April 23, 2017

CNN's Alisyn Camerota got her start at Fox News, hosting for Fox & Friends on the weekends and other assignments during the week. Today on Reliable Sources, she described the harassment she endured at the hands of Roger Ailes as she tried to advance her career.

First, there was the sexual harassment. When she went to Ailes to ask for more assignments at the network, his response was predictable.

"I would have to work with you on that case. I would have to work with you really closely," Ailes told her. "And it may require us getting to know each other better. And that might have to happen away from here. It might have to happen at a hotel. Do you know what I'm saying?"

Camerota knew exactly what he was saying, and said she knew then and there she would never do such a thing. She also described a reaction many women have in that situation, as an "out of body experience" where she realized her career might end up dead in the water.

"There is a visceral reaction that you have where you recognize my career and everything that I worked for is under threat and I don't know what's going to happen next," she explained.

When Ailes realized his sexual advances were going nowhere, he turned to a more insidious form of harassment -- emotional.

"Roger Ailes ruled with an iron fist," Camerota said. "He wanted us all to fall in and have his worldview and say the things that he wanted us to say on FOX News."

"He targeted me because he sort of figured out early on that I didn't share his world view. And he said you're not saying the conservative things that I want you to say, and you could be a real role model and you could be a real star if only you could sound conservative sometimes."

To her credit, Camerota refused that too, telling him that it wasn't her job to "sound conservative," but instead to be "fair and balanced," as the network slogan said.

That sparked backlash.

"I was often, you know, sort of called on the carpet for things because he thought that I wasn't reflecting the conservative agenda. So, he and I had a lot of interaction and some times arguments. Sometimes, he would lecture. Sometimes, he would insult me," she recalled.

This is the first time I've heard about hosts being bullied into spouting the Ailes view of the world, where conservative, racist, poor-shaming behavior is expected of their hosts. However, it's entirely consistent with a culture run by men, for men, and of men.

It isn't limited to Roger Ailes or to Bill O'Reilly. They're just the high-profile ones. I'd bet better-than-even odds that Bill Shine, the network co-president, is the same way. It's a top-down authoritarian culture where women are expected to fall in line and do what they're told -- or get fired.

For Camerota, it was difficult.

"And I would, you know, say to him, when he would identify something that he thought that I hadn't been conservative enough, sounding, and I would say, you know, Roger, first of all, isn't it supposed to be fair and balanced? Aren't I supposed to be playing devil's advocate?," she told Stelter.

Describing Ailes bullying, she said, "[In] Roger's world view, there was no other side. Liberals were always wrong. Conservatives were generally right, and that's what he felt we should be reflecting on the air."

She concluded, "So, when I say there was bullying, it was very unpleasant at times to be alone in Roger's office when he would, you know, boom and bellow at me about how I was getting it wrong."

This behavior is typical abuser behavior, and I suspect Camerota would have been the target whether or not Roger Ailes sexually harassed her first, simply because she didn't share, nor was she going to share, his authoritarian conservative world view.

She was smart to get away.

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