NEW YORK — Attorneys for Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes are denying allegations of decades-old incidents of alleged sexual harassment that surfaced after a lawsuit was filed by former anchor Gretchen Carlson.
The alleged incidents, reported in New York magazine, are from women who contacted attorneys representing Carlson, who filed a sexual harassment and retaliation suit against Ailes on Thursday. Two of them spoke on the record to Gabriel Sherman, the author of a 2014 biography of Ailes.
The most recent account in the magazine report is from 1989. Kellie Boyle, 54, a former Republican National Committee field adviser, said Ailes suggested she have sex with him in return for helping advance her career in politics.
Boyle had received an introduction to Ailes through her husband, at the time a communications executive for CNBC. She describes a conversation she had in Ailes' car after they met for dinner in Washington.
"He said, 'You know if you want to play with the big boys, you have to lay with the big boys.' I was so taken aback. I said, 'Gosh I didn't know that. How would that work?' I was trying to kill time because I didn't know if he was going to attack me. I was just talking until I could get out of the car. He said, 'That's the way it works,' and he started naming other women he's had. He said that's how all these men in media and politics work — everyone's got their friend."
Ailes was President George H.W. Bush's chief media adviser in 1988, but never had an official role with the Republican committee, where Boyle eventually worked.
The other on-the record account is from Marsha Callahan, a 73-year-old former model, who alleged that Ailes propositioned her when she auditioned for him to work on The Mike Douglas Show in the late 1960s. Ailes was a producer on the syndicated talk program at the time.
Four other unidentified women also told their stories to the magazine.
Barry Esen of Epstein Becker Green, the firm representing Ailes, denied all of the accounts in a statement.
"It has become obvious that Ms. Carlson and her lawyer are desperately attempting to litigate this in the press because they have no legal case to argue," Esen said. "The latest allegations, all 30 to 50 years old, are false."
Carlson's suit alleges that Ailes made sexually inappropriate comments to her. It also says he damaged her career in retaliation for her rebuffing sexual advances and complaining about a hostile work environment. After Carlson's suit was filed, Smith she said received numerous calls from women wanting to relate their own experiences with Ailes.
Ailes, 76, has denied Carlson's charges. Fox News' parent company, 21st Century Fox, is conducting an internal investigation.
Carlson, 50, was an anchor and co-host on Fox News for 11 years. Her contract with the network was not renewed after it expired on June 23. Fox News has cited her ratings as the reason for her release from the cable news channel.
© 2016 Los Angeles Times