On CNN’s Reliable Sources, two media analysts took a look at how Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp — the parent of Fox News — is handling the developing scandal over accusations that exec Roger Ailes has a history of sexually harassing women.
Fox has a “nasty operation” that knows how to destroy critics and opponents when company decides to go after them.
According to NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik, the Ailes scandal has overtones of the Bill Cosby rape allegations that continued to grow and grow as more women came forward.
“The real specter looming over this is Bill Cosby,” he explained. “There was such a parade of women who came forward who ultimately seemed to be credible, regardless of what played out in the legal sphere. The public sphere seemed quite strong.”
“I know that there is a climate of great concern [at Fox], both of people who are loyal to Mr. Ailes, but also of people who are fearful of speaking out. This is the climate as Gretchen Carlson’s lawyer said in one of their responses over the weekend,” he continued.
Asked to comment on what he thinks will happen next, Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik was very animated.
“If you follow them [Fox] at all, you know that they were going to come out swinging,” Zurawik said before addressing a memo Fox released later in the week showing Ailes attempted to keep Carlson on board.
“Let’s talk about that,” he said. “Fox has a very sophisticated, very aggressive, very even nasty operation where they attack opponents and they put stuff in the hands of reporters at certain places. And there are a lot of ways that that game’s played. You saw that happening, I mean I could tell where things were being placed by where things were showing up in the first couple days of this. That’s the way the game is played.”
Journalist Gabriel Sherman later agreed, citing the well publicized sexual harassment suit filed against Fox star Bill O’Reilly in 2004.
“Well if history is a judge, his strategy is to go on the attack. I mean let’s look at going back to 2004, when Andrea Mackris who accused Bill O’Reilly, Fox’s highest profile talent, of sexual harassment,” he explained. “Fox News PR machine went on the attack, discredited her motives, said she was trying to seek money, extortion.”
O’Reilly eventually settled with Mackris for an undisclosed sum after details about about phone sex calls, vibrators and falafel mistaken for loofahs became fodder for comedians.