Since news broke of sexual harassment allegations against former CEO Roger Ailes last summer, Fox News has faced a constant PR nightmare. Three top employees, including Ailes, have left the network, and the allegations against the company’s culture now include racial discrimination as well as sexual misconduct. This extended scandal gets more complicated each day, so we created a timeline of the Fox News allegations to help keep it all straight.
Since it’s confusing just trying to remember which old white man is which, let’s first walk through who each name is. Ailes, founder and former chairman and CEO of Fox, was one of the most powerful men in media before his downfall. He worked as a media consultant for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush, as well as advised Donald Trump during debate season. Bill O’Reilly hosted The O’Reilly Factor, which was the network’s most popular show until it shuttered, bringing in about $200 million in ad revenue each year.
Now, here’s a full timeline of the allegations against Fox News.
2004: The First Known Claim Against O’Reilly
A producer on O’Reilly’s show, Andrea Mackris, accused him of sexual harassment in a lawsuit after he sued her for allegedly trying to extort $60 million from him and Fox. Among her various claims, Mackris alleged O’Reilly sounded like he was masturbating when he called her, The Times reported. A public relations firm was brought in to portray Mackris in a bad light, but O’Reilly eventually paid her about $9 million after weeks of bad press.
2014: Allegations Against Ailes Begin
Gabriel Sherman’s biography of Ailes, The Loudest Voice in the Room, mentioned stories of women claiming the media exec had sexually harassed them. However, not much came of the stories until later.
— Carlos Lozada (@CarlosLozadaWP) February 7, 2017
July 6, 2016: Gretchen Carlson’s Lawsuit
The former Fox News anchor filed a lawsuit accusing Ailes of sexual harassment and claiming her former co-host, Steve Doocy, treated her in a “sexist and condescending” way after her contract with the network wasn’t renewed. “Ailes has unlawfully retaliated against Carlson and sabotaged her career because she refused his sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment,” her official complaint read.
Gabriel Sherman reported for New York magazine that six more women described sexual harassment claims against Ailes, and more than a dozen women reportedly contacted Carlson’s lawyer with similar allegations. The stories dated back to the 196os, but Ailes denied any wrongdoing.
July 21, 2016: Ailes Resigns
21st Century Fox confirmed Ailes had resigned. Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, took over as chairman and acting CEO of the network, and Ailes received $40 million to step down.
November 15, 2016: Megyn Kelly’s Memoir Details Harassment
Kelly’s memoir, Settle for More , came out, describing for the first time the sexual harassment she allegedly experienced from Ailes while at Fox News. She described one alleged encounter, writing, “Roger called me up to New York and we had a shocking exchange. I was nervous about going into his office, concerned he might start in again. Sure enough he did. And then he crossed a new line — trying to grab me repeatedly and kiss me on the lips.”
Fox News departures, past 12 months:
– Roger Ailes
– Megyn Kelly
– Greta Van Susteren
– Gretchen Carlson
– Bill O’Reilly
— The Spectator Index (@spectatorindex) April 26, 2017
January 10, 2017: Another O’Reilly Settlement Surfaces
The New York Times reported that Fox News reached a settlement with on-air personality Juliet Huddy, who claimed O’Reilly sexually harassed her back in 2011 and then tried to damage her career when she refused his advances.
March 28, 2017: Racial Discrimination Claims
Two Black women who worked in the payroll department alleged in a lawsuit that they experienced “top-down racial harassment” stemming from comptroller Judith Slater (who Fox said was fired the month before, when executives learned of allegations against her).
April 1, 2017: A Damning O’Reilly Investigation
A New York Times report revealed that at least five women, including Huddy and Mackris, received money from O’Reilly or 21st Century Fox to not go public with their allegations of sexual harassment (or pursue legal recourse). The private settlements dated from 2002 to 2016, and according to The Times, the five women collectively received $13 million (at least $9 million of which came from O’Reilly himself). O’Reilly denied all allegations against him.
April 3, 2017: Another Lawsuit Against Ailes & Fox
Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky filed a lawsuit accusing Ailes of sexual harassment and subsequently retaliating against her when she refused a sexual relationship with him. Her lawsuit named Shine, as well, claiming he “aided and abetted the discrimination” by “failing to take reasonable measures to protect Roginsky from, and condoning, the unlawful conduct.”
Internal memo that the Murdochs just sent out to all staff at Fox News pic.twitter.com/PBeSR8zMEe
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) April 19, 2017
April 19, 2017: O’Reilly Steps Down
April 21, 2017: Sean Hannity Is Accused Of Similar Behavior
Former Fox guest Debbie Schlussel claimed in an interview that the host of Hannity previously invited her back to his hotel room after an event they both attended in Detroit. She claimed he never invited her back to his show after she turned him down. “This kind of stuff is all over the place at Fox News and anything that has to do with Sean Hannity,” Schlussel told radio host Pat Campbell.
Hannity denied the allegations, but The Daily Beast reported he might leave Fox, too.
April 25, 2017: Racial Discrimination Claims
Stemming from the initial racial discrimination lawsuit filed in March, a total of eleven current and former employees filed a class-action lawsuit alleging years of discrimination. The same day, another person filed a separate lawsuit alleging racial discrimination, and another filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Every claim named Slater, according to The Washington Post, and alleged top executives knew of the misconduct.
— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) May 1, 2017
May 1, 2017: Shine Resigns
Fox News announced Shine had resigned and would leave within a few weeks. Along with Roginsky, other women also alleged he knew about sexual harassment and misconduct at the company and did nothing about it.
Jessica Golloher, a former Fox News radio reporter filed a lawsuit alleging she experienced gender discrimination at the network. According to Golloher, Fox’s human resources emailed employees encouraging them to contact someone with any complaints, but when Golloher emailed one of the lawyers listed about her allegations of gender bias, she was informed her position was being cut due to the budget. Fox News said her claims are “without merit.”
Needless to say, it’s been a tumultuous ride. As all the current lawsuits play out, there’s sure to be more news involving allegations against Fox, as well as criticism that not enough is being done to change the company’s culture.
This story was originally on May 2 at 1:00 p.m.
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