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NY Mag: Fox News Obtained Media Critic's Private Phone Records

NY Mag: Fox News Obtained Media Critic's Private Phone Records

Roger Ailes (Wesley Mann/FOX News via Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 02 September 2016 12:27 PM

A stunning report in New York magazine by writer Gabriel Sherman claims that Fox News executives obtained the private phone records of journalists who criticized the network.

In "The Revenge of Roger's Angels," cover story for the Sept. 5 edition, Sherman writes that "Fox News also obtained the phone records of journalists, by legally questionable means.

"According to two sources with direct knowledge of the incident, [Dianne] Brandi, Fox's general counsel, hired a private investigator in late 2010 to obtain the personal home- and cell-phone records of Joe Strupp, a reporter for the liberal watchdog group Media Matters."

New York reports that Brandi has denied the allegations.

Strupp had become a target for Roger Ailes after the liberal media critic "had written several articles quoting anonymous Fox sources, and the network wanted to determine who was talking to him," Sherman writes.

Sherman quotes a Fox executive saying, "This was the culture. Getting phone records doesn't make anybody blink."

The allegations, if true, back up press reports that Ailes had a "black ops" group operating out of Fox's New York headquarters engaged in questionable and potentially illicit activities using private detectives against Fox critics – or even Fox staffers who fell out of favor.

New York says the ousted CEO had "ruled Fox News like a surveillance state."

The magazine alleges that Ailes had executives install an extensive video and camera system "that allowed Ailes to monitor Fox offices, studios, greenrooms, the back entrance, and his homes."

But some Fox staffers were apparently punching back against Ailes with their own surveillance techniques.

Former "Fox & Friends" anchor Gretchen Carlson, whose accusations of sexual harassment were the beginning of the end of Ailes' two-decade rule at the network, brought him down in a simple way: She recorded his comments on her iPhone.

Carlson, a former Miss America, said Ailes' comments about her legs and suggestions that she wear tight-fitting outfits began soon after she joined the network in 2005.

The blond anchor was often lampooned publicly for her anti-intellectual comments on the air, when in reality, she's a feminist and educated at both Stanford and Oxford.

In the lawsuit Carlson filed against Ailes, she complained that his comments and behavior escalated over the years.

"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," he says in just one of the recorded conversations, and in another commented she can do "sweet nothings when you want to."

She recorded him for more than a year and then took her case to employment lawyer Nancy Erika Smith. Because Carlson's contract required that employment issues be resolved by arbitration, they decided to sue Ailes rather than the network, Sherman writes.

More than two dozen women reportedly have claimed harassment by Ailes and other Fox executives.

"Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values," said a lawsuit filed by Fox host Andrea Tantaros in August."Behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-­fueled, Playboy Mansion–like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny."

Even after his third marriage in 1998, Ailes' actions continued, New York details.

Megyn Kelly said Ailes made advance to her in 2006 while she was going through a divorce, and a lawyer for former anchor Laurie Dhue told Sherman that Ailes harassed her, also in 2006, while she was struggling with alcoholism.

Carlson's attorney also alleged Ailes' long time executive assistant Judy Laterza helped recruit women, including an intern, to meet him in his office.

The harassment was routine, the magazine reports, and included a standing order that women had to wear skirts and heels and that a camera be used to focus on the women's legs.

Ailes also used the network's public relations and other departments to facilitate his behavior, says the magazine, including abetting a relationship that became sexual between himself and Laurie Luhn, a former Fox News booker who has since said Ailes harassed and used "psychological torture" on her for more than 20 years.

Fox paid Luhn $3.15 million in 2011 in a settlement that required her to keep quiet about her allegations.

The Financial Times has reported that Fox’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, was never aware of the multi-million dollar payout.

These and other disclosures may create more legal woes for Fox and 21st Century Fox. Last week, national litigation firm Scott+Scott announced it was beginning a probe "to determine whether Fox's Officers and Directors have breached their fiduciary duties owed to Fox and its shareholders."

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A stunning report in New York magazine by writer Gabriel Sherman claims that Fox News executives obtained the private phone records of journalists who criticized the network.
ailes, fox, carlson, phone
Friday, 02 September 2016 12:27 PM
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