The Media

Report: Fox News Chief Used Network Budget to Stalk Enemies

As the supreme leader of Fox News, former CEO Roger Ailes had control over the Fox News budget and he apparently used that control to stalk his personal enemies.

According to a report from New York Magazine, Ailes used the Fox News budget to pay for the services of private investigators and stalkers who followed and harassed people on behalf of Roger Ailes.

via Media Matters

[New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman] reported that Ailes used revenue from Fox’s budget to hire consultants, operatives, and detectives that “reported only to him” and would work in a special “Black Room” to conduct operations “against people he targeted both inside and outside the company.” Sherman wrote that “Targets of the campaigns included journalists” such as Sherman himself and reporters from Gawker. He also wrote that multiple Fox employees participated in these operations, including Fox contributor and Ailes lawyer Peter Johnson Jr. and Fox contributor Bo Diehl, and that Fox’s CFO “approved budget expenditures throughout this period,” along with Fox’s general counsel.

Ailes used Fox News employees to harass other Fox News employees, for Christ's sake.

This all comes on top of reports that Ailes essentially used Fox News as his own sex-trafficking operation. Ailes used the network's recruiting operation to funnel young women into his office where he coerced and pressured them into sexual encounters according to a growing list of his victims.

Ailes received a golden parachute of over $60 million to leave the network.

To say that Ailes' tenure at Fox News was Nixonian would be more than just a metaphor. Ailes produced television for Nixon.

  • mnpollio

    Not much of a surprise when one remembers that Bill O’Riley would often dispatch Jesse Watters to harrass and intimidate anyone who said something that hurt his feelings. Fox News is made up of some of the vilest, most thin-skinned individuals on earth.

  • muselet

    Wow.

    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.

    Better late than never, I suppose, but 21st Century Fox is a publicly-traded company. Those “Fox executives” had a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders which they failed to perform because they didn’t dare annoy Roger Ailes.

    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.

    Ailes, through his attorney Susan Estrich, said, “These allegations are totally false.”

    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.

    If Kranz and Brandi didn’t know about the surveillance and online attacks, they weren’t doing their jobs. There was a lot of that going around.

    I don’t expect these revelations to have much of an effect on Fox News Channel as an entity—depriving me of the opportunity to gibe that the sinking ship is deserting the rats—since everyone involved is already pleading ignorance (“Roger who?”). Fox News Channel viewers either won’t hear about this or won’t care, NASDAQ won’t delist 21st Century Fox over this, providers won’t drop FNC over this, and our glorious news media won’t touch the story with a bargepole.

    A few mid-level people will be scapegoated and lose their jobs, Roger Ailes will slither away with his $60 million (and sexual harassment lawsuits), and a week from now, nobody will remember the story.

    –alopecia

    • JMAshby

      It may fall out of the headlines for now but I think this story is far from over. I expect a major shakeup after the election.

    • Aynwrong

      “and our glorious news media won’t touch the story with a bargepole.”

      He may be nuts, but this is why I continue to miss Keith Olbermann.

  • Ailes is a truly vile person. Odds are the Murdoch’s already knew about his using the Budget for harassing people. The CFO had to approve it and that CFO reports directly to the Murdochs. Essentially, they were okay with his harassment of employees until it became public knowledge. I’m not a lawyer but I would think this would open the door for “hostile work environment” law suits that allege it wasn’t just Ailes but the entire corporate culture. The line of lawsuits is about to get much, much longer.

    • muselet

      I hope you’re right.

      –alopecia