cised G20 gov­ern­ments for try­ing to intro­duce mea­sures to pre­vent com­pa­nies using low tax states such as Ire­land.

    “Do we real­ly expect over­seas com­pa­nies to vol­un­tar­i­ly bring prof­its back to be taxed at 35pc to 40pc in the Unit­ed States, when the cor­po­rate tax rate in Ire­land is 12.5pc?” Mr Mur­doch asked at a con­fer­ence on busi­ness growth. “This is not the way to achieve eco­nom­ic growth.”

    The 80-year-old blamed exces­sive finan­cial reg­u­la­tion for stymieing free mar­kets and urged Group of 20 gov­ern­ments to “take a back seat” to allow busi­ness­es to dri­ve eco­nom­ic growth.

    Mr Mur­doch also said US Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma was penal­is­ing busi­ness­es by crack­ing down on so-called “prof­it shift­ing” by major cor­po­ra­tions to coun­tries with lighter tax regimes, a tech­nique that is also in the sights of the G20.

    Auda­cious

    My blood pres­sure goes up when I think of the num­ber of local, state and fed­er­al reg­u­la­tions we have in our lives today,” Mr Mur­doch told a meet­ing of the Busi­ness 20 (B20) lead­ers in Syd­ney, a day after his Twen­ty-First Cen­tu­ry Fox made an auda­cious $80bn offer for Time Warn­er.

    “That is just in Amer­i­ca. Don’t even get me start­ed on the Euro­pean Union.”

    The B20 was set up in 2010 to give pol­i­cy rec­om­men­da­tions on behalf of the inter­na­tion­al busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty to the G20. Busi­ness lead­ers meet­ing here are look­ing to influ­ence the out­come of the G20 Lead­ers Sum­mit in Bris­bane in Novem­ber.

    “I believe that busi­ness does have a role in shap­ing pub­lic pol­i­cy, main­ly in help­ing lim­it the size and scope of gov­ern­ment,” Mr Mur­doch said.

    “For busi­ness­es large and small, there’s sim­ply too much red tape, too many sub­servient politi­cians sti­fling eco­nom­ic growth and entre­pre­neurism.”

    Along with tar­get­ing growth of 2pc above trend over the next five years, the G20 is tack­ling cor­po­rate “prof­it shift­ing”, which has allowed multi­na­tion­als such as Star­bucks, Google, Apple and Amazon.com to avoid pay­ing tax­es.

    ...

    Mr Oba­ma ear­li­er this year pro­posed tight­en­ing restric­tions on US multi­na­tion­als that shift their tax domi­ciles abroad in his 2015 bud­get.

    Mr Oba­ma wants to raise the min­i­mum lev­el of for­eign own­er­ship in a new­ly invert­ed hold­ing com­pa­ny to 50pc from about 20pc, mak­ing the deals more dif­fi­cult.

    “My blood pres­sure goes up when I think of the num­ber of local, state and fed­er­al reg­u­la­tions we have in our lives today”. So it’s either an end­less race to the bot­tom for every­one, or Rupert’s blood pres­sure goes up. Tough deci­sion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 18, 2014, 3:06 pm
  11. Meet the new media boss. Same as the old media boss. Except pos­si­bly with an even greater incen­tive to obscure local cor­rup­tion which is why so many peo­ple are so con­cerned about new boss:

    The New York Times
    Oli­garchs of East­ern Europe Scoop Up Stakes in Media Com­pa­nies

    By RICK LYMAN
    Novem­ber 26, 2014

    BRATISLAVA, Slo­va­kia — Across East­ern Europe, local oli­garchs and invest­ment groups — some direct­ly con­nect­ed to their coun­tries’ polit­i­cal lead­er­ship — are snap­ping up news­pa­pers and oth­er media com­pa­nies, prompt­ing deep con­cerns among jour­nal­ists and oth­ers about press free­dom.

    It is just one of an array of devel­op­ments across the region rais­ing ques­tions, a quar­ter cen­tu­ry after the fall of the Berlin Wall, about progress toward West­ern stan­dards of democ­ra­cy and free speech. As in Rus­sia, there are increas­ing wor­ries about a poten­tial­ly dan­ger­ous con­cen­tra­tion of pow­er in the hands of peo­ple who have man­aged to acquire both wealth and polit­i­cal influ­ence and are increas­ing­ly extend­ing their con­trol to media out­lets.

    Here in Slo­va­kia, a Ger­man media com­pa­ny sold a sub­stan­tial stake in the nation’s last seri­ous, inde­pen­dent news­pa­per to a well-con­nect­ed invest­ment group that had been among its inves­tiga­tive tar­gets.

    At a time of sim­i­lar devel­op­ments across the region, what stood out in the invest­ment in Petit Press and its promi­nent SME flag­ship news­pa­per by the group, Pen­ta Invest­ments, was the reac­tion of the paper’s staff.

    Maq­tus Kos­tol­ny, 39, edi­tor in chief for the last eight years, walked out the door. Four of his deputies fol­lowed. And 50 mem­bers of the paper’s 80-per­son staff sub­mit­ted notice to leave by the end of the year.

    “I think Pen­ta intends to mis­use the news­pa­pers for their own pur­pos­es,” Mr. Kos­tol­ny said. “Their idea of free speech is entire­ly dif­fer­ent from mine.”

    But the sit­u­a­tion in Slo­va­kia is just the lat­est in which own­ers, often West­ern Euro­pean or Amer­i­can, have cho­sen to sell East­ern Euro­pean media prop­er­ties and pow­er­ful local inter­ests have stepped for­ward and snapped them up.

    Andrej Babis, an agri­cul­ture and fer­til­iz­er tycoon, not only owns the Czech Republic’s largest pub­lish­ing house and sev­er­al impor­tant media out­lets, he is the government’s min­is­ter of finance.

    In Latvia, opaque dis­clo­sure laws obscured who con­trolled much of the country’s news media until a cor­rup­tion inves­ti­ga­tion of one of the country’s rich­est busi­ness­men revealed that he and two oth­er oli­garchs were the prin­ci­pal own­ers.

    In Hun­gary, beyond out­right state own­er­ship of much of the news media, top asso­ciates of Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orban con­trol sig­nif­i­cant chunks. Chief among them is Lajos Sim­ic­s­ka, who went to school with the prime min­is­ter and whose con­struc­tion com­pa­ny has prof­it­ed lav­ish­ly from state con­tracts, although the two are said to be feud­ing of late.

    In Roma­nia, the lead­ing tele­vi­sion news sta­tion, the right-wing Ante­na 3, is only part of the vast media empire owned by the bil­lion­aire Dan Voicules­cu, the founder of the country’s Con­ser­v­a­tive Par­ty. In August, Mr. Voicules­cu was sen­tenced to 10 years in prison on mon­ey laun­der­ing charges.

    Sev­er­al oli­garchs con­trol the media com­pa­nies in Bul­gar­ia, reg­u­lar­ly ranked in last place among Euro­pean Union nations in the World Press Free­dom Index. That includes a for­mer law­mak­er, Delyan Peev­s­ki, whose New Bul­gar­i­an Media Group — osten­si­bly con­trolled by his moth­er, though oppo­nents charge that he holds the real pow­er — has been close­ly linked to gov­ern­ments con­trolled by sev­er­al par­ties.

    In the 1990s, after the col­lapse of Com­mu­nism, most media out­lets were either owned out­right by the state or utter­ly depen­dent on gov­ern­ment adver­tis­ing. When for­eign own­ers — most notably from Ger­many, Swe­den, Switzer­land and the Unit­ed States — sub­se­quent­ly bought up local news­pa­pers, mag­a­zines and broad­cast out­lets, jour­nal­ists found that the dis­tant own­ers had no inter­est in local pol­i­tics. That was a relief for a time.

    “For us, it was per­fect,” Mr. Kos­tol­ny said of the Ger­man con­glom­er­ate that owned SME. “We had very pro­fes­sion­al own­ers who nev­er picked up the phone and tried to influ­ence the news­pa­per. Not once.”

    But when the econ­o­my sank in 2008, most of these for­eign own­ers decid­ed to retreat to their core busi­ness­es back home and put their media com­pa­nies in Cen­tral and East­ern Europe on the block. At that point, the dis­tance between their West­ern own­ers and the polit­i­cal real­i­ties in their coun­tries began to seem like a draw­back, espe­cial­ly as the own­ers began sell­ing to local inter­ests with a direct stake in the cov­er­age.

    “It turned out that as much as they didn’t care about Slo­vak pol­i­tics, they also didn’t care about who they sold the papers to and the impact of the sale on Czech and Slo­vak soci­ety,” Mr. Kos­tol­ny said.

    The end result, said Mar­i­an Lesko, a com­men­ta­tor for Trend Mag­a­zine, a Bratisla­va-based busi­ness jour­nal also owned by Pen­ta Invest­ments, is that “in Slo­va­kia, inde­pen­dent media is no more, basi­cal­ly.”

    Alex­ej Ful­mek, the chief exec­u­tive of Petit Press and one of the founders of SME, said he was trou­bled by Penta’s stake in the com­pa­ny but decid­ed to stay on to pro­tect SME and the oth­er Petit Press pub­li­ca­tions, includ­ing the most impor­tant net­work of region­al papers in the coun­try.

    “I am not hap­py with the sit­u­a­tion,” he said. “We don’t like Pen­ta. They have too many eco­nom­ic inter­ests with the gov­ern­ment.”

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 27, 2014, 10:46 am
  12. Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 22, 2014, 3:08 pm
  13. Is Roger Ailes’s long tenure as the head of Fox News and lead­ing fig­ure in the under­min­ing of Amer­i­can jour­nal­ism final­ly com­ing to an end? If the fol­low­ing spec­u­la­tion about a desire with­in the Mur­doch fam­i­ly to oust Ailes is cor­rect, the end does indeed look near for Ailes thanks to Gretchen Carl­son’s law­suit alleg­ing that Ailes is a ser­i­al sex­u­al preda­tor:

    New York Mag­a­zine

    Gretchen Carlson’s Sex­u­al-Harass­ment Law­suit May Allow Mur­doch Sons to Final­ly Oust Roger Ailes From Fox News

    By Gabriel Sher­man

    July 7, 2016 2:53 p.m.

    Through­out his five-decade career in media and Repub­li­can pol­i­tics, Roger Ailes has demon­strat­ed a remark­able tal­ent for self-preser­va­tion. “I have been through about 12 train wrecks in my career. Some­how, I always walk away,” he boast­ed in the mid-’90s to a senior NBC exec­u­tive who’d alleged Ailes hurled an anti-Semit­ic com­ment at him. As the head of Fox News, Ailes deployed his sur­vival skills fre­quent­ly to weath­er scan­dals of career-end­ing pro­por­tions and a bit­ter pow­er strug­gle with Rupert Murdoch’s old­est son, Lach­lan.

    But in the wake of Gretchen Carlson’s shock­ing sex­u­al-harass­ment law­suit against Ailes, there are signs that the 76 year-old’s luck may have final­ly expired.

    On Wednes­day, Fox’s par­ent com­pa­ny, 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox, released a terse state­ment say­ing it took the alle­ga­tions “seri­ous­ly” and is con­duct­ing an “inter­nal review of the mat­ter.” The word­ing and tim­ing of the press release — Ailes had yet to issue his own response, which, when it came, described the law­suit as “retal­ia­to­ry” (Carl­son was just dropped from Fox) and claimed it would be “vig­or­ous­ly defend­ed” – sig­nal that Ailes’s stand­ing with the Mur­dochs is pre­car­i­ous. Accord­ing to one high­ly placed Fox source, Mur­doch and his sons, Lach­lan and James, approved the hir­ing of an out­side lawyer to con­duct the inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tion. While it’s com­mon for large com­pa­nies to bring in out­side coun­sel to con­duct inquiries dur­ing pub­lic scan­dals, the move is a rad­i­cal one for Mur­doch. “Unprece­dent­ed,” one for­mer senior exec­u­tive told me. “It’s not Rupert’s style to inves­ti­gate inter­nal issues.”

    Exec­u­tives I spoke with over the past 24 hours said the hir­ing of an out­side lawyer is also an indi­ca­tion that Murdoch’s sons may be cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the Carl­son scan­dal to achieve a long-held goal: forc­ing Ailes out. “It’s a coup,” one per­son close to the com­pa­ny told me. If the inves­ti­ga­tion into Ailes’s man­age­ment con­firms Carlson’s account, or turns up addi­tion­al episodes of harass­ment with oth­er Fox women, it stands to rea­son the Mur­doch chil­dren would have the lever­age they need to push Ailes aside and install a less-right-wing chief. “This could be cur­tains for Ailes,” anoth­er per­son close to the com­pa­ny said. Indeed, sev­er­al months after NBC hired an out­side coun­sel in 1995 to inves­ti­gate Ailes’s alleged anti-Semit­ic slur, he left NBC.

    Based on what Carlson’s camp is say­ing, it appears her law­suit could unleash a tor­rent of new alle­ga­tions from oth­er women. “Some­one sug­gest­ed he’s the Bill Cos­by of media,” Carlson’s lawyer, Nan­cy Eri­ka Smith, told me today. “My office is being del­uged with calls and web­site con­tacts from women. I don’t even have a count any­more … Women as young as 16 who said he demand­ed oral sex. Anoth­er said dur­ing an inter­view that he said, ‘Take off your bra.’ She was dev­as­tat­ed.” Smith told me she’s for­ward­ing the names of women who agreed to be inter­viewed to jour­nal­ists. The New York Times cur­rent­ly has mul­ti­ple reporters work­ing on the sto­ry.

    So far, no women have gone on the record. But Carl­son isn’t the first to pub­licly chal­lenge the Fox chief. In my 2014 biog­ra­phy of Ailes, I report­ed three inci­dents where Ailes made inap­pro­pri­ate sex­u­al com­ments at women in pro­fes­sion­al set­tings. One of the women, Ran­di Har­ri­son, said that when she inter­viewed for a pro­duc­ing job at NBC in the ear­ly ’80s, Ailes said he’d increase her salary by $100 a week in exchange for sex. After the inci­dent, Ailes’s friend John Hud­dy tracked Har­ri­son down and asked her at a bar if she was wear­ing a wire.

    Exec­u­tives I spoke with over the past 24 hours said the hir­ing of an out­side lawyer is also an indi­ca­tion that Murdoch’s sons may be cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the Carl­son scan­dal to achieve a long-held goal: forc­ing Ailes out. “It’s a coup,” one per­son close to the com­pa­ny told me. If the inves­ti­ga­tion into Ailes’s man­age­ment con­firms Carlson’s account, or turns up addi­tion­al episodes of harass­ment with oth­er Fox women, it stands to rea­son the Mur­doch chil­dren would have the lever­age they need to push Ailes aside and install a less-right-wing chief. “This could be cur­tains for Ailes,” anoth­er per­son close to the com­pa­ny said. Indeed, sev­er­al months after NBC hired an out­side coun­sel in 1995 to inves­ti­gate Ailes’s alleged anti-Semit­ic slur, he left NBC.”

    Wait, so the Mur­doch kids want to use this scan­dal to put a less-right-wing per­son in charge of Fox News?! Is a kinder, gen­tler Fox News the future for the net­work? Well, there have been rum­blings about the Mur­doch kids not being quite as con­ser­v­a­tive as their father so it’s not incon­ceiv­able, espe­cial­ly in Don­ald Trump trash­es the con­ser­v­a­tive brand this year. But decades of right-wing dis­in­for­ma­tion fed mil­lions of peo­ple night after night don’t just dis­si­pate when a new CEO steps in. Far-right hys­ter­ics is what pays the bills so far so it’s hard to see how replac­ing Ailes with some­one else frees the net­work from their Franken­stein’s Mon­ster.

    Fox News-lite! Now with only half the poi­son and bile. It’s a nice thought. And who knows, if Gretchen Carl­son thor­ough­ly expos­es Ailes it’s very pos­si­ble Fox News will be in need of an image makeover. Espe­cial­ly since, as we just saw, Fox News might be get­ting a new show this year: a Cos­by Show-spin­off:

    ...
    Based on what Carlson’s camp is say­ing, it appears her law­suit could unleash a tor­rent of new alle­ga­tions from oth­er women. “Some­one sug­gest­ed he’s the Bill Cos­by of media,” Carlson’s lawyer, Nan­cy Eri­ka Smith, told me today. “My office is being del­uged with calls and web­site con­tacts from women. I don’t even have a count any­more … Women as young as 16 who said he demand­ed oral sex. Anoth­er said dur­ing an inter­view that he said, ‘Take off your bra.’ She was dev­as­tat­ed.” Smith told me she’s for­ward­ing the names of women who agreed to be inter­viewed to jour­nal­ists. The New York Times cur­rent­ly has mul­ti­ple reporters work­ing on the sto­ry.
    ...

    “The Bill Cos­by of media”. That’s the poten­tial scan­dal Fox News could be deal­ing with here: a very pow­er­ful ser­i­al preda­tor who has been ter­ror­iz­ing women in media for decades. Those were the whis­pers about Ailes as Carl­son’s case went pub­lic.

    And as we’re learn­ing now, those weren’t just whis­pers. Get ready for the New Cos­by Show star­ring Roger Ailes:

    Think Progress

    Gretchen Carlson’s Law­suit Opened A Flood­gate Of Harass­ment Alle­ga­tions Against Roger Ailes

    by Jes­si­ca Gold­stein
    Jul 11, 2016 1:07 pm

    Last week, for­mer Fox News host Gretchen Carl­son sued Fox Chair­man and CEO Roger Ailes for sex­u­al harass­ment, alleg­ing unwant­ed sex­u­al advances at work, and career-demo­li­tion when she refused him. Her law­suit details dis­gust­ing, alarm­ing behav­ior: Ailes alleged­ly told her that she should “have had a sex­u­al rela­tion­ship a long time ago” with him and, when she refut­ed his advances and com­plained about it, he “end­ed her career at Fox News.”

    As New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sher­man writes, Carl­son wasn’t the first woman to accuse Ailes of this inap­pro­pri­ate, appalling mis­con­duct; his biog­ra­phy of Ailes, The Loud­est Voice in the Room, includ­ed inter­views with sev­er­al women who said “Ailes had used his posi­tion of pow­er to make either unwant­ed sex­u­al advances or inap­pro­pri­ate sex­u­al com­ments in the office.”

    Nan­cy Eri­ka Smith, Carlson’s attor­ney, told Sher­man that in the days since Carl­son went pub­lic, over a dozen women have reached out to describe sim­i­lar expe­ri­ences with Ailes, reveal­ing a pat­tern — demand­ing sex­u­al favors in exchange for pro­fes­sion­al advance­ment, and putting a stop to the careers of women who did not oblige — dat­ing back as far as the 1960s. Six of the women, two on the record and four anony­mous­ly, told their sto­ries pub­licly to New York Mag­a­zine for the first time.

    Ailes’ out­side coun­sel issued a state­ment in response to the new alle­ga­tions: “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.”

    That the alle­ga­tions are old, obvi­ous­ly, has no bear­ing on whether or not they are true. There are plen­ty of well-doc­u­ment­ed rea­sons why vic­tims of sex­u­al mis­con­duct stay silent: trau­ma, shame, right­ly-earned fear of ret­ri­bu­tion or worse. Evi­dence sup­ports that women who go pub­lic are far more like­ly to be pun­ished than to achieve any­thing close to jus­tice. A num­ber of Carlson’s for­mer col­leagues are already call­ing her alle­ga­tions “B.S.” with­out “a ring of truth.”

    There are some strik­ing par­al­lels here to the Bill Cos­by case: mul­ti­ple alle­ga­tions that span decades; accusers who are all female and all younger than the accused; meet­ings that were osten­si­bly about pro­fes­sion­al advance­ment that alleged­ly esca­lat­ed into requests or demands for sex­u­al favors. And the lan­guage used by Ailes’ attor­ney to dis­miss these claims — a total denial, col­or­ing the accusers as “des­per­ate” and media-hun­gry, imply­ing that the age of the alle­ga­tions means they couldn’t pos­si­ble be true — is very sim­i­lar to the rhetoric deployed by Cosby’s var­i­ous lawyers.

    Of the new accusers, the ear­li­est account is from a woman who says she was doing mod­el­ing work as a teenag­er in “late ’65 or ear­ly ’66.” She was audi­tion­ing for The Mike Dou­glas Show, which Ailes pro­duced at the time, and Ailes would take women who audi­tioned into a room one-on-one “behind closed doors.” When she went into the room, “He grabbed me and had his hands on me and he forced me to kiss him. 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.”

    Two oth­er alle­ga­tions from the 1960s come from for­mer mod­els Mar­sha Calla­han, who describes an encounter with Ailes in “either ’68 or ’67,” and Susan (not her real name), who says she met Ailes when she was 16 years old in the win­ter of 1967. Calla­han, now 73 years old, was also called in to audi­tion for The Mike Dou­glas Show. She says he insist­ed she wear a garter belt and stock­ings to their meet­ing.

    So I go into his office and right away he says, ‘Sit on the sofa and lift your skirt up.’ I had to do these dif­fer­ent pos­es. And then, I recall very clear­ly, he said he’d put me on the show but I need­ed to go to bed with him. I was a real­ly shy girl, but I was a lit­tle cheeky so I said, ‘Oh yeah, you and who else?’ And he said, ‘Only me and a few of my select friends.’

    She declined. When she did the show, she says, she saw Ailes and he “pre­tend­ed not to know who I was.”

    Susan also met Ailes on The Mike Dou­glas Show. She claims he took her into his office and locked the door with a key. “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. I jumped up, but the door is locked and nobody’s out there.”

    When it dawned on Ailes that she would­n’t do as he asked, she said, he revealed a reel-to-reel tape recorder rolling in his desk and told her, “Don’t tell any­body about this. I’ve got it all on tape.”

    Kel­lie Boyle, a for­mer Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee field advis­er, says Ailes took her to a pro­fes­sion­al din­ner in 1989 that end­ed in his car. He offered to give her a ride to her friend’s place, but once they were in the car, he said to her, “You know if you want to play with the big boys, you have to lay with the big boys.”

    He told her that to get the job she want­ed — she was in Wash­ing­ton to “sign a major con­tract” with the Nation­al Repub­li­can Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee — she’d have to have sex with him and “give a blowjob every once in a while” to oth­er male media fig­ures. She told him lat­er, by phone, that she was­n’t going to do that; she nev­er got the job because, as she says a friend at the RNC told her, “word went out you weren’t to be hired.”

    Boyle recent­ly gave an inter­view to For­tune, in which she described her expe­ri­ence in greater detail. She was just start­ing out in the polit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tions field and was, at the time of the encounter, a “big fan” of Ailes. “He was some­body I admired,” she said. She spent the entire 15-minute car ride lis­ten­ing to him talk and stalling, out of fear that he might assault her. “I was try­ing to not hurt his feel­ings but not be encour­ag­ing. I cer­tain­ly wasn’t expect­ing what hap­pened next.”

    What hap­pened next, she claims, is that she “could­n’t even get in the door” to sign this con­tract she’d already been promised. No one was made avail­able to speak with her and no expla­na­tion was pro­vid­ed. “I end­ed up dri­ving back to New Jer­sey with noth­ing.” This week, Boyle said, she reached out to that RNC friend who had told her she was on a “do-not-hire” list to ask if he remem­bered the inci­dent. He said he did. The expe­ri­ence made her lose her taste for pol­i­tics and “for the tra­jec­to­ry I thought I was on.”

    ...

    The most recent alle­ga­tion (aside, obvi­ous­ly, from Carl­son’s) is from anoth­er anony­mous accuser and alleged­ly took place around 1984. The then-30-year-old model/actress was new to New York and apply­ing for broad­cast­ing jobs when she land­ed a meet­ing with Ailes. She audi­tioned for him on cam­era; after the tap­ing was done, he locked the door. “I fig­ured out pret­ty quick­ly there was no job and this was just ruse,” she said. “He pulled out a garter belt and stock­ings and told me to put them on.” She was “very ner­vous” and com­plied. After that, “some­thing sex­u­al” that she has “blocked out” took place. “I felt I was being used for his sex­u­al sat­is­fac­tion.”

    There are some strik­ing par­al­lels here to the Bill Cos­by case: mul­ti­ple alle­ga­tions that span decades; accusers who are all female and all younger than the accused; meet­ings that were osten­si­bly about pro­fes­sion­al advance­ment that alleged­ly esca­lat­ed into requests or demands for sex­u­al favors. And the lan­guage used by Ailes’ attor­ney to dis­miss these claims — a total denial, col­or­ing the accusers as “des­per­ate” and media-hun­gry, imply­ing that the age of the alle­ga­tions means they couldn’t pos­si­ble be true — is very sim­i­lar to the rhetoric deployed by Cosby’s var­i­ous lawyers.”

    Note that years that the above alleged harass­ment all took place ranged from the mid 60s to 1984. That leaves a three decade gap between the 1984 harass­ment and Gretchen Carl­son’s recent harass­ment. So if these charges are true, there’s pre­sum­ably a three decade peri­od dur­ing which Ailes was ascend­ing the heights of pow­er in the news and media pro­duc­tion world where he was either sud­den­ly not a ser­i­al preda­tor or we just haven’t heard from those vic­tims yet. Assum­ing he did­n’t sud­den­ly stop this kind of abuse that means there’s poten­tial­ly A LOT more sto­ries of this nature yet to come out.

    Yeah, there are indeed some strik­ing par­al­lels with the Cos­by case. And that’s part of why it’s not incon­ceiv­able that we real­ly could see a Fox News makeover in com­ing years. Hav­ing Roger Ailes be replaced would be a pret­ty big deal no mat­ter what. He was that influ­en­tial. But hav­ing him be replace because he was exposed as a ser­i­al preda­tor boss who has been dehu­man­iz­ing women in the media for decades is poten­tial­ly a much big­ger deal. Espe­cial­ly if Hillary Clin­ton because the next pres­i­dent and the net­work inevitably unleash­es a tor­rent of bare­ly veiled polit­i­cal misog­y­ny that does­n’t end for the next four to eight years.

    Also, don’t for­get that Fox News’s audi­ence has a medi­an view­er age of 68. If that’s your net­work’s prime demo­graph­ic, you prob­a­bly don’t want to be piss­ing off women too much.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 11, 2016, 6:40 pm
  14. With the Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion fulling under­way, the GOP’s rebrand­ing as the Par­ty of Trump is now an inevitabil­i­ty. Espe­cial­ly since the “Nev­er Trump” con­tin­gent was just thwart­ed in its efforts to force a vote that would have “unbind­ed” del­e­gates. All Aboard the Trump Train! *Toot* *Toot*

    It’s a pret­ty his­toric day. It would be even more his­toric of the GOP was­n’t already a metaphor­i­cal dump­ster fire long before Trump came along, but still pret­ty his­toric. And it’s a lit­tle extra his­toric because the start of the RNC’s offi­cial trans­for­ma­tion into the Par­ty of Trump hap­pened on the very same same we’re get­ting press reports that Roger Ailes is out at Fox News:

    New York Mag­a­zine

    Mur­dochs Have Decid­ed to Remove Roger Ailes — the Only Ques­tion Now Is When

    By Gabriel Sher­man
    July 18, 2016 12:43 p.m.

    Roger Ailes’s tenure as the head of Fox News may be com­ing to an end. Rupert Mur­doch and sons Lach­lan and James — co-chair­men and CEO, respec­tive­ly, of par­ent com­pa­ny 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox — have set­tled on remov­ing the 76-year-old exec­u­tive, say two sources briefed on a sex­u­al-harass­ment inves­ti­ga­tion of Ailes being con­duct­ed by New York law firm Paul, Weiss. After review­ing the ini­tial find­ings of the probe, James Mur­doch is said to be argu­ing that Ailes should be pre­sent­ed with a choice this week to resign or face being fired. Lach­lan is more aligned with their father, who thinks that no action should be tak­en until after the GOP con­ven­tion this week. Anoth­er source con­firms that all three are in agree­ment that Ailes needs to go.

    While Gretchen Carlson’s sex­u­al-harass­ment law­suit against Ailes sparked the inves­ti­ga­tion, sources say it has expand­ed into a wide-rang­ing inquiry into Ailes’s con­tro­ver­sial man­age­ment style. The inter­views are now being con­duct­ed at Paul, Weiss’s mid­town offices because of con­cerns that the Fox offices could be bugged, sources say. The lawyers are seek­ing to inter­view for­mer female employ­ees of Fox News in addi­tion to cur­rent staff. They are also look­ing into the appro­pri­ate­ness of Ailes’s pres­sur­ing employ­ees to speak out on his behalf, against his accusers. For instance, they are focus­ing on an op-ed writ­ten by Fox Busi­ness anchor Neil Cavu­to in which Cavu­to called the alle­ga­tions against Ailes “sick.” As Cavu­to is a man­ag­er at Fox News (his title is senior VP and man­ag­ing edi­tor), his com­ments could be seen as part of a cor­po­rate attempt to silence women who would speak out.

    ...

    Mean­while, one Fox host told me that Ailes loy­al­ists are report­ing back on the inves­ti­ga­tion to his attor­ney, and Fox con­trib­u­tor, Susan Estrich. “They’re scared to death,” one Fox anchor told me. “The mood is bleak.”

    “After review­ing the ini­tial find­ings of the probe, James Mur­doch is said to be argu­ing that Ailes should be pre­sent­ed with a choice this week to resign or face being fired. Lach­lan is more aligned with their father, who thinks that no action should be tak­en until after the GOP con­ven­tion this week. Anoth­er source con­firms that all three are in agree­ment that Ailes needs to go.”

    It sure sounds like the Mur­dochs are active­ly debat­ing whether or not to dump Ailes dur­ing the GOP’s con­ven­tion or after. And if it’s after the con­ven­tion, it’s like­ly short­ly after since it’s clear that they’ve rec­og­nized the poten­tial poi­son Ailes’s ser­i­al harass­ment presents for the Fox News brand dur­ing a crit­i­cal elec­tion year.

    So one of the most influ­en­tial and destruc­tive media insti­tu­tions in the US is poten­tial­ly about to expe­ri­ence a brain trans­plant. Maybe this week, maybe a lit­tle lat­er. But it’s appar­ent­ly going to hap­pen some time between now and the elec­tions. It’s an inter­est­ing tim­ing con­dun­drum. Is it bet­ter to hold off with the high-pro­file fir­ings and hope it does­n’t become a sto­ry dur­ing the GOP’s big week or try to get out ahead of a sto­ry that risks depict­ing Fox News as a sex­u­al preda­tor play­ground and announce Ailes’s depar­ture now? It’s a pret­ty big ques­tion and the Mur­dochs need to answer it soon.

    There’s also the ques­tion of what’s next for Roger Ailes. It would prob­a­bly be a good excuse to creep back into the shad­ows and leave the future-destroy­ing activ­i­ties to the next gen­er­a­tion. But who knows. The Don­ald seems like like Roger and did­n’t hes­i­tate to defend him when these charges came out so maybe Trump will help him find a new Fox News-ish project to work on.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 18, 2016, 2:48 pm
  15. Woah! Reports on Roger Ailes’s sta­tus as the head of Fox News are mak­ing it clear that he’s going to be rid­ing the gold­en para­chute soon­er rather than lat­er. But here’s the lat­est twist: If Ailes leaves, three of the four prime time hosts, Gre­ta van Sus­teren, Bill O’Reil­ly, and Sean Han­ni­ty, are threat­en­ing to walk too. And that just leaves Meg­yn Kel­ly as the only remain­ing prime time host if the rest leave. Might she join them in their walk­out threat? Prob­a­bly not since Roger Ailes report­ed­ly sex­u­al­ly harassed her too.

    So as big a poten­tial shake­up as Ailes leav­ing could be for Fox News, an insti­tu­tion he built from the ground up, his leav­ing could end up mak­ing a much big­ger impact on the net­work thanks to a top tal­ent Ailes sol­i­dar­i­ty move­ment:

    The Finan­cial Times

    Mur­dochs push for Ailes to leave Fox News

    Pre­sen­ters could depart with network’s chief as sex­u­al harass­ment claims mount

    by: Matthew Gar­ra­han and Anna Nico­laou
    7/19/2016

    Roger Ailes is head­ing for the exit at Fox News Chan­nel, the cable net­work beloved by Amer­i­can con­ser­v­a­tives, with Rupert Mur­doch and his sons in agree­ment that he should leave amid alle­ga­tions of sex­u­al harass­ment.

    The tim­ing and terms of the depar­ture of the man who turned Fox News into a media and polit­i­cal pow­er­house were unclear on Tues­day evening. Mr Mur­doch, exec­u­tive chair­man of 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox, the channel’s par­ent com­pa­ny, and Lach­lan, his old­er son and co-chair­man, would pre­fer to wait until after this week’s Repub­li­can con­ven­tion, two peo­ple briefed on the mat­ter told the Finan­cial Times.

    James Mur­doch, Mr Murdoch’s younger son and chief exec­u­tive, was push­ing for Mr Ailes to go as soon as pos­si­ble, those peo­ple said.

    Late on Tues­day, the Drudge Report web­site said Mr Ailes had left Fox News with a $40m sev­er­ance pack­age. 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox denied the report in a tweet­ed state­ment, say­ing: “Roger is at work. The review is ongo­ing. The only agree­ment that is in place is his exist­ing employ­ment agree­ment.”

    Mr Ailes’ lawyer, Susan Estrich, told the Hol­ly­wood Reporter: “I’m not going to say it wasn’t somebody’s draft. All I can say is it doesn’t reflect the state of play at this time.” In 2012, the last year for which Mr Ailes’ pay was dis­closed in the company’s proxy fil­ing, he earned $21m, includ­ing a $5m salary.

    In a sto­ry set for its front page, the Mur­doch-owned New York Post report­ed that Mr Ailes was out as chair­man as of Tues­day night, cit­ing sources.

    The like­ly depar­ture of the for­mer aide to Richard Nixon who defied the odds when he launched Fox News 20 years ago could present a big prob­lem for the Mur­dochs. Three of Fox News’ biggest stars — Bill O’Reilly, Sean Han­ni­ty and Gre­ta Van Sus­teren — have claus­es in their con­tracts that would allow them to depart if Mr Ailes were to leave the net­work, the two peo­ple briefed on the dis­pute said.

    This means a core team of on-air tal­ent could fol­low Mr Ailes out the door.

    Mr O’Reilly said in an inter­view with the Hol­ly­wood Reporter last year that he had “no idea how the net­work would shake out if he [Roger Ailes] wasn’t here.”

    Mr Ailes has told asso­ciates he is furi­ous at his treat­ment by the Mur­dochs. 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox opened an inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into him on July 6, after Gretchen Carl­son, a for­mer news anchor, filed a law­suit alleg­ing that he fired her after 11 years for refus­ing to have a sex­u­al rela­tion­ship with him.

    Mr Ailes has denied Ms Carlson’s claims and pushed to move the case into con­fi­den­tial arbi­tra­tion.

    The executive’s down­fall comes a year after he signed a fresh mul­ti­year con­tract with Fox, at which time Rupert Mur­doch said: “Lach­lan, James and I are delight­ed that Roger will be lead­ing key busi­ness­es for us and our share­hold­ers for years to come, and he has our unwa­ver­ing sup­port.”

    In anoth­er blow to Mr Ailes, New York mag­a­zine report­ed on Tues­day that Meg­yn Kel­ly, arguably Fox News’ biggest star, told lawyers lead­ing the inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tion that Mr Ailes had sex­u­al­ly harassed her a decade ago.

    Ms Estrich denied the report. “Roger Ailes has nev­er sex­u­al­ly harassed Meg­yn Kel­ly,” she said. “In fact, he has spent much of the last decade pro­mot­ing and help­ing her to achieve the star­dom she earned, for which she has repeat­ed­ly and pub­licly thanked him.”

    ...

    The depar­ture of Mr Ailes could have an impact on the Repub­li­can par­ty. Supreme­ly well con­nect­ed, he has helped shape the Repub­li­can agen­da for more than a decade. His channel’s blend of news and blis­ter­ing opin­ion from its ros­ter of prime­time hosts has made it a must-watch for con­ser­v­a­tive vot­ers, and an impor­tant out­let for can­di­dates hop­ing to reach the base of the par­ty.

    The pow­er strug­gle over Fox News will be close­ly watched by investors in 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox, with the net­work con­tribut­ing about a fifth of the group’s annu­al net income.

    Mr Ailes built Fox into the most watched and most prof­itable cable news net­work in the US. It has trounced CNN in the rat­ings for more than a decade, mak­ing it a must-have chan­nel for cable dis­trib­u­tors and allow­ing it to report $1.5bn in prof­its last year — near­ly four times that of CNN, accord­ing to SNL Finan­cial.

    “The depar­ture of Mr Ailes could have an impact on the Repub­li­can par­ty. Supreme­ly well con­nect­ed, he has helped shape the Repub­li­can agen­da for more than a decade. His channel’s blend of news and blis­ter­ing opin­ion from its ros­ter of prime­time hosts has made it a must-watch for con­ser­v­a­tive vot­ers, and an impor­tant out­let for can­di­dates hop­ing to reach the base of the par­ty.”

    Yeah, it’s hard to see how the retire­ment of the Wiz­ard of Oz of right-wing pro­pa­gan­da over the past two decades isn’t going to impact the Repub­li­can Par­ty. Espe­cial­ly since it’s been the right-wing ‘info­tain­ment’ indus­try that has prob­a­bly done more to rad­i­cal­ize US con­ser­v­a­tives, and in turn rad­i­cal­ize GOP elect­ed offi­cials, than any oth­er force on the plan­et. Don­ald Trump might be a mas­ter as pok­ing and prod­ding the GOP base’s id but let’s not for­get who the mas­ter has been at shap­ing that id. Roger Ailes will be missed. For­tu­nate­ly he will be missed by all the wrong peo­ple.

    Keep in mind that, if Trump los­es and Ailes’s leav­ing results in a larg­er loss of core Fox tal­ent, it would be a good oppor­tu­ni­ty for the Mur­doch kids to reori­ent the net­work on a hope­ful­ly san­er path. But that can only hap­pen if the audi­ence is will­ing to fol­low Fox down that path and it’s real­ly not clear that’s the case when you con­sid­er the role the grass roots right-wing audi­ence has played in fuel­ing the rise of the Trump phe­nom­e­na. At the same time, if there’s a loss of tal­ent and Trump wins, that would be an oppor­tune time to turn the net­work basi­cal­ly into Trump TV. More so.

    Lots of twists and turns clear­ly await the Fox News fam­i­ly in the post-Ailes-era. Hope­ful­ly that era involves less sys­temic sex­u­al harass­ment.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 20, 2016, 2:00 pm
  16. Trou­ble in Par­adise? It looks like it, but giv­en that it’s a trou­bling par­adise of dam­ag­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion, the trou­ble is less than trou­bling:

    The New York Times

    After Ailes’s Depar­ture, a Stony Silence at Fox

    By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM and EMILY STEEL
    JULY 27, 2016

    PHILADELPHIA — The Fox News sky­box here turns into a hive of activ­i­ty as the network’s star anchors ana­lyze the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion for mil­lions of view­ers.

    When the cam­eras blink off, how­ev­er, the ban­ter has been replaced by some­thing rarely heard in the tele­vi­sion news busi­ness: silence.

    Meg­yn Kel­ly and her co-hosts, includ­ing Bret Baier and Brit Hume, have not been speak­ing dur­ing com­mer­cial breaks, accord­ing to two peo­ple with direct knowl­edge of the anchors’ inter­ac­tions, who described the on-set atmos­phere at Fox News as icy. Dur­ing ads, the hosts are often absorbed with their smart­phones.

    Even as Fox News goes about broad­cast­ing as usu­al, scor­ing its high­est con­ven­tion rat­ings in 20 years, inter­views this week with net­work employ­ees show an orga­ni­za­tion grap­pling with inter­nal divi­sion after the abrupt exit of Roger Ailes, the once-omnipo­tent chair­man at the cen­ter of a sex­u­al harass­ment inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Near­ly a dozen Fox News employ­ees, who work in front of and behind the cam­era, were grant­ed anonymi­ty to speak can­did­ly about high­ly sen­si­tive mat­ters inside a net­work where pri­va­cy is still prized.

    The hosts’ on-set inter­ac­tions have improved slight­ly since last week’s shows at the Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion in Cleve­land, which were broad­cast imme­di­ate­ly after Mr. Ailes’s depar­ture.

    Still, employ­ees say there is a con­tin­u­ing split inside the net­work, with one camp of old-guard Fox News loy­al­ists — some of whom owe their careers to Mr. Ailes — upset at his ouster. Some are resent­ful toward Ms. Kel­ly for coop­er­at­ing with lawyers brought in by the network’s par­ent com­pa­ny, 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox, to inves­ti­gate Mr. Ailes’s behav­ior. (About a dozen women have report­ed improp­er behav­ior by Mr. Ailes to inves­ti­ga­tors.)

    Anoth­er con­tin­gent inside Fox News is equal­ly dis­mayed by the respons­es of stars like Kim­ber­ly Guil­foyle, Gre­ta Van Sus­teren and Jea­nine Pir­ro, who were quick to pub­licly defend Mr. Ailes after he was accused of harass­ment in a suit filed by the for­mer anchor Gretchen Carl­son.

    Ms. Kel­ly has told col­leagues that she was dis­ap­point­ed with those who stepped for­ward to vouch for Mr. Ailes before know­ing the full extent of the alle­ga­tions against him. Some of her col­leagues have also spo­ken out, includ­ing the Fox con­trib­u­tor Kirsten Pow­ers and the mete­o­rol­o­gist Jan­ice Dean, who praised Ms. Kel­ly on Face­book, writ­ing: “Strong women stand up for them­selves. Stronger women stand up for oth­ers.”

    Mr. Hume, the anchor, wrote in an email on Wednes­day that any reports of ten­sion between him­self and Ms. Kel­ly were exag­ger­at­ed.

    “Yes, I am upset about Roger’s depar­ture. I love the guy,” Mr. Hume wrote.

    “I don’t think this episode was about polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness,” he added. “And I think Meg­yn Kel­ly did what she felt she had to do, and I am not upset with her.”

    Loom­ing over the Fox News oper­a­tions is a bat­tle for suc­ces­sion to Mr. Ailes, who over 20 years estab­lished his posi­tion as one of the most pow­er­ful in tele­vi­sion. And dozens of the network’s major stars and exec­u­tives have been on the road for con­ven­tion cov­er­age since before Mr. Ailes resigned, forced to keep up from afar with career-chang­ing devel­op­ments at cor­po­rate head­quar­ters in Man­hat­tan.

    “There’s no doubt this has been a chal­leng­ing time,” Rupert Mur­doch, the network’s new chair­man and media mogul, who start­ed Fox News with Mr. Ailes, wrote in a memo to the staff on Tues­day, in an attempt to bol­ster morale. Inter­nal­ly, Mr. Mur­doch has sig­naled that he is in no rush to name a suc­ces­sor, and as act­ing chief exec­u­tive he plans to be close­ly involved with the news­room; the process for a replace­ment could take months, a per­son briefed on the plans said on Wednes­day.

    ...

    “Meg­yn Kel­ly and her co-hosts, includ­ing Bret Baier and Brit Hume, have not been speak­ing dur­ing com­mer­cial breaks, accord­ing to two peo­ple with direct knowl­edge of the anchors’ inter­ac­tions, who described the on-set atmos­phere at Fox News as icy. Dur­ing ads, the hosts are often absorbed with their smart­phones.”

    Keep in mind that the New York Times recent­ly report­ed that the sex­u­al harass­ment at Fox News went way beyond Roger Ailes. So while there’s undoubt­ed­ly hurt feel­ings over the dif­fer­ent respons­es to the charges and Ailes and his even­tu­al fir­ing, it’s very pos­si­ble that there are A LOT of unre­solved harass­ment issues involv­ing oth­ers in man­age­ment, or maybe the on-air tal­ent. At this point we just know that there are alle­ga­tions that it was­n’t just Ailes doing the harass­ing but only Ailes has left.

    Whether or not there’s anoth­er round of harass­ment charges and if Fox News can avoid an inter­nal tal­ent implo­sion at that point is going to be one of the more inter­est­ing things to watch as post-Ailes Fox News takes shape. Either way, some­one had bet­ter find a way to com­fort Bill O’Reil­ly soon because he’s not tak­ing the heat very well:

    Talk­ing Points Memo Livewire

    O’Reil­ly Melts Down Over Crit­i­cism Of His Com­ments On ‘Well Fed’ Slaves

    By Caitlin Mac­Neal
    Pub­lished July 28, 2016, 7:53 AM EDT

    Fox News host Bill O’Reil­ly on Wednes­day night defend­ed his com­ments from ear­li­er this week that the slaves who helped build the White House were “well fed,” lash­ing out against his crit­ics.

    Dur­ing his show on Wednes­day night, O’Reil­ly said that his com­ments on the slaves who helped build the White House were “100 per­cent accu­rate” and pro­vid­ed “con­text” to First Lady Michelle Oba­ma’s speech at the Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­ven­tion. He said that it was “not a defense of slav­ery.”

    “For doing that, I was imme­di­ate­ly attacked by smear mer­chants,” he said. “It is a giv­en that slav­ery is an abom­i­na­tion, but report­ing the sto­ry behind Mrs. Obama’s very valid points does not dimin­ish the hor­ror of enslave­ment as these dis­hon­est crit­ics allege.”

    He then brought on fel­low Fox News per­son­al­i­ties Ger­al­do Rivera and Eric Bolling to dis­cuss the top­ic. O’Reil­ly said that Fox News hosts need to work hard­er to defend them­selves.

    “I think the time has come now, where this whole net­work is going to have to band togeth­er, all of us, and we’re going to have to call out the peo­ple who are active­ly try­ing to destroy this net­work, by using lies and decep­tion and pro­pa­gan­da. We’re going to have to start to call them out by name, because that’s how bad it’s become,” he said.

    Rivera then men­tioned an encounter he had with pro­test­ers out­side of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­ven­tion in Philadel­phia, when a pro­test­er dumped water on River­a’s head. Rivera men­tioned Black Lives Mat­ter and not­ed that many in the group are “rea­son­able and respon­si­ble,” but he said oth­ers are “race war­riors” who want to pit white peo­ple against black peo­ple.

    O’Reil­ly, respond­ed, telling Rivera that “it’s get­ting to the point of dan­ger,” argu­ing that it’s tough for Fox News reporters to go out in the field.

    “Jesse Wat­ters goes on the floor of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­ven­tion, and some pho­tog­ra­ph­er comes up and starts swear­ing at him and curs­ing at him right in his face? This is provo­ca­tion,” he con­tin­ued. “These peo­ple are doing this. They want me dead, Bolling, lit­er­al­ly dead.”

    Bolling respond­ed to O’Reil­ly, “I’m not sure they want you dead.”

    “Oh they do, believe me,” O’Reil­ly said.

    ...

    “I think the time has come now, where this whole net­work is going to have to band togeth­er, all of us, and we’re going to have to call out the peo­ple who are active­ly try­ing to destroy this net­work, by using lies and decep­tion and pro­pa­gan­da. We’re going to have to start to call them out by name, because that’s how bad it’s become,” he said.

    Yeah, Fox News has had bet­ter days, although with Ailes gone and no longer able to sex­u­al­ly extort his employ­ees this is arguably the best days Fox News has ever had. Same old poi­son over the air­ways, but with less behind-the-scenes harass­ment. It’s def­i­nite­ly an improve­ment!

    Still, con­sid­er­ing that Bill O’Reil­ly is freak­ing out about a con­spir­a­cy to kill the net­work and blab­ber­ing about peo­ple want­i­ng him dead too, it’s hard to ignore the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Fox News real­ly could be on the verge of a major exo­dus of their on-air tal­ent as a con­se­quence of a now-poi­soned cor­po­rate atmos­phere. In oth­er words, Roger Ailes’s fan club at Fox News might need to go too if the net­work can real­ly get past this scan­dal and un-poi­son the cor­po­rate atmos­phere. And if that hap­pens, Fox News could be a dif­fer­ent net­work a few years from now because that could involve a lot of the net­works most pop­u­lar, long-stand­ing tal­ent. Ailes was­n’t the only one who “built Fox News”. Sure, it would most like­ly still be a reac­tionary far right force ded­i­cat­ed to emo­tion­al­ly manip­u­lat­ing its audi­ence and pro­mot­ing igno­rance and con­fu­sion. But maybe, hope­ful­ly, the post-Ailes Fox News could be a lit­tle less ded­i­cat­ed to emo­tion­al­ly manip­u­lat­ing its audi­ence and pro­mot­ing igno­rance and con­fu­sion.

    So we’ll see what becomes of Fox News. But if it does mod­er­ate itself, even just a bit, that also rais­es the ques­tion of whether or not the net­work’s loy­al audi­ence would remain loy­al. Because it’s not like Fox News is the only far right net­work out there for peo­ple to watch. So let’s assume the pop­u­lar talk­ing heads like O’Reil­ly retire and get replaced with peo­ple that don’t quite have his appeal to Fox’s audi­ence. Where do all those view­ers go? Glenn Beck­’s BlazeTV would be one option. TrumpTV, if it becomes a real thing, could be anoth­er des­ti­na­tion.

    But as the arti­cle below makes clear, if con­ser­v­a­tive view­ers lose faith in or sour on their right-wing TV out­let of choice, Fox News, there’s one grow­ing media empire that should be excep­tion­al­ly well posi­tioned to pick up new con­ser­v­a­tive view­ers in the age of Trump: Alex Jones’s media empire:

    The New Repub­lic

    At Trump’s Coro­na­tion, Alex Jones Is King
    In Cleve­land, the mas­ter far-right con­spir­acist has emerged as a nation­al force behind the rise of Trump. But he’s still not sure about the guy.

    By Alexan­der Zaitchik
    July 21, 2016

    A few hours into Monday’s big “Amer­i­ca First” ral­ly for Don­ald Trump in Cleve­land, the Alex Jones entourage arrived in an old beige tour bus. Jones’s secu­ri­ty detail, expand­ed for the con­ven­tion, emerged from the bus first, scan­ning for threats to their stocky Tex­an boss, who’d just scored the week’s first viral media hit with a record­ed way­lay of Karl Rove at the Dal­las air­port. The Rove clip was a clas­sic Jones ambush, the kind he’s been stag­ing and shar­ing since the days of VHS tapes and padded-envelopes.

    Most of the Jones fans packed into the ral­ly were in dia­pers dur­ing Jones’s long, lone­ly pre-Inter­net career. It’s the YouTube-era celebri­ty Jones they know and love; not a few drove hun­dreds of miles to hear him speak, and only inci­den­tal­ly to cheer for Trump.  The king of con­spir­a­cy—equal parts com­ic per­for­mance artist and right-pop­ulist provocateur—did not dis­ap­point. Bound­ing onstage in sun­glass­es and a dark blaz­er, he greet­ed the crowd with thun­der­bolts from throat mus­cles forged over years of scream­ing into bull­horns until his spit­tle turned red. (The result is a vocal instru­ment unique to the annals of broad­cast­ing, as if the recom­bi­nant seed of Sam Keni­son and Lem­my had fer­til­ized and giv­en pow­er of speech to a junk­yard cement truck.) Set to burst-fire mode, Jones began to rant and preach, a hybrid ora­to­ry for which The Alex Jones Show, the mas­sive­ly pop­u­lar radio pro­gram that anchors Infowars, his swelling media empire, serves as a run­ning mas­ter class.

    “These peo­ple are not lib­er­als,” he yelled, ref­er­enc­ing the offi­cials who’d rescind­ed his per­mit to fly a “Hillary for Prison” ban­ner over Cleve­land through­out the con­ven­tion. Rather:

    They are anti-free­dom SCUM who need to get their ASS to North KOREA! We’re iden­ti­fy­ing the glob­al­ists, their pro­gram of con­trol, their oper­a­tions. Once the pub­lic under­stands the par­a­digm: IT’S! GAME! OVER! Glob­al­ism and the New World Order are in trou­ble. For­eign, multi­na­tion­al, anti-free mar­ket cor­po­ra­tions fund­ing gun con­trol and open borders—these are the peo­ple con­quer­ing us. YOU are the resis­tance! The Amer­i­can IDEA is the answer to the glob­al­ist pro­gram of enslave­ment and world­wide tyran­ny. The answer to 1984 is SE-VEN-TEEN SE-VEN-TY SIX!

    All of this is great­est-hits famil­iar to any­one who knows Jones from 1996 or 2006. Like the morning’s gueril­la-video attack on Karl Rove, the lan­guage and deliv­ery was so famil­iar you could for­get this was the Twi­light Zone Cleve­land of 2016. Birds chirp, the mail­man walks his route, Cleveland’s city fathers hang wel­come signs tout­ing the loca­tion of the world’s first elec­tric traf­fic sig­nal. But then, with­out adjust­ing your pic­ture, Karl Rove arrives a scorned and neutered dis­si­dent from a gone world, while Alex Jones, the father of 9/11 Truth and the punk jester-the­o­rist of a New World Order mas­ter con­spir­a­cy involv­ing DMT clock­work elves, receives a hero’s wel­come at the kick-off ral­ly for the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee. A nom­i­nee that, Jones believes, is one of his own.

    “There’s no way the Trump peo­ple would have reached out to me a year and a half ago, if he wasn’t aware of the work,” Jones would tell me lat­er in the week. “He’s been what you call a ‘clos­et con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist’ for 50 years. I think he’s been a chameleon in the sys­tem, and now he sees the time to strike.”

    When I pressed for details about the Trump out­reach, Jones clammed up. (Trump guest­ed on his radio show last Decem­ber, but hasn’t been a reg­u­lar.) But aside from the kin­ship of their con­spir­a­to­r­i­al world views, the human con­duit between he and Trump is clear enough: Roger Stone, Jones’s friend and fre­quent Infowars guest, is the for­mer Nixon dirty-trick­ster-turned-Trump con­fi­dant and unof­fi­cial cam­paign advis­er.

    Over the past sev­er­al months, Jones and his com­pa­ny have emerged as key wing­men in Trump’s strike for­ma­tion, ampli­fy­ing the campaign’s themes and weaponiz­ing Trump’s attacks on “Crooked Hillary.” Jones’s team hatched and pro­mot­ed the “Hillary for Prison” design meme that went wild­fire and now dom­i­nates Trump cam­paign cul­ture, from park­ing-lot merch to con­ven­tion-floor chants. (In 2009, Infowars’s meme divi­sion also released the “Oba­ma Jok­er” into the Tea Par­ty scene, adding a haunt­ing mod­ern image to what had been a sea of Gads­den flags.)

    A pio­neer in the use of tar­get­ed search­es to manip­u­late Google algo­rithms, Jones has enlist­ed his audi­ence to send “Hillary for Prison” to the top of Google’s U.S. search list, some­times beat­ing out com­pe­ti­tion like “Brex­it” and “Poke­mon Go.” For the gen­er­al elec­tion, Jones is plan­ning to fly the phrase over cities from coast to coast. But based on the num­ber of T‑shirts on view this week in Cleve­land, who needs air­planes? At Monday’s ral­ly, Stone not­ed with amused awe the sea of “Hillary for Prison” appar­el stretched out before him. “Just look at them all,” he mar­veled.

    Stone and sev­er­al oth­er speak­ers on Mon­day tipped their hats to Jones, some­times effu­sive­ly. But it was the off­hand com­ment of a man from Vet­er­ans for Trump that stopped me. “Alex Jones,” he said, “is the voice of this whole thing.”

    By “whole thing,” he meant the Trump insur­gency. Nobody chal­lenged the vet­er­an when he said it, because he was right, or more right than wrong.

    Don­ald Trump may be the candidate—older, rich­er, and more famous than Jones, a self-made impre­sario who nev­er con­sid­ered leav­ing his home base of Austin. But many in Cleve­land would see Jones as the senior part­ner in his rela­tion­ship with Trump—not just the full-throt­tle “voice” of Trump’s Amer­i­ca First con­ser­vatism, but also its father and most savvy mar­keter. Trump may have con­coct­ed his cur­rent per­sona only after tri­al-bal­loon­ing lines on the Tea Par­ty cir­cuit. But there is abun­dant record­ed evi­dence that Alex Jones has been scream­ing about glob­al­ist gob­lins and Bush fam­i­ly trea­son since he was a teenag­er read­ing John Birch Soci­ety lit­er­a­ture in the hall­ways of Austin Pub­lic Access Tele­vi­sion.

    In Cleve­land, Jones and his mul­ti-plat­form media com­pa­ny have emerged as a nation­al polit­i­cal and cul­tur­al force. Infowars, the con­sum­mate out­sider media com­pa­ny, has con­verged with an out­sider pres­i­den­tial cam­paign run­ning his­tor­i­cal­ly low on tech-savvy and media friends. This con­ver­gence, under­way for months, has been obscured by the smoke and flash of Trump’s skir­mish­es with insti­tu­tions like the Wash­ing­ton Post. But it’s pos­si­ble the scold­ing of edi­tors and colum­nists at our old­est news­pa­pers mat­ter less for Trump’s chances in Novem­ber than an online con­spir­a­cy news-and-enter­tain­ment jug­ger­naut with a staff of 60 and an Alexan­dri­an YouTube archive of Amer­i­ca First sem­i­nars that is fast approach­ing one bil­lion views.

    I first met Jones six years ago in his native Austin, where he is broad­ly appre­ci­at­ed as a link to the lost world of “Austin Weird,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ld_smuYyM24whose insti­tu­tions includ­ed the Pub­lic Access TV chan­nel where Jones cut his broad­cast­ing teeth. Until this week, I nev­er expect­ed to see Jones draw Austin lev­els of celebri­ty on the streets of any oth­er city. But he could bare­ly take a step in Cleve­land with­out being rec­og­nized and stopped. If he sat down at a bar, the first fan would appear in sec­onds with a pen. His secu­ri­ty team dis­suad­ed those who might’ve liked to approach him with some­thing sharp­er and more knife-shaped.

    On Wednes­day, two days after the ral­ly by the riv­er, I vis­it­ed Jones at his down­town hotel, across from the tall secu­ri­ty fence stretch­ing for blocks around the Quick­en Loans Are­na. The pri­or after­noon, Jones scored his his sec­ond viral hit of the week when he led his crew, bull­horn in hand, into the cen­ter of a park dense with anti-Trump pro­tes­tors. When Jones tried to climb atop a stat­ue to address the crowd, a few near­by pro­tes­tors screamed “Nazi Scum” and grabbed him, ini­ti­at­ing a con­fus­ing tus­sle quick­ly end­ed by near­by police. With­in an hour the video went up on Infowars: “Epic Alex Jones Attack Caught On Cam­era!”

    When the ele­va­tor opened in the lob­by, a dour Dinesh D’souza brushed passed me, just off his Alex Jones Show inter­view pro­mot­ing his first for­ay into con­spir­a­cy film. I arrived in Jones’s suite as he was wrap­ping up the day’s broad­cast in the radio stu­dio he’d set up in the main room fac­ing the secu­ri­ty fence across the street. A wall-length black Infowars ban­ner hung behind him; the table was cov­ered by two flags, a Gads­den and the City of Austin.

    I tell Jones it’s hard to imag­ine him sit­ting on radio row with a lan­yard around his neck, but if Trump gets elect­ed, his fans may expect him to real­ize the until-recent­ly unimag­in­able spec­ta­cle of Alex Jones deliv­er­ing a rant in the White House Brief­ing Room. It seemed the thought hadn’t yet occurred to him, and con­sid­er­ing it now, it didn’t please him.

    “If Trump gets in and starts going side­ways, if he doesn’t start doing bet­ter trade deals, then yes, I’d want that pass, because I’m com­ing out against him,” said Jones. “But I don’t care about going to the White House and get­ting pat­ted on the head by Don­ald Trump. I always want to be on the out­side. That’s where free­dom is. It’s bor­ing being around neu­rot­ic guys in suits try­ing to one up each oth­er. Those aren’t fun peo­ple.”

    A feel­ing of kin­ship with Trump’s out­sider suc­cess is a major part of what ini­tial­ly drew Jones to the cam­paign. “I’ve nev­er seen the whole estab­lish­ment lined up against some­body,” Jones said. “That’s not fake.” Indeed, there are loose par­al­lels in the way both men have been scorned and dis­missed for decades by edu­cat­ed upper-mid­dle class gate­keep­ers, and earned fierce, cult-like fol­low­ings from work­ing class men and women who see an absence of edi­fice and con­de­scen­sion in them. Trump fans and Jones fans often sound iden­ti­cal when describ­ing their heroes: they talk straight; they’re real; they don’t care what any­body thinks; they’re a fuc kin’ riot. It’s no sur­prise that being a fan of Jones leads to Trump—and vice-ver­sa.

    There’s also the over­lap in style, which is angry, and the cen­tral mes­sage, which is elites have been sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly screw­ing you and your fam­i­ly for a long time. In the case of Jones, this broad pop­ulist start­ing point can morph into a baroque com­ic fan­ta­sy of demon­ic phil­an­thropic foun­da­tions, 100-year eugen­ics ops, and the occa­sion­al unseen dimen­sion. Off the air, Jones is a lot less man­ic, and you get the sense that his con­spir­a­cies are not served for lit­er­al con­sump­tion, but rather to be tak­en the way Jones under­stands most of Trump’s extreme pro­pos­als. “The bor­der wall is just a metaphor,” he said. “It’s ridicu­lous.” (Jones, who has spent a life rail­ing against a com­ing police state, has a hard­er time squar­ing Trump’s sup­port for tor­ture. “They nev­er stopped doing it,” he said. “But I don’t sup­port it.”)

    One aspect of Trump’s neo-iso­la­tion­ist for­eign pol­i­cy sends Jones’s rea­son­ing away from com­plex­i­ty and toward the most basic thing imag­in­able: a desire to not die in a nuclear war. In our inter­view, Jones returned repeat­ed­ly to the sub­ject of Hillary Clinton’s itchy but­ton-fin­ger.

    “Don­ald Trump doesn’t want war with the Rus­sians,” Jones said. “Don­ald Trump wants to be on his big gold­en yachts and air­planes. He’s not crazy. He wants his hot wife and his golf cours­es. And that’s great. Me, I’m gonna be hang­ing out by the pool with my kids, and tak­ing them to plays, and see­ing my grand­ma, and we can all not die togeth­er in a nuclear war. I don’t know how any­body could not sup­port Trump, if only because he doesn’t want nuclear war.”

    Jones has bet the house that Trump will do more than just walk us back from WWIII with Rus­sia. Jones now lists Trump as among the mem­bers of an exclu­sive truth-telling pan­theon, includ­ing Matt Drudge, Ron Paul, and him­self. His enthu­si­asm is matched by a rotat­ing bevy of oth­er pro-Trump voic­es in the Infowars galaxy, notably fre­quent guest Roger Stone. On air, Jones is usu­al­ly guard­ed about his doubts. But he admits the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Trump could turn out to be a bust in the fight against the New World Order tyran­ny.

    “Don­ald Trump is either George Wash­ing­ton Part II, or he’s The Jok­er,” said Jones. “I think he’s for real. The dan­ger is Trump can dis­cred­it the move­ment if he doesn’t try to deliv­er. He doesn’t have to deliv­er. He has to die try­ing.”

    He went on: “Whether he’s a real-deal pop­ulist or not, peo­ple are going for him because he says he is. True pop­ulism is ris­ing and it’s only going to get big­ger. Look at Brex­it. Look at Europe. There’s anger at a glob­al­ism where big banks make secret rules. It’s going to be a long fight, but once the shad­ow gov­ern­ment of the ultra rich is iden­ti­fied, and peo­ple see how they sow up the game and use social­ism to con­trol us and keep us poor, then it’s over. The New Roy­al­ty falls.”

    He’s rolling now. “We should get rid of NATO. Let’s use the mon­ey to build stuff. The glob­al­ists always promised us this lov­ing world gov­ern­ment, but all they’re doing is sell­ing weapons and try­ing to blow the plan­et up. They’ve had their time. They’re done. It’s time to have Lord Mon­ck­ton, Nigel Farage, and Don­ald Trump set up a demo­c­ra­t­ic sys­tem where coun­tries can open­ly vote on agree­ments. And then we can build space sta­tions and shit. Behind the scenes, that’s what Don­ald Trump wants to do.”

    I’m try­ing to imag­ine one how one Amer­i­can and two Brits could set up a new glob­al sys­tem when one of Jones’s pro­duc­ers men­tions he spot­ted Nigel Farage, the Brex­it-mon­ger, on the street that morn­ing in Cleve­land with Dai­ly Caller edi­tor Tuck­er Carl­son. “He must be keep­ing his trip qui­et on pur­pose, or he’d be doing inter­views,” Jones mused. I tell Jones that a cameo by Tuck­er Carlson’s col­lege-aged son at the Mon­day ral­ly sur­prised me, and that I thought Tuck­er Carl­son wouldn’t be caught with­in a mile of an Infowars event. “Tucker’s come a long way,” said Jones. “He’s been get­ting more hard­core.”

    If more media fig­ures who once shunned Jones start get­ting “hard­core,” it could be a gen­uine change of heart, or it could be them try­ing to catch up with and imi­tate Jones’s suc­cess. At a time when many talk radio hosts are los­ing audi­ence, Jones is gain­ing. Infowars.com gets around 40 mil­lion unique vis­i­tors a month, with a video stream draw­ing around a quar­ter of that num­ber. Many come to Infowars after spot­ting a ran­dom video from Jones’s vast archive of search-opti­mized YouTube clips. Of the more than 800 mil­lion views this archive has racked up over the last decade, 300 mil­lion have occurred at a quick­en­ing pace in the last year-and-a-half. The rise of Trump has been a boon, just as the rise of Jones has boost­ed Trump. Jones has gone big-time, if not exact­ly main­stream. And it’s a queasy place for him to be. When asked about the traf­fic num­bers pro­vid­ed by Jones’s staff, he seems embar­rassed by the suc­cess.

    “What I do is not hard,” he said. “Any­body with an edu­ca­tion in his­to­ry could do it. Infowars is explod­ing because of the cli­mate we’re in.”

    What­ev­er the cause of the mush­room­ing traf­fic, Jones’s ongo­ing expan­sion toward a self-con­tained, around-the-clock media uni­verse can only be good news for the Trump cam­paign. The more bait­ed lines Infowars has float­ing around the Inter­net, the more vot­ers it will pro­duce for the Repub­li­can nomi­ness. Just ask the hun­dreds of (most­ly) young men who answered Alex Jones’s call to con­verge on Cleve­land.

    ...

    “Stone and sev­er­al oth­er speak­ers on Mon­day tipped their hats to Jones, some­times effu­sive­ly. But it was the off­hand com­ment of a man from Vet­er­ans for Trump that stopped me. “Alex Jones,” he said, “is the voice of this whole thing.”

    And that’s some­thing we can’t for­get when spec­u­lat­ing on the future direc­tion of not just Fox News but the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment in the US in gen­er­al: while the Trump polit­i­cal strat­e­gy clear­ly bor­rows a lot from strong­man fig­ures like Ben­i­to Mus­soli­ni, it’s also a vari­ant of the Alex Jones shtick. It’s a hybrid act. So if Trump wins, it’s sort of like Alex Jones became pres­i­dent. But if Trump los­es, and if we assume that Trump will remain an influ­en­tial force in the con­ser­v­a­tive media, it also makes sense that Alex Jones’s shows and oth­ers like it would have even great appeal dur­ing a Hillary Clin­ton pres­i­den­cy.

    So don’t be super sur­prise if Fox News sud­den­ly has a tal­ent exo­dus and the con­ser­v­a­tive media gets a big shake­up soon. But also don’t be sur­prised if Alex Jones is one of the main ben­e­fi­cia­ries of that shake­up. Uh oh.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 28, 2016, 3:38 pm
  17. Here’s the lat­est, and most detailed per­son­al tes­ti­mo­ny from a vic­tim of Roger Ailes’s preda­to­ry behav­ior. Part of what makes this par­tic­u­lar sto­ry so dis­turb­ing is that it starts off with Ailes groom­ing the vic­tim, Lau­ri Luhn, as his sex­u­al play­thing (in exchange for cash and jobs), but even­tu­al­ly Ailes pro­motes Luhn to a role at Fox News where her job was to find oth­er young attrac­tive women for Ailes to vic­tim­ize.

    And sim­i­lar to some of the pre­vi­ous accounts of Ailes’s m.o., Ailes filmed Luhn in com­pro­mis­ing sit­u­a­tions, mak­ing it clear that the video would go into a safe-deposit box, “just so we under­stand each oth­er.” He then informed her that she had to do every­thing he request­ed of her using some sort of weird hyp­no­sis-like tech­nique. Who knows if he actu­al­ly kept the video or that was just some­thing he would tell his vic­tims as part of some psy­cho­log­i­cal dom­i­na­tion method­ol­o­gy he’s honed over the decades. Either way, it’s becom­ing increas­ing­ly clear that the man who cre­at­ed Fox News, a net­work almost designed to induce Stock­holm Syn­drome in its audi­ence, appears to have a shock­ing amount of per­son­al expe­ri­ence at induc­ing Stock­holm Syn­drome in his employ­ees:

    New York Mag­a­zine

    For­mer Fox News Book­er Says She Was Sex­u­al­ly Harassed and ‘Psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly Tor­tured’ by Roger Ailes for More Than 20 Years

    By Gabriel Sher­man

    July 29, 2016 5:03 p.m.

    The morn­ing after Fox News chief Roger Ailes resigned, the cable network’s for­mer direc­tor of book­ing placed a call to the New York law firm hired by 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox to inves­ti­gate sex­u­al-harass­ment alle­ga­tions against Ailes. Lau­rie Luhn told the lawyers at Paul, Weiss that she had been harassed by Ailes for more than 20 years, that exec­u­tives at Fox News had known about it and helped cov­er it up, and that it had ruined her life. “It was psy­cho­log­i­cal tor­ture,” she lat­er told me.

    So far, most of the women who have spo­ken pub­licly about harass­ment by Ailes in the wake of Gretchen Carlson’s law­suit had said no to Ailes’s sex­u­al advances. They ran out of hotel rooms, they pulled away from embraces, they com­plained or avoid­ed or gen­er­al­ly resist­ed, even when it hurt their careers. This is the account of a woman who chose to go along with what Roger Ailes want­ed — because he was pow­er­ful, because she thought he could help her advance her career, because she was pro­fes­sion­al­ly adrift and emo­tion­al­ly unmoored.

    Doing so helped Luhn’s career for a time — at her peak, she earned $250,000 a year as an event plan­ner at Fox while, accord­ing to both her own account and four con­firm­ing sources, enjoy­ing Ailes’s pro­tec­tion with­in the com­pa­ny. But the arrange­ment required her to do many things she is now hor­ri­fied by, includ­ing lur­ing young female Fox employ­ees into one-on-one sit­u­a­tions with Ailes that Luhn knew could result in harass­ment. “He’s a preda­tor,” she told me. In recent years, Luhn had a series of men­tal break­downs that she attrib­ut­es to the stress of her sit­u­a­tion, and was even hos­pi­tal­ized for a time.

    Luhn recount­ed her sto­ry this week in 11 hours of inter­views at her Los Ange­les home, in the pres­ence of a fam­i­ly friend who first heard her accounts in 2010, long before there was any pub­lic dis­cus­sion of Ailes’s alleged harass­ment of women. Luhn’s strug­gle with men­tal ill­ness notwith­stand­ing, New York was able to inde­pen­dent­ly cor­rob­o­rate key details in her account, includ­ing that she was sex­u­al­ly involved with Ailes for many years, from sources who worked at Fox at the same time she did. Addi­tion­al­ly, I viewed doc­u­ments Luhn retained, includ­ing a copy of the $3.15 mil­lion sev­er­ance agree­ment she signed in 2011 that includes iron-clad nondis­clo­sure pro­vi­sions.

    (Ailes’s attor­neys Susan Estrich and Bar­ry Asen did not respond to mul­ti­ple requests for com­ment.)

    Over the course of the inter­views, Luhn alter­nat­ed between com­posed, detailed rec­ol­lec­tions and out­bursts of grief, shame, anger, and para­noia. “I’ve always won­dered,” she said, “would the truth come out?”

    *

    Luhn said she first met Ailes in the sum­mer of 1988 at the Wash­ing­ton, D.C., head­quar­ters of the George H.W. Bush pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. She was 28 and sin­gle; he was mar­ried and approach­ing 50. She’d moved from Texas to Wash­ing­ton the year before to work as a flight atten­dant for Con­ti­nen­tal Air­lines, but she quick­ly became inter­est­ed in pol­i­tics. A vol­un­teer job at the Bush cam­paign phone bank led to a full-time posi­tion in the campaign’s account­ing depart­ment. After see­ing Ailes’s polit­i­cal tele­vi­sion ads pre­viewed in the office, she decid­ed she want­ed to go into polit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tions. One Sat­ur­day morn­ing right before Labor Day, she intro­duced her­self to Ailes in the ele­va­tor at the cam­paign head­quar­ters. “I’m Lau­rie Luhn, and I got to see the ads. I’d love to learn how to do that,” she recalled say­ing. A few days lat­er, she said, Ailes called out to her as he walked by her desk: “If there is ever any­thing I can do for you, let me know.”

    In the fall of 1990, Luhn did call on him for help. She was work­ing on the pri­ma­ry con­gres­sion­al cam­paign of John Vogt in Cen­tral Flori­da. When it was clear her can­di­date was going to lose and she would have to return to Wash­ing­ton with no job and mount­ing bills, she called Ailes in New York at his media con­sult­ing com­pa­ny, Ailes Com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

    Some­time around Thanks­giv­ing, she said, Ailes called her back. He said he was in D.C. and asked if she want­ed to come by his Wash­ing­ton office for an inter­view before he flew home to New York. Luhn brought a copy of her résumé, list­ing her final title at the Bush cam­paign: office man­ag­er. “Well, we already got an office man­ag­er. I don’t real­ly know what you could do,” she recalled Ailes say­ing. Then, she said, Ailes began ask­ing per­son­al ques­tions: “Where are you from? What is your rela­tion­ship with your par­ents like?”

    Luhn said Ailes then asked her for a ride to the air­port and offered to take her out to din­ner. “I had noth­ing but bills. I was in a hor­ri­ble pan­ic. I must have told him that over din­ner,” she said. After­ward, she drove him to Ronald Rea­gan Wash­ing­ton Nation­al Air­port. “We pull up and I say, ‘Thank you so much for din­ner.’ He leans over and slips me the tongue and kiss­es me,” she said, “and hands me a wad of cash. ‘Here’s to help you pay some bills,’ he said. It was maybe $200 or $300.” To her at the time, it was a lot of mon­ey.

    After that, Luhn said, Ailes called her with an offer: He would put her on what she recalled was a $500 month­ly retain­er to do “research.” Her first assign­ment was fil­ing Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act requests on Ailes’s com­peti­tors Char­lie Black, Paul Man­afort, and Roger Stone, the lat­ter two of whom are now advis­ing Trump. The retain­er also paid for Luhn to be avail­able to meet Ailes when he was in Wash­ing­ton.

    On the night of Jan­u­ary 16, 1991, Ailes was in Wash­ing­ton to prep George H.W. Bush on his Oval Office address to announce the start of the first Gulf War. Ailes and Luhn again met for din­ner. Accord­ing to Luhn, he asked her to go home, watch the speech, and then meet him at the Crys­tal City Mar­riott, where he had a suite. By this point, Luhn under­stood what Ailes expect­ed of her, but she went with him any­way.

    She recalled that, when she walked into the hotel room, Ailes asked her what she thought of Bush’s speech. “I was always very com­pli­men­ta­ry,” she told me. “I want­ed to learn how to do all that. I want­ed to learn how to do the ads, how to do the coach­ing. I want­ed to learn how to work with can­di­dates.”

    Luhn put on the black garter and stock­ings she said Ailes had instruct­ed her to buy; he called it her uni­form. Ailes sat on a couch. “Go over there. Dance for me,” she recalled him say­ing. She hes­i­tat­ed. “Lau­rie, if you’re gonna be my girl, my eyes and ears, if you are going to be some­one I can depend on in Wash­ing­ton, my spy, come on, dance for me,” he said, accord­ing to her account. When she start­ed danc­ing, Ailes got out a video cam­era. Luhn didn’t want to be filmed, she said, but Ailes was insis­tent: “I am gonna need you to do bet­ter than that.”

    When she had fin­ished danc­ing, Ailes told her to get down on her knees in front of him, she said, and put his hands on her tem­ples. As she recalled, he began speak­ing to her slow­ly and author­i­ta­tive­ly, as if he were some kind of Sven­gali: “Tell me you will do what I tell you to do, when I tell you to do it. At any time, at any place when I call. No mat­ter where I call you, no mat­ter where you are. Do you under­stand? You will fol­low orders. If I tell you to put on your uni­form, what are you gonna do, Lau­rie? WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO, LAURIE?” Then, she recalled, his voice dropped to a whis­per: “What are you, Lau­rie? Are you Roger’s whore? Are you Roger’s spy? Come over here.” Ailes asked her to per­form oral sex, she said.

    Lat­er, Ailes showed her the footage of her danc­ing. She asked him what he intend­ed to do with it and, she says, he replied, “I am going to put it in a safe-deposit box just so we under­stand each oth­er.”

    After that, Luhn said, she reg­u­lar­ly met Ailes in hotels for sex­u­al encoun­ters. He asked her to buy a boom box so she could bring music to dance to. Ailes always left cash for her. A cou­ple of times, while he was advis­ing French politi­cian Jacques Chirac, he gave her francs. “I remem­ber I had to go exchange the mon­ey,” Luhn said.

    *

    As Ailes moved from pol­i­tics to tele­vi­sion news, Luhn had hopes of going along with him. In 1993, NBC hired Ailes to be pres­i­dent of CNBC. Ailes dan­gled the prospect of an on-air job at the finan­cial-news chan­nel. “He played me,” said Luhn. “He says, ‘I’d like you to come read for me, but you’ll have to get rid of your Texas accent.’ That’s how he does it. The job obvi­ous­ly nev­er hap­pened.”

    In the spring of 1996, Ailes recruit­ed Luhn to work on the launch of Fox News. “Rupert is going to pay for this chan­nel. I want to see if you can come,” she said Ailes told her in the lob­by of the Crys­tal City Mar­riott. A Fox exec­u­tive called her a few days lat­er and offered her a job as a “guest rela­tions” staffer on Fox News Sun­day, the pub­lic-affairs pro­gram.

    At this point, Luhn could have stayed away from Ailes. She had a job as a legal aide at the lob­by­ing firm Pat­ton Bog­gs and “was pret­ty hap­py,” she recalled. But she chose to go work for him at Fox News. Why would she do this? Luhn’s expla­na­tion is that Ailes held her so much in his sway that she couldn’t resist. “I was pro­grammed,” she said. Even today, she said, “some­times the Stock­holm syn­drome with Roger slips back, and I am still a lit­tle girl try­ing to impress Dad­dy Roger.”

    Plus, going to Fox moved her career in a direc­tion she want­ed it to go. She thought work­ing with the guests on cable news seemed like a glam­orous oppor­tu­ni­ty. “I loved that job,” she said. “I loved book­ing. I loved build­ing the con­tacts and mak­ing sure that those guests were going to love the expe­ri­ence they would have at Fox News, that they would want to come back.”

    At first, Luhn didn’t see much of Ailes at Fox. But after the net­work was up and run­ning, she said, the hotel meet­ings resumed. Now he began call­ing her to New York for encoun­ters. They devel­oped a sys­tem. She says that Ailes or Fox exec­u­tive Bill Shine would call then–Washington bureau chief Kim Hume and tell her there was a “book­ing meet­ing” in New York that Luhn need­ed to attend. (Through a spokesper­son, Shine con­firmed he called Luhn to New York for book­ing meet­ings.)

    They met in the after­noons, she said, usu­al­ly at the Dou­ble­Tree in Times Square, some­times the Renais­sance — Fox peo­ple pre­ferred the Muse. “It was always the on-my-knees, hold-my-tem­ples rou­tine. There was no affair, no sex, no love,” she said. Ailes con­tin­ued to give Luhn cash after­ward, and she began rack­ing up per­son­al expens­es on her Fox News cred­it card. (Luhn said she always paid the bills back.)

    As she was pro­mot­ed through the ranks at Fox, Luhn worked hard­er and hard­er to please Ailes. She zeal­ous­ly pro­mot­ed the network’s right-wing agen­da. “I was very proud of the prod­uct. I was very proud of how we han­dled 9/11. Very proud of how we han­dled the run-up to the Iraq War,” she said. “My job was to sell the war. I need­ed to get peo­ple on the air that were attrac­tive and artic­u­late and could con­vey the impor­tance of this cam­paign. It was a drum­beat.”

    Luhn said she sensed her col­leagues in the Wash­ing­ton bureau gos­siped about her fre­quent trips to New York and treat­ed her sus­pi­cious­ly. She is con­vinced that many peo­ple at Fox News knew about what was going on with Ailes. “They all knew there was quid pro quo,” Luhn recalled. Two for­mer Fox employ­ees con­firmed peo­ple knew Ailes was involved with Luhn.

    A for­mer col­league in Fox’s Wash­ing­ton bureau said that Luhn was “dys­func­tion­al” at work. “No one knew what the heck she did,” the col­league said. “She was a ‘pro­tect­ed per­son’ and left alone.”

    Luhn’s rela­tion­ship with her boss at the time, Wash­ing­ton bureau chief Kim Hume, became strained. Hume threat­ened to fire her when she sub­mit­ted an expense report for the Dou­ble­Tree hotel, Luhn recalled. “She said, ‘Do you expect me to sign that? I can get you out of here. I’d get you six weeks of sev­er­ance.’” (Hume did not respond to a request for com­ment.)

    In 2004, Luhn told Ailes about Hume’s sus­pi­cions. Ailes came up with a solu­tion: Luhn got a pro­mo­tion and a raise, and she would report to Ailes’s deputy Shine. Ailes sum­moned Luhn to New York to tell her the news, Luhn said. Then he told her to call Hume, from his exten­sion, and inform her that she would no longer be report­ing to her. She did, she told me, and Hume hung up. Ailes was send­ing a mes­sage to the bureau chief: Luhn was pro­tect­ed by him. Inside Fox News, Luhn became known as an “FOR” — friend of Roger. After the call, accord­ing to Luhn, Ailes turned to her and said, “Now, remem­ber, you’re Doris Day. Go put your uni­form on, get over to the Dou­ble­Tree, and thank me for this.”

    Around this time, Ailes’s star Bill O’Reilly was accused by a Fox pro­duc­er named Andrea Mack­ris of engag­ing in unwant­ed phone sex with her. O’Reilly set­tled with her for a report­ed $10 mil­lion. Despite the obvi­ous risks, Ailes’s sex­u­al demands only grew more intense after he pro­mot­ed Luhn, she said. On three occa­sions, twice at the Renais­sance and once at the Omni Berk­shire, she said, Ailes demand­ed that she engage in sado­masochis­tic sex with anoth­er woman while he watched. The final such ses­sion occurred in the sum­mer of 2005, Luhn recalled. Ailes snapped pic­tures. After­ward, he left $1,000 on the dress­er and invit­ed the two women to a par­ty at Elaine’s on the Upper East Side, Luhn said. “I remem­ber him being there hold­ing court.”

    *

    By 2006, Luhn said, Ailes was reg­u­lar­ly demand­ing phone sex in the office, but the hotel vis­its had stopped. Instead, said Luhn, Ailes instruct­ed her to recruit young women for him. “You’re going to find me ‘Roger’s Angels.’ You’re going to find me whores,” Luhn recalled Ailes say­ing on numer­ous occa­sions, urg­ing her to send young Fox staffers his way. He had pro­mot­ed Luhn to direc­tor of book­ings, which gave her the author­i­ty to hire employ­ees. She said she chose women Ailes would be attract­ed to. “You’re not expect­ed to hire unat­trac­tive peo­ple,” she said.

    Luhn denied ever set­ting Ailes up with her staff for explic­it­ly sex­u­al pur­pos­es, but she did send them in for pri­vate meet­ings with him where she knew they could be exposed to sex­u­al harass­ment. One woman who worked for Luhn and spoke only on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty said that Luhn sent her to an after-hours meet­ing with Ailes in his office. Accord­ing to this woman’s account, Ailes fol­lowed the same pat­tern he used with Luhn many years before: He asked her about her fam­i­ly and career goals and offered to men­tor her — per­haps it would give him “ener­gy.” Ailes also asked about the woman’s shoes, she told me, com­ment­ing that “women who like shoes also like lin­gerie.” He also men­tioned that he had advised heads of state with “absolute loy­al­ty and dis­cre­tion,” so that meant she could “tell [him] every­thing.” The woman said she found the con­ver­sa­tion high­ly inap­pro­pri­ate and uncom­fort­able. Ailes tried to hug her and she left the meet­ing shak­en. Months lat­er, Luhn fired the woman. She hired a lawyer and signed a set­tle­ment with Fox.

    Mean­while, Luhn’s emo­tion­al con­di­tion wors­ened. In the win­ter of 2007, Ailes removed her from the book­ing depart­ment and moved her to event plan­ning, in what was essen­tial­ly a no-show job. A high-rank­ing Fox source close to Ailes con­firmed that Ailes pro­mot­ed Luhn into “fake jobs” to keep her “in the tent.”

    ...

    In late 2010 or ear­ly 2011, Luhn said, she wrote a let­ter to Fox lawyer Dianne Bran­di say­ing she had been sex­u­al­ly harassed by Ailes for 20 years. Bran­di did not acknowl­edge receipt of the let­ter, but, accord­ing to a source, she asked Ailes about the sex­u­al-harass­ment alle­ga­tions, which he vehe­ment­ly denied. Ailes, accord­ing to the source, told Bran­di to work out a set­tle­ment. Luhn hired an attor­ney to nego­ti­ate her exit from Fox.

    Through a spokesper­son, Bran­di declined to com­ment.

    On June 15, 2011, Luhn and Bran­di signed a $3.15 mil­lion set­tle­ment agree­ment with exten­sive nondis­clo­sure pro­vi­sions. The set­tle­ment doc­u­ment, which Luhn showed me, bars her from going to court against Fox for the rest of her life. It also pre­cludes her from speak­ing to gov­ern­ment author­i­ties like the Equal Employ­ment Oppor­tu­ni­ty Com­mis­sion and the FBI. Not to men­tion the press. Aware that speak­ing with New York on the record could pose legal risks, Luhn was insis­tent that she want­ed to tell her sto­ry. “The truth shall set you free. Noth­ing else mat­ters,” she told me. Her fam­i­ly friend also said this is what Luhn want­ed.

    Last sum­mer, Luhn moved back to Los Ange­les from San Anto­nio. Unem­ployed and unsure of what to do, she sent Roger Ailes a let­ter. She shared a copy with me:

    Roger,

    Last week, as I was walk­ing on the beau­ti­ful San­ta Mon­i­ca Beach and pon­der­ing my future, I won­dered how you would advise me. Since you were my men­tor for so many years, it still feels strange when I am unable to con­sult you...

    While I believe for­give­ness is very impor­tant all the way around, espe­cial­ly if I am to con­vey that I have moved past the sad­ness of 2011, I also believe some con­text and back­ground would be help­ful for you to bet­ter under­stand your for­mer pro­tégé at this time.

    The past few years have not been easy. Bill Shine sent me to a San Anto­nio psychiatrist...It was a true night­mare. What I real­ly need­ed was sleep, and maybe some sort of coun­sel­ing. Instead, what I got was a doc­tor who imme­di­ate­ly pre­scribed very dan­ger­ous, seri­ous meds. Those drugs made me hal­lu­ci­nate for over a year....You had always said to stay away from meds...It was an extreme­ly fright­en­ing ordeal. A woman with a nor­mal brain should not be giv­en seri­ous med­ica­tion meant for sick peo­ple. The only rea­son I final­ly got off the drugs was due to an over­dose. When my head final­ly cleared, it was like wak­ing up from a very long, con­fus­ing dream.

    Sad­ly, I real­ized that I’d lost a year and a half of my life. For­tu­nate­ly, I got some coun­sel­ing from a com­pe­tent per­son who rec­og­nized the tur­moil I’d expe­ri­enced. It was a long road to good health, but, by the grace of God, I got there.

    Roger, I still want a chance to live a hap­py, mean­ing­ful life filled with kind, inter­est­ing peo­ple. You gave me the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work in tele­vi­sion news and event plan­ning. I loved work­ing at Fox until the rumors and mali­cious gos­sip made it tru­ly unbear­able. I endured a great deal. That’s the part that I can­not dis­cuss with your lieu­tenants. They do not know or are in a posi­tion to under­stand.

    The gen­er­ous finan­cial com­pen­sa­tion I received from Fox made the heal­ing pos­si­ble. I was able to spend time with some peo­ple who actu­al­ly cared about me. For that, I thank you very much. I am deeply grateful….You are in a unique posi­tion. I believe that you under­stand me, and you are also able to rec­og­nize my predica­ment. I need a job in LA. I am ask­ing for your help. Please help me Roger. I have been a good sol­dier...

    A UPS track­ing num­ber Luhn pro­vid­ed indi­cates that the let­ter was received by the Fox mail­room. Luhn said she nev­er heard from Ailes after she sent it, but did get a call from Bran­di, who asked her, “Are you try­ing to do some­thing to Roger? What is this?” (Bran­di did not respond to three requests for com­ment.)

    Luhn con­tin­ues to strug­gle with intense peri­ods of anx­i­ety and para­noia. After call­ing Paul, Weiss last Fri­day, she sent an email late the fol­low­ing night to Michele Hir­sh­man, the part­ner lead­ing the 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox inves­ti­ga­tion, express­ing pan­ic. The sub­ject line read “Secu­ri­ty”: “Michele, my sit­u­a­tion has become more seri­ous. The stalk­ing and intim­i­da­tion was far worse today. I believe my entire house is wired. They are both mon­i­tor­ing and try­ing to scare me.” (Hir­sh­man did not respond to requests for com­ment.)

    Luhn seems to under­stand that mes­sages like these do not help her case, that this, cou­pled with her bouts of men­tal ill­ness, could make her seem like an unre­li­able nar­ra­tor. But the cred­i­bil­i­ty of her account is sup­port­ed by, among oth­er things, the fact that Fox News paid her mil­lions of dol­lars to pre­vent her from telling it. “I am report­ing sex­u­al harass­ment,” she told me. “Whether I am a crazy per­son or not, I am report­ing sex­u­al harass­ment.”

    “By 2006, Luhn said, Ailes was reg­u­lar­ly demand­ing phone sex in the office, but the hotel vis­its had stopped. Instead, said Luhn, Ailes instruct­ed her to recruit young women for him. “You’re going to find me ‘Roger’s Angels.’ You’re going to find me whores,” Luhn recalled Ailes say­ing on numer­ous occa­sions, urg­ing her to send young Fox staffers his way. He had pro­mot­ed Luhn to direc­tor of book­ings, which gave her the author­i­ty to hire employ­ees. She said she chose women Ailes would be attract­ed to. “You’re not expect­ed to hire unat­trac­tive peo­ple,” she said.

    We’ll see how far the inves­ti­ga­tion into Ailes’s alleged preda­to­ry behav­ior goes but it sure does­n’t sound like Lau­rie Luh­n’s per­son­al tes­ti­mo­ny is going to be the last one of this nature to come out.

    And in oth­er news...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 2, 2016, 2:45 pm
  18. With Roger Ailes and Fox News fac­ing a seem­ing­ly end­less wave of sex­u­al harass­ment accu­sa­tions back decades, one of the obvi­ous ques­tions raised by the scan­dal is how such an influ­en­tial and notable per­son like Ailes could get away with this kind of preda­to­ry behav­ior for so long. And while cor­po­rate cul­ture no doubt played a role, the ‘black-room’ of staff ded­i­cat­ed to inves­ti­gat­ing and smear­ing Ailes’s ene­mies prob­a­bly had some­thing to do with his preda­to­ry suc­cess:

    New York Mag­a­zine
    Dai­ly Intel­li­gencer

    Roger Ailes Used Fox News Bud­get to Finance ‘Black-Room’ Cam­paigns Against His Ene­mies

    By Gabriel Sher­man

    August 7, 2016 6:30 a.m.

    As Rupert Mur­doch seeks to sta­bi­lize Fox News in the wake of Roger Ailes’s ouster, a cru­cial ques­tion remains unan­swered: How was Ailes able to spend mil­lions of dol­lars to set­tle sex­u­al-harass­ment claims with­out set­ting off alarm bells?

    Accord­ing to three high­ly placed sources, part of the answer is that there were few checks on Ailes when it came to the Fox News bud­get. “It was the cul­ture,” one Fox exec­u­tive said. “You didn’t ask ques­tions, and Roger wouldn’t enter­tain ques­tions.” One for­mer News Corp exec­u­tive explained that because Fox made more than $1 bil­lion in annu­al prof­its, the funds that were used for set­tle­ments amount­ed to lit­tle more than “a round­ing error.”

    But with Ailes gone, Fox exec­u­tives are now look­ing close­ly at how Ailes spent Fox mon­ey. And what they are dis­cov­er­ing is that, beyond the sex­u­al-harass­ment claims, Ailes was also able to use por­tions of the Fox bud­get to hire con­sul­tants, polit­i­cal oper­a­tives, and pri­vate detec­tives who report­ed only to him, accord­ing to a senior Fox source. Last week, accord­ing to the source, Fox News dis­missed five con­sul­tants whom Ailes had hired to do work that was more about advanc­ing his own agen­da than Fox’s. One of the con­sul­tants, Bert Soli­van, ran neg­a­tive PR cam­paigns against Ailes’s per­son­al and polit­i­cal ene­mies out of Fox News head­quar­ters, a source said. A Fox News spokesper­son con­firmed, “Soli­van was recent­ly informed that his ser­vices were no longer need­ed.” Soli­van, who had pre­vi­ous­ly worked for Fox News as a gen­er­al man­ag­er of the channel’s web­site, did not respond to requests for com­ment.

    Accord­ing to one high­ly placed source, Soli­van worked out of what Fox insid­ers called “the Black Room,” an oper­a­tion Ailes estab­lished around 2011 to con­duct PR and sur­veil­lance cam­paigns against peo­ple he tar­get­ed, both inside and out­side the com­pa­ny. The “Black Room” was locat­ed on the 14th floor of the News Corp build­ing at 1211 Avenue of the Amer­i­c­as, a qui­et part of the office that housed Fox News Lati­no and some mar­ket­ing and pro­mo­tions employ­ees. Fox employ­ees Ken LaCorte and Jim Pinker­ton — vet­er­an polit­i­cal oper­a­tives who’ve worked with Ailes since the 1980s — also worked with Soli­van, the source said, adding that Ailes’s per­son­al lawyer and Fox con­trib­u­tor Peter John­son Jr. advised the team. (In an email, John­son denied any involve­ment in “Black-Room” cam­paigns, say­ing, “The only online cam­paign I’m aware of is yours, attempt­ing to cre­ate a truth from a fic­tion with this account.”)

    Tar­gets of the cam­paigns includ­ed jour­nal­ists John Cook and Hamil­ton Nolan, who have aggres­sive­ly cov­ered Ailes for Gawk­er. Accord­ing to one source, pri­vate detec­tives fol­lowed Cook around his Brook­lyn neigh­bor­hood, and Fox oper­a­tives pre­pared a report on him with infor­ma­tion they intend­ed to leak to blogs. (Accord­ing to the source, one pro­posed line of attack claimed that Cook — whose wife, Slate news direc­tor Alli­son Benedikt, is Jew­ish — was anti-Semit­ic.) “I’m hon­ored to be among Roger Ailes’s ene­mies,” Cook said.

    Fox oper­a­tives also tar­get­ed Joe Lind­s­ley, the for­mer edi­tor of Ailes’s local news­pa­per, the Put­nam Coun­ty News and Recorder. In April 2011, Lind­s­ley had a falling-out with Ailes and quit the paper, along with two co-work­ers. Ailes assigned pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tors to fol­low Lind­s­ley around Put­nam Coun­ty. He also asked Fox host Andrea Tan­ta­ros, whom Ailes had once seat­ed next to Lind­s­ley at a din­ner par­ty at Ailes’s home, to con­tact Lind­s­ley and report back on his where­abouts, two sources said. Mean­while, Soli­van post­ed neg­a­tive com­ments about Lind­s­ley on blogs, a source said.

    I was also the tar­get of an oper­a­tion, a source told me: In 2012, while I was research­ing a biog­ra­phy of Ailes, Fox oper­a­tives set up web­pages to attack my rep­u­ta­tion, and Fox funds paid for Google search ads against my name that linked to the sites. One source also said pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tors employed by Fox con­trib­u­tor Bo Dietl were instruct­ed to fol­low me and my wife. (Dietl’s firm was used to track Andrea Mack­ris, the pro­duc­er who accused Bill O’Reilly of sex­u­al harass­ment in 2004, the source said.) When reached by phone, Dietl said, “I have no real com­ments. I love Roger Ailes. He built one of the great news chan­nels out of noth­ing. He’s a very suc­cess­ful guy.”

    The alle­ga­tions about Ailes’s ques­tion­able use of Fox resources raise the issue of how much oth­er high-rank­ing offi­cials knew about his activ­i­ties. Fox News CFO Mark Kranz, for instance, approved bud­get expen­di­tures through­out this peri­od, and gen­er­al coun­sel Dianne Bran­di approved con­tracts. Through a spokesper­son, both Kranz and Bran­di said they had no knowl­edge of expen­di­tures for sur­veil­lance and online attacks.

    ...

    Mean­while, Fox exec­u­tives con­tin­ue to ana­lyze the list of con­sul­tants on Fox’s pay­roll to deter­mine who is doing legit­i­mate work for the net­work and who was hired by Ailes to do his per­son­al bid­ding. The senior source said that more peo­ple will like­ly be let go in the days ahead.

    “But with Ailes gone, Fox exec­u­tives are now look­ing close­ly at how Ailes spent Fox mon­ey. And what they are dis­cov­er­ing is that, beyond the sex­u­al-harass­ment claims, Ailes was also able to use por­tions of the Fox bud­get to hire con­sul­tants, polit­i­cal oper­a­tives, and pri­vate detec­tives who report­ed only to him, accord­ing to a senior Fox source. Last week, accord­ing to the source, Fox News dis­missed five con­sul­tants whom Ailes had hired to do work that was more about advanc­ing his own agen­da than Fox’s. One of the con­sul­tants, Bert Soli­van, ran neg­a­tive PR cam­paigns against Ailes’s per­son­al and polit­i­cal ene­mies out of Fox News head­quar­ters, a source said. A Fox News spokesper­son con­firmed, “Soli­van was recent­ly informed that his ser­vices were no longer need­ed.” Soli­van, who had pre­vi­ous­ly worked for Fox News as a gen­er­al man­ag­er of the channel’s web­site, did not respond to requests for com­ment.”

    Yeah, Ailes’s per­son­al army of detec­tives and con­sul­tants capa­ble of run­ning PR cam­paigns against his ene­mies prob­a­bly did­n’t do much reduce his propen­si­ty to harass his employ­ees. Let’s hope the yet-to-be-announced new head of Fox News has that par­tic­u­lar exec­u­tive priv­i­lege left out of their com­pen­sa­tion pack­age.

    Also note that when you read:

    ...
    Fox oper­a­tives also tar­get­ed Joe Lind­s­ley, the for­mer edi­tor of Ailes’s local news­pa­per, the Put­nam Coun­ty News and Recorder. In April 2011, Lind­s­ley had a falling-out with Ailes and quit the paper, along with two co-work­ers. Ailes assigned pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tors to fol­low Lind­s­ley around Put­nam Coun­ty. He also asked Fox host Andrea Tan­ta­ros, whom Ailes had once seat­ed next to Lind­s­ley at a din­ner par­ty at Ailes’s home, to con­tact Lind­s­ley and report back on his where­abouts, two sources said. Mean­while, Soli­van post­ed neg­a­tive com­ments about Lind­s­ley on blogs, a source said
    ...

    Andrea Tan­ta­ros does­n’t just report­ed­ly have expe­ri­ence act­ing as Ailes’s spy as part of one of his per­son­al PR cam­paigns against a for­mer employ­ee he had a falling out with. Tan­ta­ros was also a vic­tim of Ailes ‘let me harass you or you’ll be punished’-style of cor­po­rate man­age­ment:

    New York Mag­a­zine

    Fox News Host Andrea Tan­ta­ros Says She Was Tak­en Off the Air After Mak­ing Sex­u­al-Harass­ment Claims Against Roger Ailes

    By Gabriel Sher­man

    August 8, 2016 3:57 p.m.

    Fox News’ senior exec­u­tives have said they were unaware of sex­u­al-harass­ment alle­ga­tions against Roger Ailes before for­mer anchor Gretchen Carl­son filed a law­suit against him in July. But those claims are now being chal­lenged by Fox host Andrea Tan­ta­ros, who says that she com­plained mul­ti­ple times to senior Fox exec­u­tives in 2015 about Ailes’s inap­pro­pri­ate sex­u­al behav­ior toward her. Tan­ta­ros says that, after she came for­ward, she was first demot­ed and even­tu­al­ly tak­en off the air in April 2016. Fox con­tin­ues to pay her.

    Through her lawyer, Judd Burstein, Tan­ta­ros says that both she and her agent told Fox exec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent Bill Shine, senior vice-pres­i­dent Suzanne Scott, and gen­er­al coun­sel Dianne Bran­di about episodes of Ailes’s alleged harass­ment. “She made mul­ti­ple harass­ment and hos­tile-work­place com­plaints,” Burstein says. As far as Tan­ta­ros knows, Fox exec­u­tives nev­er inves­ti­gat­ed her com­plaints, Burstein says; instead, they claim, Fox side­lined her. “I believe it’s retal­ia­to­ry,” says Burstein.

    Fox’s attor­neys dis­pute this. The net­work says Tan­ta­ros was sus­pend­ed with pay because she vio­lat­ed com­pa­ny pol­i­cy by not allow­ing Fox to vet her 2016 book, Tied Up in Knots: How Get­ting What They Want­ed Has Made Women Mis­er­able. Fox attor­neys told Burstein the net­work was embar­rassed by her book’s cov­er, which depicts Tan­ta­ros bound by ropes.

    Accord­ing to Tantaros’s account, Ailes began harass­ing her on August 12, 2014. Dur­ing a meet­ing in Ailes’s office, Ailes alleged­ly asked Tan­ta­ros to do “the twirl” so he could see her fig­ure. She refused. Then, in mid-Decem­ber of that year, Ailes made anoth­er advance, Burstein says. “Ailes asked her to turn around, and then he said, ‘Come over here so I can give you a hug.’” Tan­ta­ros rebuffed the advance, Burstein says.

    In Feb­ru­ary 2015, Tan­ta­ros was pulled off the 5 p.m. pro­gram The Five and demot­ed to work­ing full-time on the mid­day show Out­num­bered. In Feb­ru­ary 2015, accord­ing to Burstein, Ailes alleged­ly harassed Tan­ta­ros again in his office, ask­ing about her work­out rou­tine because her body “looked good” and men­tion­ing that she must “real­ly look good in a biki­ni.”

    On April 30, 2015, Tan­ta­ros filed a for­mal work­place harass­ment com­plaint about Ailes to Shine, Burstein says. The fol­low­ing day, Burstein says, Tan­ta­ros met with Shine to fur­ther dis­cuss her harass­ment claims. Shine alleged­ly told her, “Roger is a very pow­er­ful man,” and that she “should not fight this.”

    In August, her agent spoke with Bran­di about the episode; accord­ing to the agent, Bran­di said she would look into the mat­ter but did not fol­low up.

    After mak­ing more com­plaints to Shine and Scott over the course of the next year, Tan­ta­ros was sus­pend­ed from the net­work in April 2016. “All of a sud­den, the book became this big issue,” Burstein says.

    A few weeks before she was sus­pend­ed, Tan­ta­ros hired Burstein, an aggres­sive lit­i­ga­tor who has his­to­ry bat­tling Fox, to nego­ti­ate the dis­pute over her book. Burstein had nego­ti­at­ed a mul­ti-mil­lion-dol­lar sev­er­ance pack­age in 2013 for Bri­an Lewis, Ailes’s then-com­mu­ni­ca­tions chief, who was fired by Ailes after he accused Lewis of being a source for the Ailes biog­ra­phy I was writ­ing at the time.

    Burstein says Tan­ta­ros, who is still employed by Fox, knows she is tak­ing a risk in vio­lat­ing her contract’s con­fi­den­tial­i­ty clause. She’s telling her sto­ry now, he says, because “she doesn’t have the same fear of being attacked by the Fox PR machine, and the Mur­dochs have made it clear they want to clean up the place.”

    ...

    “Burstein says Tan­ta­ros, who is still employed by Fox, knows she is tak­ing a risk in vio­lat­ing her contract’s con­fi­den­tial­i­ty clause. She’s telling her sto­ry now, he says, because “she doesn’t have the same fear of being attacked by the Fox PR machine, and the Mur­dochs have made it clear they want to clean up the place.””

    Well, good luck to Mur­dochs at clean­ing up the place. It sounds like Ailes’s harass­ment was a full-time job so there’s prob­a­bly going to be a lot more clean­ing to do. For­tu­nate­ly, thanks to the $1 bil­lion in rev­enue Fox News makes each year warp­ing the Amer­i­can psy­che there should be plen­ty of mon­ey to pay for all the legal set­tle­ments that undoubt­ed­ly com­ing up. So at least the harassed women of Fox News will get some sort of com­pen­sa­tion with­out the com­pa­ny declar­ing bank­rupt­cy first. And there we have it, the one pos­i­tive thing to come out of the decades of the Fox News phe­nom­e­na: its hor­ri­ble suc­cess should pro­vide plen­ty funds to pay for all the cor­po­rate harass­ment vic­tims. Yay.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 8, 2016, 2:31 pm
  19. Here’s one more rea­son to hope that the vic­tims of Roger Ailes’s ser­i­al harass­ment get ALL the mon­ey they can from Fox News’s par­ent cor­po­ra­tion 21 Cen­tu­ry Fox: 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox is report­ed­ly ask­ing Ailes to fund part of any set­tle­ment with Gretchen Carl­son and that set­tle­ment could reach 8 fig­ures in part because of exis­tence of audio tapes record­ed by mul­ti­ple women in con­ver­sa­tion with Ailes. Let’s hope the 8 fig­ure set­tle­ments aren’t lim­it­ed to Carl­son. And in relat­ed news, we’re get­ting a bet­ter idea of how Ailes may have kept a leash on his staff: they appar­ent­ly long assumed he was wire­tap­ping their phones.

    So secret record­ings might help take down a pow­er­ful exec­u­tive who alleged­ly used employ­ee wire­tap­ping as a means of keep his scan­dals under wraps. That’s sort of poet­ic jus­tice if that’s how it plays out, although note that if Carl­son’s case does go to tri­al, as opposed to the pri­vate arbi­tra­tion Ailes is try­ing to arrange in place of tri­al, the world could get direct audio expo­sure to Roger work­ing his ver­bal sleaze mag­ic. There’s prob­a­bly going not going to be too much poet­ry there:

    New York Mag­a­zine

    Report: ‘Mul­ti­ple Women’ Taped Con­ver­sa­tions With Roger Ailes

    By Mar­garet Hart­mann

    August 9, 2016 4:41 a.m.

    New reports sug­gest the atmos­phere at Fox News under Roger Ailes was more Nixon­ian than pre­vi­ous­ly thought — though none of it should real­ly come as a sur­prise since Ailes got his start in pol­i­tics work­ing for our most para­noid pres­i­dent.

    On Mon­day, Van­i­ty Fair report­ed that the set­tle­ment in Gretchen Carlson’s sex­u­al-harass­ment law­suit against Ailes may reach “eight fig­ures” due to “the exis­tence of audio tapes record­ed by mul­ti­ple women in con­ver­sa­tion with Ailes, two peo­ple famil­iar with the tapes said.” The mag­a­zine did not elab­o­rate on what the tapes might con­tain, but with mul­ti­ple women now claim­ing that they too were sex­u­al­ly harassed by the for­mer CEO, we have an idea.

    In those set­tle­ment nego­ti­a­tions, 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox is report­ed­ly ask­ing Ailes to fund part of any agree­ment with Carl­son. Ailes has denied all the alle­ga­tions, but accord­ing to Van­i­ty Fair his attor­neys are push­ing to have the nego­ti­a­tions with Carl­son take place in pri­vate arbi­tra­tion due to the record­ings. “If they lit­i­gate the case, all the tapes will become pub­lic, direct­ly and through oth­ers,” a source said. “Then you will have a parade of women come in. Nobody wants that.”

    ...

    Mean­while, CNNMoney’s Dylan Byers says Fox News staffers feared that Ailes was spy­ing on them. On Sun­day, New York’s Gabriel Sher­man report­ed that the CEO used the Fox News bud­get to “hire con­sul­tants, polit­i­cal oper­a­tives, and pri­vate detec­tives” to go after jour­nal­ists he con­sid­ered his ene­mies. Byers adds that six cur­rent and for­mer employ­ees told him the network’s pro­duc­ers and on-air tal­ent were afraid that the CEO was tap­ping their phones and mon­i­tor­ing their con­ver­sa­tions.

    “We all believe our phones are tapped and that we are mon­i­tored,” one Fox per­son­al­i­ty said.

    “Peo­ple def­i­nite­ly felt that the clicks on the line were com­ing from the inside,” anoth­er added.

    The sources pre­sent­ed no proof that Ailes was actu­al­ly spy­ing on them, but even if their fears were unfound­ed, it may explain how Ailes kept a lid on the harass­ment alle­ga­tions for so long.

    “The sources pre­sent­ed no proof that Ailes was actu­al­ly spy­ing on them, but even if their fears were unfound­ed, it may explain how Ailes kept a lid on the harass­ment alle­ga­tions for so long.

    Yes, Roger Ailes’s employ­ees thought so lit­tle of him that they just assumed he was wire­tap­ping their phones. You have to won­der where they got that idea.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 10, 2016, 2:52 pm
  20. One of the big ques­tions fac­ing Fox News fol­low­ing Roger Ailes’s depar­ture (putting aside the big exis­ten­tial ques­tions asso­ci­at­ed with run­ning a mali­cious pro­pa­gan­da out­let) is who can pos­si­bly replace him with­out either piss­ing off the remain­ing Ailes’s allies or the grow­ing num­ber of Roger’s vic­tims still at the net­work. Well, Fox’s par­ent com­pa­ny appears to have found the right per­son for the job. Or rather, the right two peo­ple since Fox News is get­ting two co-pres­i­dents: Fox Tele­vi­sion Sta­tions CEO Jack Aber­nethy, some­one who does­n’t appear to have played any role in the enabling and coverup of Ailes’s behav­ior. At least his name has­n’t come up in reports. And then there’s Bill Shine, Roger Ailes’s sec­ond in com­mand who repeat­ed­ly come up in the report­ing as some­one who was well aware of Ailes’s ser­i­al pre­da­tions. It’s one hell of a com­pro­mise:

    Media Mat­ters

    Fox News Pro­motes Exec­u­tive Who Report­ed­ly “Played An Inte­gral Role” In Cov­er­ing Up Sex­u­al Harass­ments Claims

    8/12/2016
    ERIC HANANOKI

    Fox News announced today that the net­work is pro­mot­ing senior exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent Bill Shine to co-pres­i­dent of Fox News. Shine report­ed­ly “played an inte­gral role in the cov­er up” of sex­u­al harass­ment alle­ga­tions against for­mer chief Roger Ailes and has been described as Ailes’ “foot sol­dier” and “right-hand man.”

    For­mer Fox News anchor Gretchen Carl­son sued Ailes last month for sex­u­al harass­ment. Her law­suit spurred numer­ous oth­er women to come for­ward with sim­i­lar claims against Ailes, who sub­se­quent­ly left the com­pa­ny. Fox News announced “a new senior lead­er­ship team and man­age­ment struc­ture today, nam­ing Fox Tele­vi­sion Sta­tions CEO Jack Aber­nethy and Senior Exec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent Bill Shine to serve as Co-Pres­i­dents effec­tive imme­di­ate­ly.”

    ...

    New York mag­a­zine writer Gabriel Sher­man — the lead­ing source on the Ailes scan­dal — report­ed that Shine “played an inte­gral role in the cov­er up of these sex­u­al harass­ment claims.” He explained on CNN that Shine “pushed women into con­fi­den­tial medi­a­tion, sign­ing nondis­clo­sure agree­ments in exchange for their con­tracts to be paid.” Sher­man also report­ed he was told that Shine “played a role in ral­ly­ing the women to speak out against Roger Ailes’ accusers and lead this counter nar­ra­tive to try to say don’t believe Gretchen Carl­son, the alle­ga­tions. If that is indeed the case, that again is — the Mur­dochs will have to say this is a guy, these are man­agers who helped enable and try to pro­tect Roger Ailes, who presided over this cul­ture.”

    Sher­man report­ed that Shine played a key role in the silenc­ing and “smear­ing” of “Rudi Bakhtiar, who says she was fired from Fox News after com­plain­ing about sex­u­al harass­ment.” Sher­man report­ed that dur­ing nego­ti­a­tions, “Shine attempt­ed to por­tray Bakhtiar as a low-per­form­ing jour­nal­ist”:

    Dur­ing the nego­ti­a­tions, which took place at Asen’s law firm’s Wash­ing­ton office, Shine attempt­ed to por­tray Bakhtiar as a low-per­form­ing jour­nal­ist. But the medi­a­tor was not con­vinced. The tape Shine played “showed how good I was,” says Bakhtiar. “It was me doing live shots, one after anoth­er. Bill had to keep say­ing, ‘Well, let me for­ward a lit­tle.’ The medi­a­tor just looked at him and looked at me and says, ‘You’re very good.’” (Shine did not respond to a request for com­ment.)

    Sher­man also report­ed that Shine played a role in han­dling alle­ga­tions by Andrea Tan­ta­ros, who says she was “tak­en off the air after mak­ing sex­u­al-harass­ment claims against Roger Ailes.” Tan­ta­ros said through her lawyer “that both she and her agent told Fox exec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent Bill Shine, senior vice-pres­i­dent Suzanne Scott, and gen­er­al coun­sel Dianne Bran­di about episodes of Ailes’s alleged harass­ment.” When she report­ed­ly met with Shine to dis­cuss her claims, Shine alleged­ly told her, “‘Roger is a very pow­er­ful man,’ and that she ‘should not fight this.’ … After mak­ing more com­plaints to Shine and Scott over the course of the next year, Tan­ta­ros was sus­pend­ed from the net­work in April 2016.” Fox’s attor­neys denied Tan­ta­ros’ alle­ga­tions, and Shine told Politi­co through a spokesper­son, “Andrea nev­er made any com­plaints to me about Roger Ailes sex­u­al­ly harass­ing her.”

    Shine also report­ed­ly played a role in the han­dling of Lau­rie Luhn, a for­mer book­er who report­ed­ly received a $3.15 mil­lion set­tle­ment and was alleged­ly “sex­u­al­ly harassed and ‘psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly tor­tured’ by Roger Ailes for more than 20 years.”

    NPR media cor­re­spon­dent David Folken­flik tweet­ed ear­li­er this month, “Some with­in Fox News tell me programming/opinion EVP Bill Shine, an Ailes con­fi­dant, knew of mis­con­duct & ensu­ing com­plaints by women” and not­ed, “In @gabrielsherman’s epic & damn­ing piece on alle­ga­tions by for­mer book­er Lau­rie Luhn, Shine played key role.”

    Politi­co reporter Joe Pom­peo tweet­ed that in “FNC suc­ces­sion talks, one source told me, Roger/Rupert had always agreed on Bill Shine.”

    Sher­man tweet­ed of the Fox News announce­ment: “First thoughts on Fox News lead­er­ship announce­ment: this is Ailes’s exist­ing man­age­ment team.” CNN media reporter Bri­an Stel­ter wrote: “So the twin pro­mo­tions send a mes­sage from Mur­doch: that the cable news chan­nel does not need an infu­sion of new lead­er­ship at the top.”

    New York mag­a­zine writer Gabriel Sher­man — the lead­ing source on the Ailes scan­dal — report­ed that Shine “played an inte­gral role in the cov­er up of these sex­u­al harass­ment claims.” He explained on CNN that Shine “pushed women into con­fi­den­tial medi­a­tion, sign­ing nondis­clo­sure agree­ments in exchange for their con­tracts to be paid.” Sher­man also report­ed he was told that Shine “played a role in ral­ly­ing the women to speak out against Roger Ailes’ accusers and lead this counter nar­ra­tive to try to say don’t believe Gretchen Carl­son, the alle­ga­tions. If that is indeed the case, that again is — the Mur­dochs will have to say this is a guy, these are man­agers who helped enable and try to pro­tect Roger Ailes, who presided over this cul­ture.”

    Yes, Bill Shine first helped cov­er up the truth and lat­er arranged smear cam­paigns against those who were try­ing to do so. And now he’s Fox News’s co-pres­i­dent. Will this deci­sion impact Fox News’s rat­ings as view­ers learn that Rupert Mur­doch pro­mot­ed Ailes’s enabler? Prob­a­bly not but we’ll see.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 12, 2016, 1:25 pm
  21. Check out Roger Ailes’s new gig. It sounds like it most­ly focus­es on poi­son­ing the minds of large swathes of Amer­i­can soci­ety and basi­cal­ly try­ing to con­vince them to com­mit nation­al sui­cide, so Roger should be pre­fect for the job:

    The New York Times

    Roger Ailes Is Advis­ing Don­ald Trump Ahead of Pres­i­den­tial Debates

    By MAGGIE HABERMAN and ASHLEY PARKER
    AUG. 16, 2016

    Roger Ailes, the for­mer Fox News chair­man oust­ed last month over charges of sex­u­al harass­ment, is advis­ing Don­ald J. Trump in prepa­ra­tion for the all-impor­tant pres­i­den­tial debates this fall.

    Mr. Ailes is aid­ing the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee as Mr. Trump turns his atten­tion to the first debate with Hillary Clin­ton, his Demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­nent, Sept. 26 at Hof­s­tra Uni­ver­si­ty on Long Island, accord­ing to four peo­ple briefed on the move, who insist­ed on anonymi­ty because they were not autho­rized to dis­cuss the mat­ter.

    Two of them said Mr. Ailes’s role could extend beyond the debates, which Mr. Trump’s advis­ers see as cru­cial to vault­ing him back into strong con­tention for the pres­i­den­cy after self-inflict­ed wounds that have erod­ed his stand­ing in pub­lic opin­ion polls.

    For Mr. Ailes, being con­nect­ed with Mr. Trump’s cam­paign could be a form of redemp­tion after he was pushed out of the pow­er­ful net­work that he helped build. And for Mr. Trump, hav­ing Mr. Ailes tak­ing a hand in his prepa­ra­tions for the debates adds immea­sur­ably to the mes­sag­ing and media exper­tise in his cor­ner — and could raise alarms with­in Mrs. Clinton’s camp about just how aggres­sive Mr. Trump plans to be in those encoun­ters.

    Mr. Ailes’s inti­mate knowl­edge of how Fox News approach­es debates could also give Mr. Trump an impor­tant edge should one of the network’s jour­nal­ists be cho­sen to mod­er­ate one of the three events.

    It was not clear when Mr. Ailes began help­ing the cam­paign. He resigned his post at Fox News on July 21 amid an inves­ti­ga­tion into alle­ga­tions of sex­u­al harass­ment by for­mer female employ­ees that occurred after a law­suit by the for­mer anchor Gretchen Carl­son.

    It was also not imme­di­ate­ly known whether Mr. Ailes, who received $40 mil­lion in an exit agree­ment with Fox News, would be paid for work on the cam­paign, or how much time he would devote to it. Mr. Trump’s cam­paign chair­man, Paul Man­afort, is not being paid. Susan Estrich, a lawyer who is rep­re­sent­ing Mr. Ailes, did not respond to emails and phone mes­sages.

    Mr. Ailes met with Mr. Trump on Sun­day at the Trump Nation­al Golf Club in Bed­min­ster, N.J., and spoke about a range of mat­ters relat­ed to the pres­i­den­tial race, includ­ing cam­paign adver­tise­ments, accord­ing to a per­son briefed on the dis­cus­sion.

    In a tele­phone inter­view late Tues­day after­noon, Mr. Trump said Mr. Ailes was not for­mal­ly involved in his debate prepa­ra­tions, and chafed at the sug­ges­tion that he even need­ed to pre­pare for them. “I’ll speak with Roger, but this is not a for­mal thing,” Mr. Trump said. “I don’t have a debate coach. I’ve nev­er had a debate coach.” He insist­ed that Mr. Ailes had “no role.”

    Before he found­ed Fox News in 1996, Mr. Ailes spent years as a respect­ed polit­i­cal strate­gist with a pit bull style. He was a top advis­er to Richard M. Nixon’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in 1968, soft­en­ing the candidate’s hard-edge, unap­proach­able image.

    He was also a sought-after debate coach, work­ing with Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan in 1984 and ready­ing Vice Pres­i­dent George Bush for debates with Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Mass­a­chu­setts in 1988.

    Accord­ing to Gabriel Sherman’s 2014 book on Mr. Ailes, “The Loud­est Voice in the Room,” Mr. Ailes played a cru­cial role before Reagan’s sec­ond debate with Vice Pres­i­dent Wal­ter F. Mon­dale in 1984. Dur­ing a prep ses­sion, he asked Rea­gan, who had per­formed bad­ly in the first debate, how he would han­dle being asked about his age.

    The ques­tion came quick­ly, and Reagan’s answer, which went down in the annals of wit­ty debate lines, effec­tive­ly quashed the sub­ject: “I will not make age an issue of this cam­paign,” he said. “I am not going to exploit for polit­i­cal pur­pos­es my opponent’s youth and inex­pe­ri­ence.”

    In 1988, Mr. Ailes was enlist­ed for an image makeover of Mr. Bush, urg­ing the patri­cian Repub­li­can to mod­el him­self after the actor Gary Coop­er. In debate prep, Mr. Ailes launched rapid ques­tions at Mr. Bush to hone his reflex­es, and direct­ed the can­di­date to slow his sen­tences and deep­en his voice, accord­ing to Mr. Sherman’s book.

    Mr. Ailes also worked on low­er-lev­el polit­i­cal races, includ­ing the unsuc­cess­ful New York City may­oral cam­paign of Rudolph W. Giu­liani in 1989. Mr. Giu­liani has emerged as one of Mr. Trump’s most devot­ed sur­ro­gates in the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

    Mr. Ailes and Mr. Trump them­selves have a long rela­tion­ship, although it became fraught at points dur­ing the Repub­li­can pri­maries.

    Still, Mr. Ailes’s involve­ment is cer­tain to stoke con­tro­ver­sy, both for the ongo­ing sex­u­al harass­ment cas­es and for the role that Fox News played in cov­er­ing Mr. Trump’s can­di­da­cy — and ele­vat­ing him as a poten­tial pres­i­den­tial can­di­date begin­ning in 2011.

    One of Mr. Trump’s longest-lived and high­est-pro­file cam­paign con­tro­ver­sies was a dis­pute with the Fox News host Meg­yn Kel­ly, with whom he clashed angri­ly begin­ning with the first Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry debate a year ago. After­ward, Mr. Trump implied that she had been agi­tat­ed dur­ing the first Repub­li­can debate because she was men­stru­at­ing.

    ...

    Notably, when Mr. Ailes left the net­work in July, Mr. Man­afort, the Trump cam­paign chair­man, denied sug­ges­tions that Mr. Ailes would be advis­ing the cam­paign — but the can­di­date left the door open.

    by Chuck Todd of NBC News on July 24 whether Mr. Ailes was going to advise the cam­paign, Mr. Trump replied: “I don’t want to com­ment. But he’s been a friend of mine for a long time.” He called Mr. Ailes a “very, very good per­son” and said, “A lot of peo­ple are think­ing he’s going to run my cam­paign.”

    Mr. Ailes brings enor­mous expe­ri­ence in prepar­ing for pres­i­den­tial debates, but his addi­tion to Mr. Trump’s team also rais­es intrigu­ing ques­tions.

    Mr. Trump’s sup­port among female vot­ers has erod­ed dur­ing the course of his cam­paign, after a num­ber of incen­di­ary state­ments.

    Mr. Trump’s chal­lenge dur­ing the crowd­ed Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry debates was far less pro­nounced than it will be in what could be a head-to-head against Mrs. Clin­ton over 90 min­utes. He was one of 10 can­di­dates onstage and could often fil­i­buster his way through ques­tions or avoid them entire­ly as his rivals con­sumed air­time — an approach that would be unten­able in a one-on-one or even a three-way matchup includ­ing the Lib­er­tar­i­an can­di­date, Gary John­son.

    What is more, some of Mr. Trump’s worst moments in the pri­ma­ry debates involved Ms. Kel­ly and Car­ly Fio­r­i­na, the only woman in the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion con­test. Mr. Trump, who has repeat­ed­ly swat­ted away accu­sa­tions of sex­ism dur­ing the cam­paign, will prob­a­bly require coach­ing on how to han­dle the poten­tial first female pres­i­dent in a debate.

    Whether Mr. Ailes can best address that con­cern is unclear. He is deeply famil­iar with Repub­li­can lines of attack against Mrs. Clin­ton, and with the con­tro­ver­sies that have sur­round­ed her and her hus­band going back to their days in the White House. But even before the sex­u­al harass­ment alle­ga­tions against Mr. Ailes, there were ques­tions about whether he had ade­quate­ly defend­ed Ms. Kel­ly in her fight against Mr. Trump in 2015.

    “What is more, some of Mr. Trump’s worst moments in the pri­ma­ry debates involved Ms. Kel­ly and Car­ly Fio­r­i­na, the only woman in the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion con­test. Mr. Trump, who has repeat­ed­ly swat­ted away accu­sa­tions of sex­ism dur­ing the cam­paign, will prob­a­bly require coach­ing on how to han­dle the poten­tial first female pres­i­dent in a debate.”

    Yep, Trump clear­ly needs some­one to help him pre­pare to debate the first female pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. And Roger Ailes is that per­son. Roger’s work is clear­ly not done. And if he does a real­ly good job, his work might not be done for anoth­er four to eight years. Sor­ry ladies!

    So if Roger starts harass­ing and black­mail­ing the Trump cam­paign’s female cam­paign staff, will the Trump cam­paign be liable? Because it’s not like that sce­nario would be a sur­prise at this point, which should only add to the poten­tial lia­bil­i­ties, but Ailes appar­ent­ly isn’t being paid or con­sid­ered an employ­ee and is just con­sid­ered The Don­ald’s real­ly good friend. His real­ly good friend who might start hang­ing out with the cam­paign a lot more now that he has so much time on his hands. That might not be a cheap law­suit if Trump’s cam­paign is liable, but at least the cam­paign should have the mon­ey to cov­er it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 16, 2016, 6:09 pm
  22. If you’ve ever won­dered what some­thing like the Play­boy Man­sion would cost to pur­chase, we just learned that last week: $100 mil­lion for every­thing includ­ing all stat­ues, gar­goyles and arcade games at the man­sion. Nine fig­ures. That’s not cheap, but then again, it’s the ful­ly stocked Play­boy Man­sion.

    And in unfor­tu­nate­ly relat­ed news, if you’ve ever won­dered what it would cost a major cor­po­ra­tion in law­suits when its dis­cov­ered its been oper­at­ing like a non-con­sent­ing Play­boy Man­sion-like cor­po­rate sex­u­al harass­ment cult, we’re get­ting a bet­ter idea of the final price tag and it’s prob­a­bly going to be a lot of fig­ures:

    Talk­ing Points Memo Livewire

    Ex-Host Sues Fox, Says Net­work Oper­ates Like ‘Play­boy-Man­sion-Like Cult’

    By Alle­gra Kirk­land
    Pub­lished August 23, 2016, 6:47 AM EDT

    For­mer Fox News host Andrea Tan­ta­ros filed a law­suit Mon­day charg­ing that top net­work exec­u­tives retal­i­at­ed against her for report­ing sex­u­al harass­ment by oust­ed chair­man Roger Ailes.

    “Fox News mas­quer­ades as a defend­er of tra­di­tion­al fam­i­ly val­ues, but behind the scenes, it oper­ates like a sex-fueled, Play­boy Man­sion-like cult, steeped in intim­i­da­tion, inde­cen­cy and misog­y­ny,” the suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, reads.

    Tan­ta­ros claimed she was one of many women at the net­work who endured unwant­ed sex­u­al advances by Ailes, and said that efforts to report the harass­ment to Fox exec­u­tives result­ed in her being demot­ed and even­tu­al­ly tak­en off the air. Ear­li­er this month, the lawyer for the for­mer “Out­num­bered” co-host told told New York mag­a­zine that she had informed Fox exec­u­tive pres­i­dent Bill Shine, senior vice pres­i­dent Suzanne Scott, and gen­er­al coun­sel Dianne Bran­di about the alleged harass­ment and made numer­ous for­mal reports about it.

    “Ailes did not act alone,” the law­suit reads. “He may have been the pri­ma­ry cul­prit, but his actions were con­doned by his most senior lieu­tenants, who engaged in a con­cert­ed effort to silence Tan­ta­ros by threats, humil­i­a­tion and retal­i­a­tion.”

    A spokesman for Shine, who replaced Ailes after he was oust­ed in late July amid mul­ti­ple sex­u­al harass­ment claims, told the New York Times that Tan­ta­ros nev­er brought the harass­ment alle­ga­tions to him. Ailes has denied all of the harass­ment alle­ga­tions.

    The fall­out at the net­work began in ear­ly July when for­mer Fox News host Gretchen Carl­son filed a law­suit alleg­ing that she was fired from the net­work for rebuff­ing Ailes’ advances. A num­ber of oth­er past Ailes asso­ciates and employ­ees have since come for­ward with sto­ries of harass­ment.

    In her suit, Tan­ta­ros said that Ailes called her into his office in August 2014 and asked her to turn around “so I can get a good look at you.” She refused, and soon after was moved from a co-host posi­tion on “The Five” to the low­er-rat­ed mid­day show “Out­num­bered.” Oth­er office meet­ings in Decem­ber 2014 and Feb­ru­ary 2015 end­ed in sim­i­lar­ly uncom­fort­able exchanges, in which Ailes alleged­ly talked about how she would look in a biki­ni and spoke about her roman­tic life.

    The suit claims that Tan­ta­ros told Shine about the meet­ings in April 2015 and that she was told to “let this one go.” She also alleges that she was sub­ject to unwel­come advances from Fox host Bill O’Reilly.

    ...

    Accord­ing to the Times, Tan­ta­ros’ lawyer, Judd Burstein, said that Fox News offered to buy Tan­ta­ros out for a sum “in the sev­en fig­ures” if she renounced her claims against Ailes, O’Reilly and oth­er Fox employ­ees.

    “Accord­ing to the Times, Tan­ta­ros’ lawyer, Judd Burstein, said that Fox News offered to buy Tan­ta­ros out for a sum “in the sev­en fig­ures” if she renounced her claims against Ailes, O’Reilly and oth­er Fox employ­ees.”

    Bill O’Reil­ly too? Does this mark the return of the infa­mous loofah? Let’s hope not. But if O’Reil­ly was an active, and pro­tect­ed, mem­ber of Fox New’s Play­boy Man­sion-like cult, that could (and should) add quite a bit to the final set­tle­ment. And with Andrea Tan­ta­ros alleged­ly being offered a sev­en fig­ure hush mon­ey set­tle­ment, you have to won­der how many oth­er sev­en fig­ure set­tle­ments of that nature have already qui­et­ly been offered. A sex-fueled, Play­boy Man­sion-like cult, steeped in intim­i­da­tion, inde­cen­cy and misog­y­ny pre­sum­ably has quite a few large hush mon­ey offers that it has to make once its Play­boy Man­sion-like cult sta­tus is no longer a secret.

    And after all those Ailes’ vic­tims learn that the audio tape of Roger Ailes harass­ing Gretchen Carl­son could lead to an eight fig­ure set­tle­ment, how many are even going to want to qui­et­ly set­tle? How much eas­i­er will it be to get a large set­tle­ment for every­one else if doc­u­ment­ed evi­dence of Ailes’s harass­ing behav­ior suc­ceeds in get­ting Carl­son eight fig­ures? Sev­en fig­ures here, eight fig­ures there, and before you know it Fox News could be look­ing at a whop­ping Play­boy Man­sion-league nine fig­ures in all. Who knows if it will get that high but with over 20 women already accus­ing Ailes it’s not incon­ceiv­able. Espe­cial­ly since Ailes’s inner cir­cle of exec­u­tives were alleged­ly in on it too:

    ...

    Tan­ta­ros claimed she was one of many women at the net­work who endured unwant­ed sex­u­al advances by Ailes, and said that efforts to report the harass­ment to Fox exec­u­tives result­ed in her being demot­ed and even­tu­al­ly tak­en off the air. Ear­li­er this month, the lawyer for the for­mer “Out­num­bered” co-host told told New York mag­a­zine that she had informed Fox exec­u­tive pres­i­dent Bill Shine, senior vice pres­i­dent Suzanne Scott, and gen­er­al coun­sel Dianne Bran­di about the alleged harass­ment and made numer­ous for­mal reports about it.

    “Ailes did not act alone,” the law­suit reads. “He may have been the pri­ma­ry cul­prit, but his actions were con­doned by his most senior lieu­tenants, who engaged in a con­cert­ed effort to silence Tan­ta­ros by threats, humil­i­a­tion and retal­i­a­tion.”

    ...

    Don’t for­get that Bill Shine is the new co-CEO.

    It’s all a hor­ri­ble reminder if that if you’re going to run your busi­ness like a Play­boy Man­sion-like cult, it’s real­ly only like­ly work out in the long run if your name is Hugh Hefn­er and your job is to live in the Play­boy Man­sion. Oth­er­wise, you prob­a­bly don’t want to run your busi­ness like a Play­boy Man­sion sex­u­al harass­ment cult.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 23, 2016, 1:55 pm
  23. There was a big update on the night­mare sex­u­al harass­ment cul­ture at Fox News: Fox News set­tled with Gretchen Carl­son for $20 mil­lion and a pub­lic apol­o­gy. So that was quite a devel­op­ment and admis­sion about Roger Ailes’s ser­i­al behav­ior con­sid­er­ing that Gretchen is just one of over 20 women who have come for­ward to inves­ti­ga­tors or jour­nal­ists to reveal Ailes’s pre­da­tions.

    In relat­ed news, Roger Ailes appears to be lawyer­ing up for a big law­suit against Gabriel Sher­man and New York Mag­a­zine, the jour­nal­ist and mag­a­zine that helped make this sto­ry so big by inves­ti­gat­ing and find­ing over 20 oth­er women who have been Ailes’s vic­tims over the decades. What exact­ly Ailes is going to sue for should be inter­est­ing to find out giv­en that Fox News just issued a mas­sive set­tle­ment that would appear to be a val­i­da­tion of the report­ing. But we’ll find out even­tu­al­ly since, as the arti­cle below puts it, Act II of the Ailes saga may have just begun. Let’s hope there’s a lot less sex­u­al harass­ment in this act:

    Van­i­ty Fair

    Fox Set­tles with Gretchen Carl­son for $20 Million—and Offers an Unprece­dent­ed Apol­o­gy
    Act II of the Ailes saga may have just begun.

    by Sarah Elli­son

    Sep­tem­ber 6, 2016 8:48 am

    It has been exact­ly two months since Gretchen Carl­son, a for­mer Fox News anchor, sued her old boss, Roger Ailes, for sex­u­al harass­ment. The suit inau­gu­rat­ed a fre­net­ic series of events, not only with­in Fox News’s sub­ter­ranean newsroom—where staffers feared for their jobs and, in one case, even the network’s future—but also through­out the media, as oth­er women came for­ward to share their own sto­ries of harass­ment. It all result­ed in Ailes’s dra­mat­ic, and near­ly mind-bog­gling, ouster from the news net­work that he co-found­ed 20 years ago. (Ailes has repeat­ed­ly, and fer­vent­ly, denied all alle­ga­tions of sex­u­al harass­ment.)

    On Fri­day, Ailes biog­ra­ph­er and New York writer Gabriel Sher­man, who has bro­ken key ele­ments of the sto­ry, pub­lished a lengthy cov­er arti­cle detail­ing Ailes’s down­fall. As I have report­ed, Ailes’s own appar­ent para­noia increased around the time that Sher­man began report­ing his unau­tho­rized biog­ra­phy, which was pub­lished in ear­ly 2014. Accord­ing to a per­son close to Ailes, he hung a wood­en door, now dis­man­tled, that obscured any view into his office suite; accord­ing to numer­ous peo­ple, he also record­ed any­one who entered. Ailes kept guns in the office (a Glock and Smith & Wes­son were dis­cov­ered by 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox after his ouster). Carl­son and oth­ers, includ­ing for­mer Fox News book­er Lau­rie Luhn, also detailed Ailes’s alleged harass­ment, much of it out­lined by Sher­man in his cov­er­age.

    In the ear­ly days of the Ailes saga, many applaud­ed how 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox was han­dling the cri­sis. Rather than defend­ing Ailes, C.E.O. James Mur­doch and Exec­u­tive Chair­man Lach­lan Mur­doch her­ald­ed a new era at the media empire by inves­ti­gat­ing him. Their swift deci­sion to launch an inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into the alle­ga­tions, han­dled by the top-flight law firm Paul, Weiss, sig­naled that the younger Mur­dochs were pre­pared to adopt a dif­fer­ent tack than their laissez–faire father, Rupert Mur­doch, who is famous­ly loy­al to his deputies and whose rela­tion­ship with Ailes went back decades. In doing so, they seemed deter­mined to leave the seami­est aspects of Fox News’s cul­ture behind for good.

    But there was always a ten­sion between clean­ing things up and pre­serv­ing Fox News, which makes $1 bil­lion in annu­al prof­it. The Mur­dochs appear intent on putting the Ailes saga behind them as they move into the last stretch­es of an elec­tion and an attempt to cor­ral cru­cial anchors, such as Meg­yn Kel­ly, to re-sign with the net­work. Now the com­pa­ny has agreed, on behalf of Ailes, to set­tle Carlson’s suit for a stun­ning $20 mil­lion, accord­ing to three peo­ple famil­iar with the set­tle­ment. To rein­force their seri­ous­ness about cre­at­ing a new cul­ture in a post-Ailes world, the com­pa­ny offered Carl­son a pub­lic apol­o­gy as part of the set­tle­ment. “We sin­cere­ly regret and apol­o­gize for the fact that Gretchen was not treat­ed with the respect and dig­ni­ty that she and all of our col­leagues deserve,” the state­ment not­ed. (The com­pa­ny, accord­ing to two peo­ple famil­iar with the dis­cus­sions, has also reached set­tle­ment agree­ments with two oth­er women.)

    Though Carlson’s case is against Ailes per­son­al­ly, Fox is essen­tial­ly his insur­er for any set­tle­ment, accord­ing to two peo­ple famil­iar with the arrange­ment, and dis­cus­sions between Ailes’s legal team and 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox’s legal team became very tense regard­ing how much Ailes might pay in a set­tle­ment. (At press time, it was unclear how much Ailes was per­son­al­ly on the hook for.) As part of the lan­guage at the end of the set­tle­ment, numer­ous peo­ple with knowl­edge of the deal told me, Carl­son has agreed not to bring any fur­ther legal action against oth­er exec­u­tives at Fox News, or against the com­pa­ny itself.

    The set­tle­ment punc­tu­ates an impor­tant chap­ter in the Ailes scan­dal. While the Paul, Weiss inves­ti­ga­tion inter­viewed more than 20 women, accord­ing to two sources famil­iar with the process, it nev­er offi­cial­ly expand­ed to exam­ine the broad­er cul­ture of Fox News. The firm, accord­ing to numer­ous peo­ple famil­iar with the process, was appar­ent­ly nev­er ordered to scour the company’s hard dri­ves for all evi­dence of sex­u­al harass­ment or bawdy cul­ture. In some ways, accord­ing to one per­son famil­iar with the process, the Paul, Weiss inves­ti­ga­tion sim­ply got a rev­enue machine back on track.

    The set­tle­ment pro­vides a rel­a­tive­ly swift clo­sure to an ugly chap­ter in the com­pa­ny’s history—one that, iron­i­cal­ly, gave the Mur­doch broth­ers their first major lead­er­ship test. But as much as the Mur­dochs may wish to put this episode behind them, Ailes, who was fair­ly silent dur­ing the Carl­son suit, may just be get­ting start­ed.

    On Fri­day, as the F.T. first report­ed, Ailes’s new­ly retained libel lawyer, Charles Hard­er, sent “demand” let­ters to both Sher­man and New York mag­a­zine ask­ing them to retain all doc­u­men­ta­tion relat­ed to Sherman’s report­ing. (A spokesper­son for New York con­firmed receipt of the let­ter.) Hard­er recent­ly rep­re­sent­ed Ter­ry Bol­lea, a.k.a Hulk Hogan, in his suc­cess­ful $140 mil­lion law­suit against Gawk­er Media. Hard­er also recent­ly rep­re­sent­ed Mela­nia Trump.

    Ailes has a his­to­ry of threat­en­ing lit­i­ga­tion. On Sun­day, Ailes’s attor­ney rep­re­sent­ing him in the Carl­son suit, Susan Estrich, of Quinn Emanuel, issued the fol­low­ing state­ment in response to my ques­tion about Harder’s let­ter to New York and Sher­man: “Quinn Emanuel’s role remains unchanged,” with respect to Mr. Ailes, adding that “Mr Hard­er is advis­ing Mr. and Mrs. Ailes on pos­si­ble defama­tion actions against NY Mag­a­zine and Mr. Sher­man.” Hard­er, for his part, did not respond to a request for com­ment. (A 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox spokesper­son told me that the com­pa­ny has no involve­ment in Ailes’s reten­tion of Hard­er.)

    ...

    “Though Carlson’s case is against Ailes per­son­al­ly, Fox is essen­tial­ly his insur­er for any set­tle­ment, accord­ing to two peo­ple famil­iar with the arrange­ment, and dis­cus­sions between Ailes’s legal team and 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox’s legal team became very tense regard­ing how much Ailes might pay in a set­tle­ment. (At press time, it was unclear how much Ailes was per­son­al­ly on the hook for.) As part of the lan­guage at the end of the set­tle­ment, numer­ous peo­ple with knowl­edge of the deal told me, Carl­son has agreed not to bring any fur­ther legal action against oth­er exec­u­tives at Fox News, or against the com­pa­ny itself.

    Con­sid­er­ing the size of the set­tle­ment and the fact that it pre­cludes law­suits against oth­er exec­u­tives at Fox News, you have to won­der just how many exec­u­tives might end up leav­ing once the legal dust set­tles on this. Will we see one of Ailes’s co-replace­ments leav­ing too? It’s hard to rule out.

    You also have to won­der how much of Fox’s on-air tal­ent stays with the net­work. And how much more is it going to cost to hire tal­ent to work for a news net­work now known for being touchy-feely in all the wrong ways. It’s an espe­cial­ly inter­est­ing ques­tion after it was report­ed that Gre­ta Van Sus­teren was just fired from the net­work after try­ing to use the tur­moil of Ailes’s depar­ture to get such a big raise that the net­work let her go imme­di­ate­ly instead:

    CNN­Money

    Why Gre­ta Van Sus­teren is leav­ing Fox News so sud­den­ly

    by Bri­an Stel­ter and Dylan Byers
    Sep­tem­ber 6, 2016: 7:04 PM ET

    A sharp knock on the door sig­naled that Gre­ta Van Sus­teren’s time on Fox News Chan­nel was over.

    A couri­er arrived at Van Sus­teren’s Wash­ing­ton, D.C. home at 9 a.m. Tues­day, hand-deliv­er­ing two let­ters that said that Van Sus­teren “was being tak­en off the air” imme­di­ate­ly, accord­ing to her hus­band, John Coale, who is a high-pro­file Wash­ing­ton lawyer.

    Van Sus­teren was already plan­ning to leave, but she thought she would be host­ing her 7 p.m. pro­gram “On the Record” for a few more weeks.

    Yank­ing her off the air with­out a chance to say good­bye was “a bit imma­ture,” Coale remarked.

    It was also a mes­sage from Rupert Mur­doch.

    Van Sus­teren has been one of the top anchors at Fox News for the past 14 years.

    Mur­doch, the patri­arch of Fox’s par­ent com­pa­ny 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox, dis­liked her recent attempt to rene­go­ti­ate her con­tract, and the unusu­al couri­er vis­it was a result of that, said one of the sources inter­viewed for this sto­ry.

    The messy breakup is the lat­est sign of ten­sion — “chaos,” accord­ing to Coale — behind the scenes at Fox News.

    Coale said Tues­day after­noon that there’s “pos­si­ble lit­i­ga­tion in the future” between Van Sus­teren and Fox. He declined to elab­o­rate.

    Fox News declined to com­ment on Coale’s remarks.

    The net­work announced her depar­ture less than an hour after the couri­er arrived. Van Sus­teren was not quot­ed in the press release.

    Fox then delet­ed the “On the Record” web site, Van Sus­teren’s biog­ra­phy, and her pio­neer­ing Gretawire blog — essen­tial­ly eras­ing her from FoxNews.com.

    So Van Sus­teren took to Face­book to explain her exit.

    Fox “has not felt like home to me for a few years and I took advan­tage of the clause in my con­tract which allows me to leave now,” she wrote.

    That clause is known as a “key man clause.” It was trig­gered by Fox News chief Roger Ailes’ res­ig­na­tion in late July amid a sex­u­al harass­ment scan­dal. Once Ailes left, Van Sus­teren had a chance to leave too.

    The sources said Van Sus­teren sought to rene­go­ti­ate the terms of her con­tract — and asked for a big bump in pay — after Ailes resigned.

    Fox exec­u­tives refused to nego­ti­ate, one of the sources said.

    There was a “finan­cial dis­agree­ment,” anoth­er one of the sources said.

    Van Sus­teren was moti­vat­ed to leave in part because she had been unhap­py and uncom­fort­able with the way Ailes ran the net­work the past few years, and with the way the net­work was per­ceived, two of the sources said.

    Even while vocal­ly defend­ing Fox in pub­lic, she had con­cerns in pri­vate.

    “It did­n’t appear it was get­ting bet­ter” after Ailes left, one of the sources said, so she looked to the exit.

    Van Sus­teren had a 60-day peri­od of time to invoke the escape clause after Ailes resigned. With time run­ning out, Van Sus­teren sent a let­ter to Fox last Thurs­day night, inform­ing the net­work of her deci­sion.

    The goal, Coale said, was to arrange a grace­ful exit. He said Van Sus­teren expect­ed to con­tin­ue host­ing for weeks “to help them sort things out and have a smooth tran­si­tion.”

    Indeed, tele­vi­sion hosts nor­mal­ly have some time on the air after it is known that they’re leav­ing. But not this time.

    Brit Hume, the for­mer 6 p.m. host who now serves as a Fox polit­i­cal ana­lyst, is tak­ing over Van Sus­teren’s 7 p.m. time slot until elec­tion day.

    Van Sus­teren said on Face­book that she hopes “to con­tin­ue my career in broad­cast­ing.” A for­mer crim­i­nal defense and civ­il tri­al lawyer, she joined Fox News from CNN in 2002 and has host­ed “On The Record” ever since.

    She can­not leap to a new net­work right away, how­ev­er, due to the terms of her Fox con­tract. It is unclear how long the wait­ing peri­od is sup­posed to last.

    Fox News announced Van Sus­teren’s depar­ture just a few min­utes after the chan­nel’s par­ent com­pa­ny, con­firmed a $20 mil­lion set­tle­ment deal with Gretchen Carl­son, the anchor­woman who sued Ailes in July, start­ing the chain of events that led to his ouster.

    ...

    “Mur­doch, the patri­arch of Fox’s par­ent com­pa­ny 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox, dis­liked her recent attempt to rene­go­ti­ate her con­tract, and the unusu­al couri­er vis­it was a result of that, said one of the sources inter­viewed for this sto­ry.”

    That’s right: in response to one of Fox News’s high­est rat­ed females anchors, some­one who always defend­ed Ailes as this scan­dal unfold­ed, ask­ing for a raise in light of the mas­sive embar­rass­ment Fox News’s man­age­ment has brought upon the net­work, Rupert Mur­doch appar­ent­ly decides to sum­mar­i­ly fire her before she could even say good­bye to her audi­ence. What a sub­tle mes­sage to the rest of the Fox News staff.

    Giv­en the sig­nal Rupert Mur­doch just sent by casu­al­ly ditch­ing one of their more loy­al anchors, we prob­a­bly should­n’t be super shocked to learn about more Fox News depar­tures over the next few months. And if Don­ald Trump los­es the elec­tion and goes on to start an Ailes-run “Trump TV”, as so many are spec­u­lat­ing could hap­pen, who knows many many Fox News employ­ees could become for­mer Fox News employ­ees over the next year or so. We real­ly could be look­ing at a major shake­up in the US polit­i­cal media land­scape.

    And as tempt­ing as it is to fan­ta­size about Fox News suf­fer­ing a major rat­ings dive after a string of high-pro­file depar­tures, it’s worth keep­ing in mind that if Trump starts Trump TV and we real­ly do see a big shake­up at Fox News, there’s one very ter­ri­fy­ing and destruc­tive aspect to that whole phe­nom­e­na that could make the destruc­tion of Fox News even more dam­ag­ing the net­work itself: Giv­en the real­i­ty that Fox News sim­ply has a much, much large audi­ence than any of its cable news com­peti­tors, if Fox News starts hem­or­rhag­ing view­ers that’s a mas­sive poten­tial prize for all the oth­er net­works but a prize they’ll only win by behav­ing more like Fox News. *shud­der*

    Hope­ful­ly that won’t hap­pen, and maybe a Fox decline will pri­mar­i­ly be sopped up by its exist­ing far-right com­peti­tors like Glenn Beck­’s BlazeTV with­out trig­ger­ing some sort of hor­rif­ic “Fox Friend­ly” copy-cat phase by the rest of the net­works. But just imag­ine this tran­si­tion at Fox News does­n’t go over very smooth­ly, there’s more big name tal­ent lost, AND the big flashy “Trump TV” does­n’t get up and run­ning fast enough to grab­bing all those now waver­ing Fox News view­ers. All those poor Fox News view­ers with no media “home”, no one to scare them and rein­force the lies. Those peo­ple would have to go some­where and there’s a lot of them. Isn’t that a giant recipe to dumb down the US media land­scape even more?

    Could the death of Fox News actu­al­ly be the most dam­ag­ing phase of the net­work’s exis­tence? Hope­ful­ly that’s just a worst case sce­nario but it’s a pos­si­bil­i­ty we can’t rule out. It’s all a reminder that if you encounter across a dan­ger­ous alien that latch­es onto peo­ple’s heads and implants hor­ri­bly destruc­tive par­a­sites in them that threat­en to destroy the world, you should indeed try to free peo­ple from the alien’s head-grip but beware when it bleeds.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 6, 2016, 6:18 pm
  24. Well, anoth­er woman has come for­ward charg­ing Roger Ailes with sex­u­al­ly harass­ing her dur­ing a job inter­view and sab­o­tag­ing her job when she refused his advances. And in what is either a coin­ci­dence of tim­ing or an infor­mal cor­po­rate response to this lat­est alle­ga­tion, 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox final­ly hired an out­sider to lead its human resources depart­ment the next day:

    The Los Ange­les Times

    Fox News hires a new human resources chief in response to sex­u­al harass­ment claims

    By Stephen Battaglio
    Decem­ber 14, 2016, 3:45 PM

    Still grap­pling with sex­u­al harass­ment alle­ga­tions, Fox News announced Wednes­day that it has hired a new human resources chief from out­side the com­pa­ny.

    Kevin Lord, for­mer­ly of the TV sta­tion group Teg­na and NBC News, will be the new exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of human resources and will report direct­ly to Fox News co-Pres­i­dents Jack Aber­nethy and Bill Shine.

    Denise Collins, who had been the top human resources exec­u­tive at Fox News, will now report to Lord.

    ...

    Ailes has denied all alle­ga­tions of sex­u­al harass­ment dur­ing his Fox News tenure. The mat­ter first sur­faced when Carl­son filed a suit against Ailes in July, say­ing her career was hurt by not sub­mit­ting to his sex­u­al advances. An inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tion revealed a pat­tern of sim­i­lar behav­ior, as more than 20 employ­ees, includ­ing Fox News Channel’s biggest female star, Meg­yn Kel­ly, came for­ward to describe inap­pro­pri­ate actions by Ailes.

    21st Cen­tu­ry Fox paid Carl­son $20 mil­lion to set­tle the law­suit. Ailes was paid $40 mil­lion when he exit­ed the com­pa­ny.

    But since Ailes depart­ed, two more suits have been filed, the most recent from a part-time reporter at a Fox TV sta­tion in New York.

    Lidia Curanaj, 38, alleges in a suit filed Tues­day in U.S. Dis­trict Court in New York that she was not hired by Fox News because she refused to sub­mit to sex­u­al advances made by Ailes when he inter­viewed her in 2011. She also con­tends that her career at Fox-owned TV sta­tion WNYW was harmed because of sex­u­al dis­crim­i­na­tion. Fox has said the claims have no mer­it.

    Fox News host Andrea Tan­ta­ros alleged in a suit filed in August that she was removed from her on-air role in retal­i­a­tion for mak­ing a sex­u­al harass­ment com­plaint against Ailes and that Fox News exec­u­tives cov­ered up his actions. Fox News has said she was sus­pend­ed for not giv­ing the com­pa­ny an oppor­tu­ni­ty to review her book before pro­mot­ing it on the air.

    “Kevin Lord, for­mer­ly of the TV sta­tion group Teg­na and NBC News, will be the new exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of human resources and will report direct­ly to Fox News co-Pres­i­dents Jack Aber­nethy and Bill Shine.

    So Fox News’s replaces Denise Collins, who has been with Fox News since 2000, with a new out­sider to head up the HR depart­ment in what is intend­ed to sig­nal a change in the com­pa­ny’s Play­boy Man­sion-like cult style of cor­po­rate lead­er­ship. And who is this new out­sider going to be direct­ly report­ing to? Oh, that’s right, Bill Shine, Ailes’s for­mer deputy and now co-Pres­i­dent who has also been iden­ti­fied as some­one who played an inte­gral role in facil­i­tat­ing Ailes’s pre­da­tions and helped cov­er it up by arrang­ing for smear cam­paigns against Ailes’s accusers.

    What a pow­er­ful sig­nal. Fox News has clear­ly learned its les­son.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 14, 2016, 7:26 pm
  25. With the fir­ing of Bill O’Reil­ly from Fox News fol­low­ing the lat­est string of sex­u­al harass­ment alle­ga­tions lead­ing to anoth­er shake­up of Fox New’s line­up, here’s a reminder that if you were hop­ing Fox News was going to take this as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to reshape and mod­er­ate its hard right pol­i­tics and no longer be a source of mael­e­va­lent mis­in­for­ma­tion designed to rad­i­cal­ize its view­er­ship, the Alt-Right has high hopes for Fox News too and their hopes are actu­al­ly becom­ing real­i­ty:

    Media­Mat­ters

    Why Neo-Nazis Are Kvel­ling Over Tuck­er Carl­son

    MATT GERTZ
    April 27, 2017 10:27 AM EDT

    Tuck­er Carlson’s takeover of Fox News’ 8 p.m. time slot has been greet­ed with cheers by his fans in the neo-Nazi, white nation­al­ist, and misog­y­nis­tic cor­ners of the Inter­net.

    As the news began to break last week that Bill O’Reilly would not be return­ing to Fox, “alt-right” fig­ures began express­ing their hope that Carl­son, who has gar­nered a large audi­ence at the net­work since his show launched late last year, would get the cov­et­ed hour.

    “Tuck­er Carl­son tak­ing O’Reil­ly’s time slot would be huge win for Amer­i­ca,” tweet­ed Mike Cer­novich, an online per­son­al­i­ty with a his­to­ry of mak­ing white nation­al­ist and misog­y­nis­tic com­men­tary who helped push the “piz­za­gate” con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry.

    Jaz­zhands McFeels, the pseu­do­ny­mous co-host of the pop­u­lar “alt-right” pod­cast Fash the Nation for the anti-Semit­ic web­site The Right Stuff, sim­i­lar­ly claimed that Fox had the “oppor­tu­ni­ty for an all-star line­up” led by Carl­son.

    The dregs of the so-called “alt-right” cham­pi­oned Carlson’s pro­mo­tion because they think he is active­ly work­ing to main­stream their despi­ca­ble beliefs.

    Like many Fox hosts, includ­ing the one he replaced, Carl­son has a long record of offer­ing vir­u­lent com­men­tary about women and peo­ple of col­or, and he has served as a cheer­leader for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, anoth­er white nation­al­ist favorite. But it is the Fox host’s inter­view style — in par­tic­u­lar the way he demol­ish­es per­ceived ene­mies of the “alt-right” on air for his audience’s amuse­ment — that has turned his show into must-see view­ing for mem­bers of the misog­y­nis­tic and racist move­ment.

    “The key to his suc­cess is that he destroys peo­ple every­one hates,” writes Eric Strik­er on the neo-Nazi web­site The Dai­ly Stormer, which recent­ly cel­e­brat­ed the 128th anniver­sary of Adolf Hitler’s birth and has a sec­tion devot­ed to the “Jew­ish Prob­lem.” “He mocks and berates an assem­bly line of Jew­ish liars, lit­er­al­ly laugh­ing at the absur­di­ty of their canned talk­ing points about every­thing from immi­gra­tion to Rus­sia to tran­nies,” Strik­er con­tin­ued.

    In the post, which was devot­ed to con­grat­u­lat­ing the Fox host for his debut rat­ings in the 8 p.m. time slot and his forth­com­ing book, Strik­er claims that if there’s “any talk­ing head you can safe­ly clas­si­fy in the spec­trum of ‘alt-right,’ it’s Tuck­er Carl­son.” He con­cludes that Carl­son is “America’s voice and we need to draft him for Pres­i­dent.”

    Oth­er Dai­ly Stormer head­lines about Carlson’s show over the past week include “Tuck­er Carl­son SUFFOCATES and SODOMIZES Ille­gal Spic Gold­man Sachs Employ­ee,” “Tuck­er Carl­son BARBARICALLY MUTILATES Fat Black Woman Demand­ing Free Col­lege for Black Slaves,” and “Tuck­er Carl­son GASSES Jew Mark Cuban with a DIESEL MOTOR Sal­vaged from a SOVIET SUBMARINE.”

    Sev­er­al white nation­al­ist and neo-Nazi fig­ures were par­tic­u­lar­ly pleased that Carl­son would replace O’Reilly, whom they view as a “cuck­ser­v­a­tive” whose time had passed.

    The neo-Nazi web­site InfoS­tormer, whose mis­sion is “Destroy­ing Jew­ish Tyran­ny,” wrote of Carlson’s pro­mo­tion: “Dumb move by these fem­i­nists. They pushed out Bill O’Reilly only to see Tuck­er Carl­son installed in his place. Carl­son is a one man gas cham­ber who gasses Jews and fem­i­nists on a night­ly basis. He is lit­er­al­ly and fig­u­ra­tive­ly Hitler.” The web­site also com­ment­ed that it was good that Carl­son would replace O’Reilly because he is “a much bet­ter pun­dit than O’Reilly and has been reg­u­lar­ly lamp­shad­ing Jews on nation­al tele­vi­sion.”

    The anti-Semit­ic writer Kevin Mac­Don­ald, whom the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter calls “the neo-Nazi move­men­t’s favorite aca­d­e­m­ic,” says that Carl­son is “far edgi­er & less cuck­ser­v­a­tive” than O’Reilly, adding, “Tuck­er is red-pilled but man­ages to stay main­stream.”

    And accord­ing to Richard Spencer, the white nation­al­ist who coined the term “alt-right,” Carl­son “is a much bet­ter fig­ure” who is “more intel­li­gent” than O’Reilly and “is at least sym­pa­thet­ic towards the alt side of things” in a way his pre­de­ces­sor is not.

    ...

    “Jaz­zhands McFeels, the pseu­do­ny­mous co-host of the pop­u­lar “alt-right” pod­cast Fash the Nation for the anti-Semit­ic web­site The Right Stuff, sim­i­lar­ly claimed that Fox had the “oppor­tu­ni­ty for an all-star line­up” led by Carl­son.”

    Yes, it’s quite an oppor­tu­ni­ty at Fox News. An oppor­tu­ni­ty for neo-Nazis.

    Will Carl­son live up to those ‘Alt-Right’ hopes? Well, as any­one who has read Tuck­er Carl­son’s The Dai­ly Caller should rec­og­nize, yes, he will live up to their hopes because that’s what he’s been doing for years.

    And in hor­ri­bly relat­ed news, the ‘Alt-Right’ neo-Nazis have anoth­er rea­son to show some Fox News love: 13 employ­ees are suing the net­work for racial dis­crim­i­na­tion:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Livewird

    13 Fox Employ­ees, Includ­ing Anchor, Now Suing Net­work For Racial Dis­crim­i­na­tion

    By Alle­gra Kirk­land
    Pub­lished April 26, 2017 4:07 pm

    Thir­teen cur­rent or for­mer Fox News employ­ees of col­or, includ­ing a cur­rent anchor, have joined two racial dis­crim­i­na­tion law­suits against the net­work, CNN report­ed Wednes­day. Those dozen-plus plain­tiffs are just the begin­ning, their lawyer pre­dict­ed.

    This law­suit will con­tin­ue to grow, I sus­pect,” attor­ney Dou­glas Wig­dor said at a press con­fer­ence, accord­ing to CNN, not­ing that he has received calls from addi­tion­al on-air Fox employ­ees since he filed an amend­ed ver­sion of the com­plaint Tues­day.

    In a state­ment, Wig­dor accused the net­work of “sys­temic race dis­crim­i­na­tion” and expressed hope that the lit­i­ga­tion would prompt the net­work to take swift action.

    “When it comes to racial dis­crim­i­na­tion, 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox has been oper­at­ing as if it should be called 18th Cen­tu­ry Fox,” the state­ment read.

    Kel­ly Wright (pic­tured), a black reporter and anchor who has spent 14 years at the net­work, is now lead plain­tiff on the class action suit, which was filed last month in state Supreme Court in the Bronx on behalf of two for­mer pay­ment depart­ment employ­ees.

    Wright alleged in the com­plaint that he was “effec­tive­ly side­lined and asked to per­form the role of a ‘Jim Crow’—the racist car­i­ca­ture of a Black enter­tain­er,” accord­ing to CNN.

    An award-win­ning jour­nal­ist who serves as co-anchor of America’s News Head­quar­ters, a Sat­ur­day pro­gram, Wright con­tend­ed he’s been kept off of the network’s mar­quee pro­grams, like “The O’Reilly Fac­tor.”

    He alleged his effort to do a series of sto­ries about black com­mu­ni­ties in Amer­i­ca was reject­ed by the show because “it showed Blacks in ‘too pos­i­tive’ a light,” accord­ing to the com­plaint obtained by CNN.

    Wright joins a com­plaint first brought by Tichoana Brown and Tabrese Wright, who alleged that Fox’s recent­ly fired comp­trol­ler, Judith Slater sub­ject­ed them to “top-down racial harass­ment.” This involved Slater demand­ing that black employ­ees arm-wres­tle white col­leagues, mock­ing how black employ­ees pro­nounced words like “ask” and “moth­er” and sug­gest­ing black men were “women beat­ers.” Fox News, its par­ent com­pa­ny, 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox, Slater, and Fox’s gen­er­al coun­sel Dianne Bran­di are named as defen­dants, accord­ing to the New York Times.

    Anoth­er for­mer employ­ee, Adasa Blan­co, filed a relat­ed, sep­a­rate com­plaint on Tues­day against Fox News, Slater and Bran­di, alleg­ing that top exec­u­tives at the net­work ignored employ­ees’ repeat­ed com­plaints about racial dis­crim­i­na­tion, CNN report­ed.

    ...

    Slater was fired in Feb­ru­ary after the net­work learned about the alle­ga­tions. Her attor­ney Cather­ine Foti told CNN in a state­ment that the racial dis­crim­i­na­tion com­plaints “are com­plete­ly false.”

    The belea­guered con­ser­v­a­tive news net­work cur­rent­ly faces two addi­tion­al law­suits from for­mer on-cam­era employ­ees accus­ing the net­work and its senior exec­u­tives of sex­u­al harass­ment and ille­gal sur­veil­lance, respec­tive­ly.

    ““When it comes to racial dis­crim­i­na­tion, 21st Cen­tu­ry Fox has been oper­at­ing as if it should be called 18th Cen­tu­ry Fox,” the state­ment read.”

    18th Cen­tu­ry Fox. It has an appro­pri­ate ring to it. Although giv­en the suc­cess­es of the glob­al far-right in their long quest to kill social progress, it’s hard to say that “21st Cen­tu­ry Fox” isn’t apt too. Sad­ly.

    So we’ll see who they end up replac­ing Kel­ly Wright with in his anchor slot, but note which pro­gram he alleges he was side­lined from and why: Bill O’Reil­ly’s show...because Wright might show Blacks in ‘too pos­i­tive’ a light:

    ...
    Kel­ly Wright (pic­tured), a black reporter and anchor who has spent 14 years at the net­work, is now lead plain­tiff on the class action suit, which was filed last month in state Supreme Court in the Bronx on behalf of two for­mer pay­ment depart­ment employ­ees.

    Wright alleged in the com­plaint that he was “effec­tive­ly side­lined and asked to per­form the role of a ‘Jim Crow’—the racist car­i­ca­ture of a Black enter­tain­er,” accord­ing to CNN.

    An award-win­ning jour­nal­ist who serves as co-anchor of America’s News Head­quar­ters, a Sat­ur­day pro­gram, Wright con­tend­ed he’s been kept off of the network’s mar­quee pro­grams, like “The O’Reilly Fac­tor.”

    He alleged his effort to do a series of sto­ries about black com­mu­ni­ties in Amer­i­ca was reject­ed by the show because “it showed Blacks in ‘too pos­i­tive’ a light,” accord­ing to the com­plaint obtained by CNN.
    ...

    And that’s a good sum­ma­ry of the kind of changes we’re see­ing at Fox: They fired a misog­y­nist who refused to show Blacks in too pos­i­tive a light and replaced him with an Alt-Right dream host. What a big change.

    And in oth­er hor­ri­bly relat­ed news...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 28, 2017, 2:29 pm
  26. Remem­ber when CBS’s CEO noto­ri­ous­ly said of Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign, “it may not be good for Amer­i­ca, but it’s damn good for CBS”. If true, just imag­ine how good a Trump pres­i­den­cy would be a lib­er­al-brand­ed cable news net­work like MSNBC. Well, it turns out that Trump’s pres­i­den­cy is actu­al­ly cre­at­ing a rather sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem for MSNBC. Or, rather, a prob­lem for Andy Lack, the NBC News exec­u­tive who over­sees MSNBC. It’s a pret­ty big prob­lem: BIG rat­ings. Too big, in fact. Way too big.

    How can a TV sta­tion get rat­ings that are too big? Well, if the guy run­ning it wants an excuse to turn the sta­tion into a right-wing Fox News clone, those record high anti-Trump rat­ings could become a prob­lem:

    The Huff­in­g­ton Post

    With Trump In The White House, MSNBC Is Resist­ing The Resis­tance
    For a TV exec­u­tive, Andy Lack has an unusu­al prob­lem: sky-high rat­ings.

    By Ryan Grim
    05/01/2017 04:51 pm ET | Updat­ed

    WASHINGTON — On Fri­day, read­ers of the new morn­ing email put out by Mike Allen awoke to a lit­tle nugget of news. “One of your favorites is get­ting their own MSNBC show,” he teased in the sub­ject line.

    That new host was none oth­er than Nicolle Wal­lace, a for­mer spokes­woman for Pres­i­dent George W. Bush and, lat­er, the 2008 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign of John McCain and Sarah Palin.

    New York mag­a­zine report­ed hours lat­er that con­ser­v­a­tive activist and radio host Hugh Hewitt, already a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to MSNBC, was in talks with the net­work about a week­end show.

    From out­side, it might seem odd to see the pre­mier lib­er­al net­work veer­ing right, even as lib­er­als around the coun­try are fired up to resist the admin­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

    But from inside, the news about Wal­lace and Hewitt was seen as just two more steps toward the full exe­cu­tion of the vision of Andy Lack, the NBC News exec­u­tive who over­sees MSNBC. He has made quite clear his plan to move the cable news net­work away from its bedrock lib­er­al­ism and toward a more cen­trist approach per­son­i­fied by Bri­an Williams — even includ­ing hosts of a con­ser­v­a­tive bent, as typ­i­fied by hosts like Meg­yn Kel­ly or Gre­ta Van Sus­teren, who Lack brought over from Fox News.

    But Lack, in seek­ing to make this vision a real­i­ty, has an unusu­al prob­lem for a TV exec­u­tive: sky-high rat­ings. Since the elec­tion of Trump, MSNBC’s lib­er­al prime­time pro­grams host­ed by Chris Hayes, Rachel Mad­dow and Lawrence O’Donnell have surged not just in rat­ings but in the share of the cable news audi­ence they’re cap­tur­ing. In its earn­ings call on Thurs­day, NBCU­ni­ver­sal specif­i­cal­ly cit­ed the boost in rat­ings to “The Rachel Mad­dow Show” for a spike in prof­its. Mad­dow has been the top show on cable news in the key demo­graph­ic for two months run­ning, an incon­ceiv­able achieve­ment at MSNBC.

    Toss­ing those prime­time hosts over­board while they’re rak­ing in view­er­ship and rev­enue has so far proved an elu­sive task.

    “Hayes, Mad­dow, O’Donnell — the entire prime­time line­up is doing record num­bers and Lack can’t stand it. It makes him furi­ous,” said one senior MSNBC source, echo­ing the sen­ti­ment of many oth­er insid­ers who spoke to Huff­Post only on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty. (An NBC spokesman said Lack is hap­py with the high rat­ings.)

    The gap between the suc­cess of the prime­time line­up and the invest­ment of lead­er­ship in that very suc­cess has start­ed to become pub­lic. O’Donnell, for instance, has the network’s sec­ond-most watched show, but it gets lit­tle in the way of pro­mo­tion, a point he made him­self on Twit­ter last week.

    Best pro­mo ever writ­ten for my show. (No one else is writ­ing them so there’s real­ly no com­pe­ti­tion but this is a great one.) https://t.co/0H8RGXUS9Z— Lawrence O’Don­nell (@Lawrence) April 28, 2017

    O’Donnell’s con­tract will soon be up for renew­al. Keep­ing the sec­ond-best per­form­ing show is typ­i­cal­ly not in ques­tion at most net­works — but at MSNBC, it will test whether Lack gives into, or con­tin­ues to resist, the ener­gy of the resis­tance.

    Lack has tar­get­ed the network’s pro­gres­sive pro­gram­ming since arriv­ing at the net­work in spring 2015. He start­ed with the day­time shows: Shows from Alex Wag­n­er, Joy Reid and Ronan Far­row, as well as “The Cycle,” were can­celed and replaced by straight news. (At the end of 2015, my own con­tract with MSNBC, which ran for three years, was not renewed; I had no inter­ac­tion with Lack.) Lack brought in Chuck Todd to host a 5 p.m. show. He can­celed Al Sharpton’s 6 p.m. show, and ran one from Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin and John Heile­mann in its place.

    The Halperin-Heile­mann pro­gram, which has since been can­celed, was a hard-to-watch rat­ings dis­as­ter. Lack moved Van Sus­teren, for­mer­ly of Fox News, into the slot. That show has also been a rat­ings wreck. Across the board, shows that Lack has put his stamp on and moved to the cen­ter or to the right have not per­formed as well as the ones he has left alone, despite MSNBC’s abil­i­ty to get the media-indus­try press to write flat­ter­ing sto­ries about the network’s “day­side turn­around.”

    “Every hour that Andy has not touched are the strongest hours on the net­work. Every­thing he has touched is low­er rat­ed,” said one well-placed insid­er.

    Van Sus­teren, for instance, looks like a pot­hole in rat­ings road. Typ­i­cal­ly, start­ing around noon and going until about 9 p.m., each cable news hour is more wide­ly viewed than the one before. But Van Sus­teren actu­al­ly los­es audi­ence from the hour before. Last Fri­day, for instance, Todd con­trolled a 21 per­cent share of the cable news audi­ence at 5 p.m. Van Sus­teren fell to 17 per­cent at 6 p.m., los­ing more than 30,000 view­ers. They come back at 7 p.m. for Chris Matthews, who pulled in a 26 per­cent share. Hayes kept 27 per­cent of the share and Mad­dow had 39 per­cent. The num­ber dipped to 27 per­cent for O’Donnell at 10 p.m. (I have appeared fre­quent­ly on all four shows, although pre­sum­ably that will end fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of this sto­ry.)

    The day­time side, which is the test­ing ground for Lack’s the­o­ry that straight news is a stronger path for­ward, scores well below the pro­gres­sive pro­gram­ming. In last Friday’s rat­ings, it pulled in a share of between 15 per­cent and 16 per­cent. The total num­bers are low­er as well, but using share is a fair­er com­par­i­son, because it accounts for the dif­fer­ence in over­all audi­ence size.

    In an inter­view in Decem­ber 2015, Lack was blunt about the direc­tion he want­ed to take MSNBC. He “explained why he has been toil­ing to re-brand MSNBC as a reli­able provider of break­ing news in con­trast to its pre­vi­ous incar­na­tion, per­son­i­fied by for­mer anchor Kei­th Olber­mann and oth­er per­son­al­i­ties such as Ronan Far­row, Joy Reid, and the Rev. Al Sharp­ton, as an out­let dom­i­nat­ed by left-lean­ing hosts and pitched to like-mind­ed view­ers,” The Dai­ly Beast report­ed.

    The goal, Lack said, was to get seri­ous.

    “Had we not made this turn to break­ing news with seri­ous­ness of pur­pose, in these times and in this elec­tion, we would have been clob­bered,” Lack said. “As rea­son­able as that [dis­card­ed lib­er­al] pro­gram­ming was for when it was cre­at­ed, we’re in a long game now. … This is maybe the most inter­est­ing elec­tion of my life­time. … The world has nev­er been more dan­ger­ous in my life­time.” The brack­et­ing of “dis­card­ed lib­er­al” appears in the orig­i­nal inter­view, in which Lack lays out his plan to move more toward Williams and away from Maddow’s pol­i­tics.

    Lack’s plan helps explain the awk­ward cov­er­age fol­low­ing debates and on elec­tion night, which often put Mad­dow and Williams on screen next to each oth­er. It was not a por­trait of a net­work bring­ing for­ward a diver­si­ty of per­spec­tives. Lack appeared ready to move in one direc­tion, but couldn’t quite get his foot out of the oth­er canoe.

    Hayes, Mad­dow and O’Donnell have stub­born­ly insist­ed on soar­ing in rat­ings since the elec­tion. In the first quar­ter of 2015, “The Rachel Mad­dow Show” was ranked 26th among all cable news shows. It was the sev­enth most-watched show in the first quar­ter of 2017. “The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell” and “All In With Chris Hayes” were 37th and 38th, respec­tive­ly. “Last Word” is now No. 11, and Hayes’ show is com­ing in at No. 17. That’s real growth, because it con­sid­ers where they were pre­vi­ous­ly, and accounts for the rise in audi­ence across the board that came with the elec­tion and the Trump pres­i­den­cy.

    Matthews, who airs at 7 p.m., has also seen a bit of a jump. Two years ago his show was ranked 30th, ahead of both Hayes and O’Donnell, and he’s now up to 19th, behind both. While he is cer­tain­ly a shade or two left of cen­ter, his show is more Belt­way-friend­ly fare. In his defense, he is work­ing from a deficit, as he fol­lows Van Sus­teren and Todd, who come in at 30th and 28th, respec­tive­ly.

    The day­time pro­gram­ming has shown some gains under Lack’s lead­er­ship, even rel­a­tive to oth­er net­works. But Lack may have mis­di­ag­nosed the prob­lem that sapped MSNBC’s momen­tum in the lat­er years of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s admin­is­tra­tion. After the tea par­ty wave in 2010, the Oba­ma leg­isla­tive agen­da was stopped cold, leav­ing lit­tle for an audi­ence to root for. But with Oba­ma in the White House, there was also lit­tle to root against, which makes for ter­ri­bly bor­ing view­ing. House lead­ers like John Boehn­er and Paul Ryan weren’t vil­lain­ous on a Trumpian lev­el, and Repub­li­cans didn’t cap­ture the Sen­ate until the 2014 midterms. Divid­ed gov­ern­ment with Democ­rats in the White House made for dull pol­i­tics, and MSNBC’s pro­gram­ming paid the price across the board.

    “The Ed Show With Ed Schultz” at 5 p.m. was ranked 59th in the first quar­ter of 2015 in the key demo­graph­ic, peo­ple between the ages of 25 and 54. Sharpton’s “Pol­i­tics Nation” clocked in at No. 49. The noon show host­ed by Wag­n­er checked in at No. 66, with mid-after­noon shows by Reid and Far­row at Nos. 82 and 85.

    Van Sus­teren is doing bet­ter today — ranked 30th — than Sharp­ton did. But with bumps across the board — see the rise for Matthews — it’s impos­si­ble to say whether a more resis­tance-themed Sharp­ton show would be doing bet­ter than that. Todd’s show, mean­while, has a bet­ter per­for­mance, with a rank of 28, than Schultz’s did But, again, where would a rage-filled Schultz be rank­ing with all the rage direct­ed at Trump instead of Oba­ma, an audi­ence favorite? (It’s impos­si­ble to say: He’s now at RT.)

    Lack, accord­ing to a per­son close to him, was indeed con­cerned about prime­time rat­ings in 2015 and 2016, as any exec­u­tive would have been, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. hours. But he has become enthu­si­as­tic about the line­up as the view­ers came back. Still, he believes that peo­ple want hard news and analy­sis dur­ing the day.

    The strat­e­gy, while it might make sense at noon, falls apart the clos­er it gets to prime­time. It helps explain Van Susteren’s col­lapse at 6 p.m., and may swamp Wal­lace even as far back as 4 p.m. (A net­work spokesman said exec­u­tives know new cable shows take a while to catch on with view­ers, and are will­ing to be patient with Van Sus­teren.)

    Lack’s changes, insid­ers say, are moti­vat­ed in large part by a desire to engi­neer the full res­ur­rec­tion of Williams. Decid­ing what to do with Williams, who had been exposed as a ser­i­al liar, was Lack’s first major deci­sion when he returned to NBC in 2015. The plan he came up with — to move the for­mer star anchor to MSNBC day­side and break­ing news — set in motion the chain reac­tion that has led to today.

    Lack’s deci­sions have gone a long way to change the look of the net­work, tak­ing it from the height of diver­si­ty to what it is now. In 2014, Huff­Post ana­lyzed a two-week stretch of pro­gram­ming , Fox News and CNN to quan­ti­fy the lev­el of on-air minor­i­ty tal­ent, specif­i­cal­ly look­ing at African-Amer­i­can tal­ent. MSNBC was far above the com­pe­ti­tion, with 46 seg­ments in that peri­od that fea­tured an African-Amer­i­can host talk­ing exclu­sive­ly to African-Amer­i­can guests.

    That’s gone. Under Lack, MSNBC has lost black and brown tal­ent, includ­ing Wag­n­er, Melis­sa Har­ris Per­ry, Touré, Dori­an War­ren, Michael Eric Dyson, Adam Howard, Jamil Smith, Jose Diaz-Balart (who now hosts a Sat­ur­day night show on NBC) and Tam­ron Hall. Oth­er peo­ple who have been shown the door under Lack include Abby Hunts­man, Ed Schultz and Far­row. In their place have arrived folks like Van Sus­teren, Heile­mann and Halperin, Wal­lace, Hewitt, Stephanie Ruh­le, Hal­lie Jack­son, Katy Tur and Kate Snow.

    Both Reid and Sharp­ton have been shunt­ed to the week­ends, although Reid appears fre­quent­ly in prime­time and as a sub­sti­tute host. She hosts “AM Joy” from 10 a.m. to noon on Sat­ur­days and Sun­days.

    A Feb­ru­ary MSNBC press release boast­ing about rat­ings gains put “Morn­ing Joe” on the top, not­ing it it had 849,000 total view­ers. Scroll all the way to the bot­tom of the release, though, and you’ll find a data point that doesn’t do much to sup­port Lack’s vision of the enter­prise: More peo­ple are watch­ing “AM Joy” than the network’s most cel­e­brat­ed morn­ing pro­gram. On Sat­ur­days, 981,000 peo­ple watched the pro­gram, and 810,000 tuned in on Sun­days. That trend con­tin­ues in oth­er months, accord­ing to Nielsen data. “AM Joy” had 87,000 more total view­ers than “Morn­ing Joe” in April, and the week­day show slight­ly edged her out in the key demo. (Com­par­ing a week­day morn­ing show and Reid’s week­end show is apples-to-oranges, an NBC spokesman says.)

    Van Sus­teren may have beat­en Reid by get­ting the cov­et­ed 6 p.m. slot, but Reid is still man­ag­ing to gen­er­al­ly beat her in view­er­ship. Van Susteren’s “For the Record with Gre­ta” aver­aged 902,000 view­ers.

    Chang­ing dynam­ics at the net­work became clear to the pub­lic when Per­ry made an inter­nal cri­tique ear­ly last year. “I will not be used as a tool for their pur­pos­es,” she wrote in an email that was lat­er made pub­lic. “I am not a token, mam­my, or lit­tle brown bob­ble head. I am not owned by Lack, [Phil] Grif­fin, or MSNBC. I love our show. I want it back.”

    “While MSNBC may believe that I am worth­less, I know bet­ter,” added Per­ry, who is now a pro­fes­sor at Wake For­est Uni­ver­si­ty.

    “That was the sign to me that things had real­ly gone down the tube,” said one for­mer MSNBC employ­ee. “A lot of us who had kept hold­ing out hope kind of gave up.”

    ...

    The per­cep­tion that Lack has evis­cer­at­ed non­white tal­ent at MSNBC has affect­ed the way some of his inter­ac­tions with black staff at MSNBC are viewed. This past spring, Lack report­ed­ly asked a black senior pro­duc­er if she could con­nect him with the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. “It was like Trump ask­ing April Ryan to hook him up with the [Con­gres­sion­al Black Cau­cus],” said one employ­ee. (We’re with­hold­ing the name of the pro­duc­er; a spokesman not­ed that Lack also asked Chris Hayes for Coates’ con­tact info.)

    Dur­ing a call with book­ers, Lack said to stop ask­ing peo­ple he didn’t rec­og­nize to be guests. And late last sum­mer, in front of count­less staff, he told the MSNBC crew that he had walked to the office with his son, and his son sug­gest­ed to him that he need­ed a star to show up for inter­nal events. “I don’t have Drake. I don’t have Miley Cyrus. But I do have Yvette Miley,” he said.

    It was a corny riff, typ­i­cal of Lack, who is what Michael Scott of “The Office” would have become had he stud­ied at the Sor­bonne. Lack, after he arrived, had put Miley in charge of diver­si­ty hir­ing at MSNBC and NBC. “She was named head of diver­si­ty and he con­tin­ued fir­ing black tal­ent,” said one Miley friend.

    A dif­fer­ent exec­u­tive with a dif­fer­ent record may have been for­giv­en for all three episodes, but much of this has hap­pened with Lack before..

    One of Lack’s first major moves when he became pres­i­dent of NBC in 1993 was to replace “Today” show host Bryant Gum­bel with Matt Lauer, sources said. Gum­bel is black, and Lauer is white.

    “Andy pushed Bryant Gum­bel out,” said a source famil­iar with how the shake-up went down. Lack didn’t fire Gum­bel, but “he made him an offer he couldn’t accept,” the source said, a time-test­ed way of nudg­ing tal­ent out the door in the tele­vi­sion indus­try. (Gum­bel and Lack have since become good friends, the source added. And Lack replaced Williams with Lester Holt, the first black host of a Big Three news broad­cast.)

    Lack over­saw the launch of MSNBC in 1996, which was orig­i­nal­ly con­ceived as a 24/7 exten­sion of NBC News, in com­bi­na­tion with some­thing or oth­er from Microsoft. The new chan­nel stum­bled along for sev­er­al years with­out an iden­ti­ty. Then, in 2003, Lack left NBC to become chair­man and CEO of Sony Music Enter­tain­ment.

    Short­ly there­after, MSNBC began drift­ing left. It was a sim­i­lar envi­ron­ment to today, with lib­er­al pas­sion against the war in Iraq and its chief advo­cate, George W. Bush, peak­ing. Kei­th Olber­mann tapped into the anger to become the network’s first real star. Phil Grif­fin, Olbermann’s exec­u­tive pro­duc­er, even­tu­al­ly rose to run all of MSNBC, and it is the shows put in place by Grif­fin that are per­form­ing the best today.

    Olber­mann used his show to cre­ate new stars, bring­ing on the pre­vi­ous­ly obscure Mad­dow as a fre­quent guest. When Mad­dow got her own time slot, she did the same by invit­ing Hayes, Steve Kor­nac­ki and oth­ers who became fix­tures on the net­work to be guests.

    “This used to be the most amaz­ing place to work, where I felt like my boss­es, my col­leagues, cared about me and cared about the world we live in,” said one employ­ee who remains, for the time being, on staff. “Now I feel like I’m in a stereo­typ­i­cal news net­work, like some­thing out of [the 1976 movie] ‘Net­work,’ yet we’re in the year 2017. We’ve come so far from what this place once was. It was a won­der­ful place to be, and now it’s just not.”

    Wal­lace is replac­ing Kor­nac­ki, the Mad­dow pro­tege. (”Steve Kor­nac­ki is a ris­ing star of polit­i­cal cov­er­age on both MSNBC and NBC news and his port­fo­lio is going to con­tin­ue to expand,” an NBC exec said. “Phil Grif­fin con­sid­ers Kor­nac­ki to have been a break­out star of the 2016 cycle.”)

    It must all look famil­iar to Tam­ron Hall. A long­time MSNBC host, she joined “Today” in Feb­ru­ary 2014, before Lack arrived. Sources said Lauer felt threat­ened by her rise; in any event, she suf­fered the same fate as Gum­bel in Feb­ru­ary of this year. The net­work expressed sor­row at her depar­ture in a writ­ten state­ment, but she did not make an on-air sign-off, a sig­nal of the bit­ter­ness behind the move.

    Hall, a wide­ly liked and tal­ent­ed anchor, had also been host­ing an over­per­form­ing day­time MSNBC show. All morn­ing shows have sagged in recent months, and NBC’s is no excep­tion. But accord­ing to Nielsen rat­ings data, the show is down sig­nif­i­cant­ly since Hall left.

    And who is Lack’s ide­al host to replace her?

    Meg­yn Kel­ly.

    ““Hayes, Mad­dow, O’Donnell — the entire prime­time line­up is doing record num­bers and Lack can’t stand it. It makes him furi­ous,” said one senior MSNBC source, echo­ing the sen­ti­ment of many oth­er insid­ers who spoke to Huff­Post only on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty. (An NBC spokesman said Lack is hap­py with the high rat­ings.)”

    Yes, the stars aligned for a lib­er­al-lean­ing news net­work like MSNBC and the net­works right-wing CEO is furi­ous. Furi­ous that had does­n’t have an excuse to do what he’s doing any­way:

    ...
    New York mag­a­zine report­ed hours lat­er that con­ser­v­a­tive activist and radio host Hugh Hewitt, already a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to MSNBC, was in talks with the net­work about a week­end show.

    From out­side, it might seem odd to see the pre­mier lib­er­al net­work veer­ing right, even as lib­er­als around the coun­try are fired up to resist the admin­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

    But from inside, the news about Wal­lace and Hewitt was seen as just two more steps toward the full exe­cu­tion of the vision of Andy Lack, the NBC News exec­u­tive who over­sees MSNBC. He has made quite clear his plan to move the cable news net­work away from its bedrock lib­er­al­ism and toward a more cen­trist approach per­son­i­fied by Bri­an Williams — even includ­ing hosts of a con­ser­v­a­tive bent, as typ­i­fied by hosts like Meg­yn Kel­ly or Gre­ta Van Sus­teren, who Lack brought over from Fox News.

    But Lack, in seek­ing to make this vision a real­i­ty, has an unusu­al prob­lem for a TV exec­u­tive: sky-high rat­ings. Since the elec­tion of Trump, MSNBC’s lib­er­al prime­time pro­grams host­ed by Chris Hayes, Rachel Mad­dow and Lawrence O’Donnell have surged not just in rat­ings but in the share of the cable news audi­ence they’re cap­tur­ing. In its earn­ings call on Thurs­day, NBCU­ni­ver­sal specif­i­cal­ly cit­ed the boost in rat­ings to “The Rachel Mad­dow Show” for a spike in prof­its. Mad­dow has been the top show on cable news in the key demo­graph­ic for two months run­ning, an incon­ceiv­able achieve­ment at MSNBC.

    ...

    Lack has tar­get­ed the network’s pro­gres­sive pro­gram­ming since arriv­ing at the net­work in spring 2015. He start­ed with the day­time shows: Shows from Alex Wag­n­er, Joy Reid and Ronan Far­row, as well as “The Cycle,” were can­celed and replaced by straight news. (At the end of 2015, my own con­tract with MSNBC, which ran for three years, was not renewed; I had no inter­ac­tion with Lack.) Lack brought in Chuck Todd to host a 5 p.m. show. He can­celed Al Sharpton’s 6 p.m. show, and ran one from Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin and John Heile­mann in its place.

    The Halperin-Heile­mann pro­gram, which has since been can­celed, was a hard-to-watch rat­ings dis­as­ter. Lack moved Van Sus­teren, for­mer­ly of Fox News, into the slot. That show has also been a rat­ings wreck. Across the board, shows that Lack has put his stamp on and moved to the cen­ter or to the right have not per­formed as well as the ones he has left alone, despite MSNBC’s abil­i­ty to get the media-indus­try press to write flat­ter­ing sto­ries about the network’s “day­side turn­around.”

    “Every hour that Andy has not touched are the strongest hours on the net­work. Every­thing he has touched is low­er rat­ed,” said one well-placed insid­er.
    ...

    Lack isn’t lack­ing a vision. He’s just lack­ing a excuse to do now that all his lib­er­al hosts are expe­ri­enc­ing record high rat­ings. And he’s pissed. And note how his vision appears to be the same vision he had for the chan­nel when launch it back in 1996: a blah net­work with­out an iden­ti­ty:

    ...
    Lack over­saw the launch of MSNBC in 1996, which was orig­i­nal­ly con­ceived as a 24/7 exten­sion of NBC News, in com­bi­na­tion with some­thing or oth­er from Microsoft. The new chan­nel stum­bled along for sev­er­al years with­out an iden­ti­ty. Then, in 2003, Lack left NBC to become chair­man and CEO of Sony Music Enter­tain­ment.

    Short­ly there­after, MSNBC began drift­ing left. It was a sim­i­lar envi­ron­ment to today, with lib­er­al pas­sion against the war in Iraq and its chief advo­cate, George W. Bush, peak­ing. Kei­th Olber­mann tapped into the anger to become the network’s first real star. Phil Grif­fin, Olbermann’s exec­u­tive pro­duc­er, even­tu­al­ly rose to run all of MSNBC, and it is the shows put in place by Grif­fin that are per­form­ing the best today.
    ...

    That was his bold vision back then and undo­ing all the lib­er­al brand­ing that took place after he left in 2003 and return­ing to that iden­ti­ty-lack­ing vision is clear­ly his mis­sion today. And the only thing stand­ing his way right now is record high rat­ings. Record high rat­ings for just the lib­er­als. And giv­en that the Trump era is just get­ting under­way there’s sim­ply no legit­i­mate busi­ness excuse for pro­ceed­ing ahead with the de-lib­er­al­iz­ing of the net­work. At least no busi­ness excuse for MSNBC’s own­er, Comcast/NBC Uni­ver­sal. This bumper crop of rat­ings could go on for years.

    But, of course, there’s a mas­sive indi­rect incen­tive for the oli­garchs that own Comcast/NBC Uni­ver­sal to ditch the lib­er­al-brand regard­less of high rat­ings. Silenc­ing left-wing voic­es and keep­ing Amer­i­cans in the thrall of pro-cor­po­rate far-right ideas and memes pays for itself. Through a real­ly, real­ly mis­in­formed, gullible elec­torate. And once Com­cast, which is run by peo­ple close­ly con­nect­ed to the Repub­li­can par­ty, bought out NBC Uni­ver­sal it was pret­ty clear that it was just a mat­ter of time before that media giant decid­ed to ‘invest’ in cre­at­ing an extra mis­in­formed, gullible Amer­i­can elec­torate by slow­ly elim­i­nat­ing MSNBC’s lib­er­al lean­ing. Don’t for­get that Com­cast made one of senior exec­u­tives, Steve Burke, CEO of NBC Uni­ver­sal when it took over. And Burke was one of George W. Bush’s major fundrais­ers, he’s the son of Daniel Burke (who ran Bill Casey’s Cap­i­tal Cities), and it was Burke who brought back Lack to run MSNBC in 2015 in the wake of the Bri­an Williams scan­dal.

    Again, it’s been pret­ty clear for a while that Com­cast wants to Fox-ify MSNBC. But now the rat­ings for the lib­er­als spiked which means they can do this tran­si­tion plau­si­bly. And that makes the prospect of some sort of MSNBC lib­er­al boy­cott a lot more like­ly if they pro­ceed with Andy Lack­’s vision. Not that a for­mal boy­cott will be nec­es­sary since peo­ple will just stop watch­ing the net­work due to the crap­py right-wing hosts. But it’s still pos­si­ble there’s going to be some sort of boy­cott to protest this. So don’t for­get, if there is even­tu­al­ly an MSNBC boy­cott move­ment over this that won’t real­ly make much sense since Com­cast is clear­ly views an MSNBC nobody watch­es more prefer­able than a lib­er­al MSNBC lots of peo­ple watch so an MSNBC boy­cott won’t real­ly mat­ter. It should actu­al­ly be a Com­cast boy­cott.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 2, 2017, 4:00 pm
  27. Check out the like­ly next White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor: for­mer Fox News co-pres­i­dent Bill Shine!

    Recall how Shine was belat­ed forced out of Fox News last year after all of the rev­e­la­tions about him enabling Roger Ailes’s preda­to­ry sex­u­al harass­ment and pro­tect­ing a cor­po­rate cul­ture at Fox News that was described as a Play­boy Man­sion-like cult. It was a belat­ed depar­ture because Fox News actu­al­ly pro­mot­ed Shine to co-Pres­i­dent in late 2016 fol­low­ing Ailes’s depar­ture despite the rev­e­la­tions of the role Shine played on those abus­es. But Shine was even­tu­al­ly forced out of Fox News. And look where he is now (soon):

    The New York Times

    Bill Shine Like­ly as Next White House Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Direc­tor

    By Mag­gie Haber­man and Michael D. Shear
    June 27, 2018

    WASHINGTON — Bill Shine, a for­mer Fox News exec­u­tive who was close to Roger E. Ailes, the network’s oust­ed chair­man, is expect­ed to be offered the job of White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor, accord­ing to two peo­ple famil­iar with the deci­sion.

    Mr. Shine, who was forced out as co-pres­i­dent at Fox last May for his han­dling of sex­u­al harass­ment scan­dals at the net­work, has met with Pres­i­dent Trump in recent weeks about tak­ing the West Wing com­mu­ni­ca­tions job, which has been vacant since Hope Hicks left the job in March.

    ...

    Offi­cials at the White House are aware that they will face blow­back for appoint­ing some­one so close­ly tied to Mr. Ailes and the cul­ture of harass­ment toward women at Fox News. But they said Wednes­day that they believe they can weath­er it.

    Mr. Shine also knows Kellyanne Con­way, the White House coun­selor, who is said to have advo­cat­ed for him inside the White House. Ms. Con­way, who is focused on the opi­oids cri­sis and who fre­quent­ly trav­els, declined the job, accord­ing to two peo­ple close to the White House.

    Mer­cedes Schlapp, a com­mu­ni­ca­tions advis­er to the White House, was seen ini­tial­ly as a favorite for the job, in part because of her good rela­tion­ship with the chief of staff, John F. Kel­ly, but Mr. Trump did not offer it to her.

    ———-

    “Bill Shine Like­ly as Next White House Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Direc­tor” by Mag­gie Haber­man and Michael D. Shear; The New York Times; 06/27/2018

    “Mr. Shine, who was forced out as co-pres­i­dent at Fox last May for his han­dling of sex­u­al harass­ment scan­dals at the net­work, has met with Pres­i­dent Trump in recent weeks about tak­ing the West Wing com­mu­ni­ca­tions job, which has been vacant since Hope Hicks left the job in March.”

    It sure sounds like Shine is going to get the job. So is the White House wor­ried about hir­ing some as scan­dalous as Shine? Well, yes, they are con­cerned. But also con­fi­dent that they don’t need to be too con­cerned because they can weath­er the inevitable blow­back:

    ...
    Offi­cials at the White House are aware that they will face blow­back for appoint­ing some­one so close­ly tied to Mr. Ailes and the cul­ture of harass­ment toward women at Fox News. But they said Wednes­day that they believe they can weath­er it.
    ...

    So that’s the per­son who will like­ly be craft­ing the White House­’s mes­sag­ing: the guy who was Roger Ailes’s sex­u­al harass­ment enforcer. It’s quite a meta-mes­sage to the world.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 27, 2018, 12:07 pm

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