Gabe Sherman‘s 7,200-word New York magazine cover story reveals new and sordid details about the tumultuous days that followed Gretchen Carlson‘s filing of a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes in July.
Sherman reports Carlson’s legal team “will soon announce an eight-figure settlement.” That is just the beginning of the end of this story, which burst onto the scene less than 2 months ago, but was decades in the making. Here are 11 other revelations from Sherman’s story:
Gretchen Carlson had been recording her meetings with Ailes for more than a year.
Beginning in 2014, according to a person familiar with the lawsuit, Carlson brought her iPhone to meetings in Ailes’s office and secretly recorded him saying the kinds of things he’d been saying to her all along. “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago, and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better. Sometimes problems are easier to solve” that way, he said in one conversation.
The timetable of Carlson’s lawsuit was moved up, when, on June 23, she was told her contract would not be renewed:
Carlson was called into a meeting by Fox general counsel Dianne Brandi and fired the day her contract expired. [Carlson’s attorney Nancy Erika] Smith instructed an IT technician to install software on her firm’s network and Carlson’s electronic devices to prevent the use of spyware by Fox. “We didn’t want to be hacked,” Smith said. They filed their lawsuit on July 6.
A mistaken email to Matt Drudge:
As the inevitability of an ouster became clear, chaos engulfed Ailes’s team. After news broke on the afternoon of July 19 that Kelly had come forward, Ailes’s lawyer Susan Estrich tried to send Ailes’s denial to Drudge but mistakenly emailed a draft of Ailes’s proposed severance deal, which Drudge, briefly, published instead.
Ailes locked out on July 19:
That evening Ailes was banned from Fox News headquarters, his company email and phone shut off. On the afternoon of July 21, a few hours before Trump was to accept the Republican nomination in Cleveland, Murdoch summoned Ailes to his New York penthouse to work out a severance deal.
According to executives, [Ailes] instructed Fox’s head of engineering, Warren Vandeveer, to install a CCTV system that allowed Ailes to monitor Fox offices, studios, greenrooms, the back entrance, and his homes. When Ailes spotted James Murdoch on the monitor smoking a cigarette outside the office, he remarked to his deputy Bill Shine, “Tell me that mouth hasn’t sucked a cock,” according to an executive who was in the room; Shine laughed. (A Fox spokesperson said Shine did not recall this.)
Ailes’ top assistant earned millions:
Judy Laterza – who became one of his top lieutenants, earning more than $2 million a year, according to a Fox executive – seemed to function as a recruiter of sorts. According to Carlson’s attorney, in 2002, Laterza remarked to a college intern she saw on the elevator about how pretty she was and invited her to meet Ailes. [Laterza was among the first to leave after Ailes.]
What led to the departure of FNC PR executive Brian Lewis in 2013:
In 2012, Megyn Kelly told Lewis that Ailes was being reckless. Lewis, according to the source, asked Laterza to tell Ailes to stop because he thought Ailes might listen to his longtime assistant. Instead, according to the source, Laterza told Ailes that his PR chief was being disloyal. Less than a year later, Ailes fired Lewis.
Kelly had even begun to speculate, according to one Fox source, that Trump might have been responsible for her getting violently ill before the debate last summer. Could he have paid someone to slip something into her coffee that morning in Cleveland? she wondered to colleagues.
Who persuaded Kelly to talk to independent investigators:
According to a source, Kelly told James Murdoch that Ailes had made harassing comments and inappropriately hugged her in his office. James and Lachlan both encouraged her to speak to the Paul, Weiss lawyers about it. Kelly was only the third or fourth woman to speak to the lawyers, according to a source briefed on the inquiry, but she was by far the most important.
Megyn Kelly continues to be key to FNC’s future:
So important to Fox is Kelly that Lachlan personally approved her reported $6 million book advance from Murdoch-controlled publisher HarperCollins, according to two sources.
Many people I spoke with believe that the current management arrangement is just a stopgap until the election. “As of November 9, there will be a bloodbath at Fox,” predicts one host. “After the election, the prime-time lineup could be eviscerated. O’Reilly’s been talking about retirement. Megyn could go to another network. And Hannity will go to Trump TV.”