Deadline can confirm that moves are afoot to “sideline” Fox News chief Roger Ailes. Discussions about Ailes’ fate have been going on among 21st Century Fox’s Murdoch men since soon after former Fox News Channel host Gretchen Carlson filed her sexual harassment lawsuit against her former boss. Things came to a head over the weekend, sources said. Reps for Carlson’s lawyer, Nancy Smith, told Deadline they have “no comment” on Ailes’ possible removal from Fox News or any effect that would have on her client’s lawsuit.
“This matter is not yet resolved and the review is not concluded,” a representative of 21st Century Fox told Deadline when asked for comment. A Fox News Channel rep referred Deadline’s request for comment to 21st Century Fox.
New York Magazine reports Rupert Murdoch and sons Lachlan and James – who are co-chair and CEO, respectively, of Fox News’ parent company – have agreed Ailes must go, citing two sources briefed on the company’s ongoing investigation being conducted by New York law firm Paul, Weiss, in the wake of the lawsuit.
James Murdoch is said to be advocating for giving Ailes a choice this week to resign or be fired, New York‘s Gabriel Sherman writes. Lachlan and his father favor no action taken until after this week’s GOP convention. “All three are in agreement that Ailes needs to go,” that report said.
The lawyers are reaching out to interview former female employees of Fox News in addition to current staff. They are also looking into whether Ailes has been pressuring employees to speak out on his behalf, against his accusers; Ailes reps have vehemently denied the women who have spoken out on his behalf were pressured to do to. The list of women who have come forward includes Greta Van Susteren and Mario Bartiromo.
Among the lawyers’ focuses: a recent op-ed piece written by Fox Business anchor Neil Cavuto in which Cavuto called the allegations against Ailes “sick.” Cavuto’s title is SVP and Managing Editor, which makes him “management,” and his comments could be seen as part of a corporate attempt to silence women who would speak out. Carlson’s suit is against Ailes individually, not Fox News Channel or its parent.
Sherman is author of the controversial unauthorized 2014 bio of Ailes, The Loudest Voice In The Room: How The Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News – And Divided A Country, in which other allegations of Ailes harassment surfaced.
As she promised late last week when Ailes sought to have his request for arbitration in the matter moved from New Jersey federal court to NYC, attorney Smith today filed an amended complaint for Carlson seeking to block that motion.
“By and through his actions, Defendant Ailes seeks to deprive Plaintiff Carlson of her statutory and Constitutional rights to a jury trial,” the 9-page filing Monday says (read it here). “Plaintiff Grechten Carlson demands trial by jury on all issues, including whether any of her harassment and retaliation claims are subject to a valid and applicable arbitration agreement,” it adds.
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