Poor Shep Smith got the short end of the stick today, so to speak. After a full day of silence on the Gretchen Carlson sexual harassment lawsuit, Shep read Roger Ailes' full statement on the air as the Fox Newsian way of reporting something they really, really didn't want to report.
Here is the statement in full, via Mediaite:
Gretchen Carlson’s allegations are false. This is a retaliatory suit for the network’s decision not to renew her contract, which was due to the fact that her disappointingly low ratings were dragging down the afternoon lineup. When Fox News did not commence any negotiations to renew her contract, Ms. Carlson became aware that her career with the network was likely over and conveniently began to pursue a lawsuit. Ironically, FOX News provided her with more on-air opportunities over her 11 year tenure than any other employer in the industry, for which she thanked me in her recent book. This defamatory lawsuit is not only offensive, it is wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously.
The problem with this statement is that Carlson's lawsuit appears to have unleashed a torrent of women coming forward with their own stories.
“One time he asked me if I was wearing underwear, and was he going to see anything ‘good,’” said a former Fox News employee, who said she has spoken with other women at the network who said they were targets of Ailes’s sexually charged remarks. “It’s happened to me and lots of other women… He’s a disgusting pig who’s been getting away with this shit for 20 years.”
A second ex-employee, who also said Ailes verbally harassed her with inappropriate comments during one-on-one meetings, said the powerful and famously combative executive has so far escaped the consequences of his alleged behavior, because “when it comes to this issue, there’s already a conspiracy of silence. The problem is you don’t want to come forward because you don’t want to be personally and professionally destroyed. You don’t want to bring down Roger Ailes’s wrath on your head.”
One look at how he makes them dress tells you who to believe in this situation. It's hardly a secret. It's such a joke Carlson herself joked about being able to wear pants on the set after leaving Fox & Friends.
Meanwhile, Fox News' parent company has agreed to hire an outside investigator to look into Carlson's allegations. Ailes has 35 days to respond to her lawsuit before the time for discovery opens. That should be an eye-opening experience, provided he doesn't make a hasty settlement and get all the records sealed.
If, on the other hand, it goes forward, it could mean the end of Roger Ailes at Fox News. What a shame that would be. (Not really)