A CNN journalist who spent more than a decade working at Fox News has said she was sexually harassed by the network’s ousted chairman.
“Yes, Roger Ailes did sexually harass me,” Alisyn Camerota said in an interview on CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday.
Camerota’s vivid account of being sexually harassed by Ailes, and later being criticized by him for being insufficiently conservative, comes among continuing allegations of a toxic culture of sexual harassment, racism and sexism within Fox News, which have sparked protests and an advertiser boycott.
Ailes, who shaped Fox News into a powerful and profitable force in American politics, was pushed out of the conservative media network in July after allegations that he had harassed multiple female employees, including high-profile stars.
This week Bill O’Reilly, another ally of President Donald Trump and the powerful host of Fox’s biggest show, was forced out over new scrutiny over the millions of dollars Fox paid to women who had accused him of sexual harassment. On Sunday, a message on O’Reilly’s website said he would air a new episode of his No Spin News podcast on Monday evening.
Camerota described an “out of body experience” after Ailes suggested in a meeting that if she wanted more opportunity at the channel, she might need to meet with him at a hotel.
“It may require us getting to know each other better, and that might have to happen away from here, and it might have to happen at a hotel. Do you know what I’m saying?’” she said Ailes asked her.
“‘Yeah. I think I do know what you’re saying,” she said she replied.
In that moment, she said, “I had sort of an out of body experience hovering over us in the office and thinking ‘Is this it? Is this the end of my time here? Will I be fired if I don’t do this?’
“I knew in my head, at that moment, I’m never going to that hotel under any circumstances, but I didn’t know what that meant for me and for my career.
“There is a visceral reaction that you have where you recognize, ‘My career and everything that I have worked for is under threat.’”
Following the incident, Camerota said, Ailes changed his approach. “It was no longer sexual harassment. It was harassment of a different variety … It was sort of emotional harassment.”
She said Ailes targeted her for not “sharing his world view” and being insufficiently conservative. “Sometimes, he would lecture me. Sometimes, he would insult me,” she said.
In a statement to CNN, an attorney for Ailes disputed Camerota’s account.
“These are unsubstantiated and false allegations,” Susan Estrich said. “Mr Ailes never engaged in the inappropriate conversations she now claims occurred, and he vigorously denies this fictional account of her interactions with him and of Fox News editorial policy.”