Gretchen Carlson was the first woman at Fox News to publicly accuse former Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes of sexual harassment, but she definitely wasn’t the last.
Ailes died Thursday at age 77.
In her memoir “Settle for More,” Fox News host Megyn Kelly described how women at the network secretly banded together to share their stories with investigators, ultimately ousting Ailes in July 2016.
Kelly also accused Ailes of trying to kiss her in 2006 when she had just started as a reporter in Fox’s D.C. bureau in the book, a charge he strongly denied. Years later, a friend of hers at the network told her about a similar experience.
After Carlson filed her lawsuit July 6, and Fox began investigating the charges, Kelly wrote that she and her friend agreed to tell the investigators the truth if they were interviewed, and began quietly asking around if more women had experienced harassment from Ailes.
“She was a fearless soldier in what would become an underground army of women — those resolved to be honest about his behaviour,” Kelly wrote.
But when Kelly found out the Ailes investigation would be limited so she wouldn’t get questioned, she wrote, she decided to come forward, and told Lachlan Murdoch, heir of the network’s parent company 21st Century Fox, what happened to her. Ailes found out, Kelly’s story leaked, and even more women started telling Kelly their stories.
“I had become aware of many other victims — the underground soldiers were finding each other — including some women who were still being harassed by him in deeply unsettling ways,” she wrote. “I figured if sharing my name with Roger would help the others stay anonymous, so be it.”
By July 21, Ailes resigned, despite continuing to deny the allegations against him.
Throughout the book, Kelly expresses gratitude to Ailes for giving her so many chances to advance her career, and writes that she looked to him as a mentor. But she explains how she felt she had to come forward with the other women who said they experienced sexual harassment from Ailes’, too, even though this “army” had to stay “underground.”
“Somehow, they found the courage to risk it all. They want their anonymity, and I will respect their wishes, but as a result, they will never get the credit they deserve,” Kelly wrote. “All I can say is, I am incredibly proud of each and every one of them.”
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