Acting on behalf of deposed Fox News honcho Roger Ailes and wife Elizabeth, attorney Charles Harder — Hulk Hogan’s libel lawyer — has requested that New York magazine and writer Gabriel Sherman preserve all documents pertaining to Ailes, a not-so-subtle threat of possible legal action in response to the magazine’s damning article about sexual harassment at the network.
Magazine spokeswoman Lauren Starke confirmed today that New York and Sherman — the magazine’s national affairs editor — have been contacted by Harder, as first reported by The Financial Times. “New York Media and Gabriel Sherman were contacted by Charles Harder on behalf of Roger and Elizabeth Ailes, asking that we preserve documents related to the Ailes, for a possible defamation claim.” a spokeswoman for the magazine said Monday.
Harder’s letter “was not informative” as to specific objections to the magazine’s cover story “The Revenge of Roger’s Angels.”
Harder might have a hard time choosing just one objection. As Deadline recently reported about the article, Sherman’s details “the 15 days it took to end the 20-year reign” of Ailes at Fox News after former FNC host Gretchen Carlson filed her sex harassment lawsuit. Among the charges: Carlson used her smartphone to record conversations to support her claims of ongoing harassment by Ailes.
If Harder follows through with legal action — a big assumption based solely on the contact confirmed by the magazine today — it would be the attorney’s third high-profile media case in recent memory: He represented Hogan in the former wrestler’s highly successful suit against Gawker, and was retained by Melania Trump in a defamation suit against The Daily Mail and blog Tarpley.
Still, the tactic of a legal threat by the Ailes’ attorney is by now chillingly familiar: After sending correspondence of intent to the Daily Mail in response to allegations that Melania Trump was once an escort, the Mail quickly retracted the tale. A similar response from NY Mag is unlikely.
Deadline’s Dominic Patten contributed to this report