Inside the Roger Ailes Crisis…

In your must read of the year, Vanity Fair’s Sarah Ellison dives deep behind the curtain of the Roger Ailes saga. How deep? This deep…

With Paul, Weiss on board, Zweifach told its lawyers to act fast. There was no time to “get everything off the hard drives, texts, and e-mails,” as one of the executives close to the investigation recalls. The company “wanted to move quickly to preserve the business and do something about the women who may have been victimized.” Moving quickly also had the consequence of limiting the scope of the investigation. This was not to be an open-ended inquiry like the one on Bill Clinton that had produced the Starr Report. It would not look into whether employees at Fox News were regularly spied on and intimidated by superiors; whether demeaning comments about women were something that female employees at Fox News simply had to accept; or whether Rupert Murdoch himself had known anything about Ailes’s behavior. Certain as the Murdoch brothers were that they had to conduct an internal investigation, they were equally certain that they wanted to protect the company they had spent most of their lives learning how to inherit. Their greatest uncertainty may have related to their ability to maintain Ailes’s business success at Fox News.

Not convinced? How about this…

Two days later, on July 13, Ailes held a strategy session with his key advisers. Beth Ailes announced that she had reached out to Megyn Kelly twice, to see if she would be willing to issue a statement of support for Roger. Other anchors had spoken out in defense of Ailes against the Carlson allegations, but Kelly had been conspicuously silent. Now she had just sent a text message. Beth Ailes read it aloud, according to a person who was in the room: Kelly was sorry, but she had been advised by the company not to speak publicly about the matter during the investigation, and she could not, therefore, speak out against Carlson. “I hope you understand,” Beth Ailes read, adding that Kelly was being “cold” after all Ailes had done for her. By that time, according to a person familiar with what occurred, Kelly had already spoken to Lachlan Murdoch to report the general dismay among some staff, which she shared, about the pressure to come to Ailes’s aid and paint him as a white knight—pressure she felt was being exerted by Fox stars such as Kimberly Guilfoyle, Bret Baier, and Greta van Susteren.

Still not convinced? Well…

The lawyers from Paul, Weiss briefed Zweifach at least once a day on the results of what they were hearing. Zweifach, in turn, briefed the Murdochs. A 21st Century Fox executive recalls Rupert saying late that week, after he had heard multiple reports from the investigation, “I think we know where this is going.” Meanwhile, Roger Ailes was increasingly stung by Megyn Kelly’s continuing public silence. According to an executive familiar with the matter, after reporters asked Fox News’s spokesperson, Irena Briganti, why Kelly had not said a word in support of Ailes, Ailes wanted Briganti to issue a pointed, nasty comment: “Everyone has the right to remain silent.” Briganti never put out such a statement and advised that no response was the best response. According to the executive, Beth Ailes, who was in the office daily, advocated attacking Kelly through friendly media outlets, such as Breitbart News. She also asked Todd Starnes, a conservative columnist and Fox News radio host, to write a blog post about Kelly’s public silence. (He never did.) Roger Ailes told his core group of advisers several times that week that there needed to be more negative stories about Carlson. (Ailes’s lawyer Susan Estrich strongly disputed this narrative but provided no specific factual correction.)

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