A former talent booker for the Fox News network came forward this week to reveal that ousted CEO Roger Ailes sexually harassed and “psychologically tortured” her for the entirety of her 20 year term at the company.
New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman said on Friday that former Fox News director of booking Laurie Luhn told the law firm Paul, Weiss that she was subject to constant unwanted sexual attention from her boss, but was bullied and intimidated into silence.
“He’s a predator,” Luhn told Sherman in an exhaustive interview conducted at her home in Los Angeles. The mental and emotional stress she endured, Luhn said, caused her to have a series of breakdowns, even leading to her hospitalization for a time.
Luhn said Ailes harassed her continually for two decades and Fox executives colluded with Ailes to keep the situation under wraps. Luhn said that for a time she went along with Ailes’ advances because he was powerful and, Sherman said, “she thought he could help her advance her career, because she was professionally adrift and emotionally unmoored.”
For a time, she was rewarded for being compliant. At her peak at the network, she made $250,000 per year planning events and “enjoying Ailes’ protection within the company.”
“But,” Sherman wrote, “the arrangement required her to do many things she is now horrified by, including luring young female Fox employees into one-on-one situations with Ailes that Luhn knew could result in harassment.”
Sherman was able to check out key points in Luhn’s story by verifying them with other Fox employees who worked at the network during Luhn’s tenure. Furthermore, Luhn showed the New York writer her $3.15 million severance agreement from 2011, which included “iron-clad nondisclosure provisions.”
“Over the course of the interviews, Luhn alternated between composed, detailed recollections and outbursts of grief, shame, anger, and paranoia,” Sherman wrote.
“I’ve always wondered,” she told him, “would the truth come out?”
Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit against Ailes has ultimately ended his career at Fox. Since he stepped down last week, a number of current and former Fox employees have come forward with lurid tales of a frat house atmosphere at the company, in which male managers and other personnel routinely harass women and demand sexual favors in return for career boosts.
Sherman’s article about Luhn’s two decades of being treated like Ailes’ sex toy is a long, shocking read containing explicit details and highly charged scenes of coercion and sexualized bullying that may be disturbing to some readers.
Luhn, Sherman said, may come across to some people as unstable and unreliable, but, he said, “the credibility of her account is supported by, among other things, the fact that Fox News paid her millions of dollars to prevent her from telling it.”
“I am reporting sexual harassment,” she told Sherman. “Whether I am a crazy person or not, I am reporting sexual harassment.”