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When Eckhart made a misconduct claim against Fox anchor Ed Henry on June 25, Fox called in an outside law firm and less than a week later decided to fire Henry.

Fox executives say the swift action is evidence that the climate at the network has, in fact, changed for the better. The network has worked to reform its culture.

But outsiders continue to harbor doubts. And the complicated legacy of Ailes continues to cast a shadow more than three years after his death.

Ailes launched Fox News in 1996 and ran the network like a mob boss would, rewarding those who were loyal and punishing those who strayed. Employees, who both admired and feared the man, believed he was invincible. When Carlson sued, they expected he would destroy her reputation and keep on running the network.

But the allegations of sexual abuse against Ailes could not be covered up, despite his denials. Once the Murdoch family hired a law firm and started looking around, they found evidence of misconduct everywhere. They forced Ailes out — and it all came to a head on one extraordinary day, July 21, 2016, while the Republican National Convention concluded in Cleveland, Ohio.

I recently revisited the events of that week for my book “Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth,” which comes out in August.

The exit negotiations between the Murdochs and Ailes were so tense that the two sides even disagreed on Ailes’ consolation prizes. Ailes claimed in a letter that he would be a “consultant” to Rupert Murdoch. The Murdoch camp disputed that, and said Ailes would simply “be available to advise Rupert during the transition.” Even that was an exaggeration. Murdoch wasn’t keeping Ailes around in any capacity. But he agreed to pay Ailes $40 million on the way out.

On the afternoon of the 21st, Ailes surrendered control of the Republican party’s top TV channel. In the evening, Donald Trump formally took control of the GOP by accepting the party’s presidential nomination.

The gloomy speech Trump gave that night spoke specifically to Fox’s America — the audience that Ailes cultivated for decades. Trump hit all the “Fox & Friends” themes: Immigration, terrorism, law and order.

“The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end,” Trump declared. “Beginning on January 20th, 2017, safety will be restored.”

He also made the laughable claim that “there will be no lies” at his convention. “We will honor the American people with the truth, and nothing else,” he said.

One bully boss of the GOP was gone. A new bully boss was in charge.

Fox News staffers were in disbelief that Ailes had been deep-sixed. They wondered if he would launch a rival network or join the Trump campaign.

“When Roger gets knocked down, he wants to get up and swing right back,” a Fox host remarked at the time. But Ailes didn’t have much fight left in him. And Trump didn’t really need his help anymore.

What has changed at Fox News

July 22, four years ago Wednesday, was Fox’s first Ailes-free day. Rupert Murdoch led the network’s morning meeting. He managed to sidestep questions about how much he knew, or didn’t know, about Ailes’ mistreatment of employees.

The rot at Fox started at the top, with Ailes, but it didn’t end there. In the months that followed, other men accused of sexual misconduct were also sent packing, including 8 p.m. star Bill O’Reilly.

Most everyone else stayed in the house Ailes built while management tried to clean up his mess. The fallout kept Fox’s lawyers busy for years and cost the company tens of millions of dollars in settlements.

The Murdochs and the management team made some tangible changes: New human resources leadership. A workplace council to address sexual harassment. A new procedure for sexual harassment complaints. A 24/7 hotline. A makeover of the New York newsroom that replaced Ailes’ old bunker of an office.

Still, several lawsuits alleged that a sexualized climate languished long after Ailes was ousted.

“The culture has not changed,” attorney Lisa Bloom said in 2019, when she filed a lawsuit on behalf of commentator Britt McHenry, alleging misconduct and retaliation.

“They give lip service to the idea that they have improved but they have not,” Bloom said. “This is my fifth client I’m representing against Fox News. Nothing has changed.”

McHenry continues to work at Fox.

Ed Henry fired from Fox News over sexual misconduct allegation

When Henry was fired on July 1, the details of the claim against him were murky. Fox News said in a statement that it “strictly prohibits all forms of sexual harassment, misconduct, and discrimination.”

On July 20, Eckhart and a journalist who used to appear frequently on Fox, Cathy Areu, filed a lawsuit that contained details of the allegations against Henry.

Eckhart said Henry forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2015 and raped her in 2017.

Henry’s attorney called Eckhart’s accounts “fictional” and said “the evidence in this case will demonstrate that Ms. Eckhart initiated and completely encouraged a consensual relationship.”

The July 20 lawsuit also contained allegations that Henry sexually harassed Areu. And it alleged that Areu was subjected to harassment by three other Fox hosts.

“What this lawsuit reveals is that today’s Fox News is the same old Fox News,” the attorneys representing both women, Douglas H. Wigdor and Michael J. Willemin, asserted. “Some of the names in leadership may have changed since Roger Ailes’ regime, but Fox News’ institutional apathy towards sexual misconduct has not.”

The company strongly objected to that characterization.

In a statement, Fox pointed to its “swift action” against Henry. As for Areu’s accusations of harassment, Fox said a “comprehensive independent investigation” found that all of Areu’s claims were false.

“We take all claims of harassment, misconduct and retaliation seriously, promptly investigating them and taking immediate action as needed — in this case, the appropriate action based on our investigation is to defend vigorously against these baseless allegations,” the network said.

So four years to the day after the Ailes scandal made international news, Fox’s climate is back in the news. A Fox spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

“Rotten at its core?”

CNN “New Day” co-anchor Alisyn Camerota, who previously worked at Fox for many years, said Tuesday that she was sad to hear that “four years after Roger Ailes was gone that the young women there feel like they’re still having to operate in this culture.”

Camerota recalled her 2017 appearance on “Reliable Sources,” when she spoke in-depth for the first time about being harassed by Ailes.

I asked her then, “was Fox just rotten at its core?” Her reply was, “Well, no, FOX wasn’t rotten at its core. I mean, Roger was the king and, obviously, everything trickled down from him.” But “there are tons of good people there,” she said. “There are real journalists. They’re trying to do their jobs.”

On Tuesday’s “New Day,” Camerota recalled that answer, and said, “I’d like to amend my answer now, if I may. Because given everything that has come out since then, I guess it is rotten to the core. I guess even though there are really good people there who are trying to do their jobs, it’s not enough. Because unless you get rid of and stamp out the predators, then of course the culture is still going to be rotten.”

Some people, though, may never believe it. When the Ailes scandal erupted, then-candidate Trump sided with Ailes and doubted Carlson’s allegations.

“I think they are unfounded just based on what I’ve read,” he told an interviewer. “Totally unfounded, based on what I read.”

Ailes and Trump counseled each other that summer, but then the two men fell out of touch. Ailes was useful to Trump when he ran Fox — but not so much as an unemployed political consultant.
Ailes died on May 18, 2017 after suffering a head injury at his oceanfront home in Florida, not far from Mar-a-Lago. Trump didn’t pay tribute to Ailes at the time. This summer, however, he has invoked Ailes’ name several times, mostly as a way to criticize the channel for being insufficiently pro-Trump.

Fox “is no longer the same,” he tweeted in May. “We miss the great Roger Ailes.”

In June, he slammed Fox again and asked, “Where are you Roger Ailes?”

When people on Twitter ridiculed the comment and wondered if Trump knew Ailes was dead, he followed up, “I know better than anyone that my friend Roger Ailes died 3 years ago, just look at what happened to @FoxNews. We all miss Roger!!!”

And in his recent sit-down with Fox’s Chris Wallace, Trump invoked Ailes again, saying “I’m not a big fan of Fox, I’ll be honest with you. They’ve changed a lot since Roger Ailes.”

For the sake of the rank-and-file employees at Fox, hopefully that’s true.

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Amal Clooney Has Resigned As UK Special Envoy Over Boris Johnson’s “Lamentable” Plans to Violate International Law

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Amal Clooney has resigned from her role with the UK government over its plans to break international law (PA)


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Amal Clooney has resigned as a UK special envoy in protest at what she calls a “lamentable” plan to “violate an international treaty signed by the Prime Minister less than a year ago”.

The world-renowned human rights lawyer attacked the government over its Internal Market bill, which will unpick parts of the Brexit divorce deal signed with the EU.

She said she was “disappointed” to have to resign because she had “always been proud of the UK’s reputation as a champion of the international legal order, and of the culture of fair play for which it is known”.

But her role with the Foreign Office as special envoy on media freedom “has now become untenable” as she feels she can no longer “urge other states to respect and enforce international obligations while the UK declares that it does not intend to do so itself”.

Ms Clooney said the clauses in the Internal Market bill “threatens to embolden autocratic regimes that violate international law with devastating consequences all over the world”.

The government says the controversial legislation, which is currently making its passage through Parliament, will override sections of the Withdrawal Agreement to protect trade with Northern Ireland.

But it has been widely-criticised, including by senior figures in the Conservative Party, after minister Brandon Lewis confirmed it would breach international law “in a limited and specific way”.

In a letter to foreign secretary Dominic Raab, Ms Clooney wrote: “My role was intended to help promote action that governments could take to ensure that existing international obligations relating to media freedom are enforced in accordance with international law. 

“I accepted the role because I believe in the importance of the cause, and appreciate the significant role that the UK has played and can continue to play in promoting the international legal order.

“In these circumstances I have been dismayed to learn that the Government intends to pass legislation – the Internal Market Bill – which would, by the Government’s own admission, ‘break international law’ if enacted.”

She added: “I was also concerned to note the position taken by the Government that although it is an ‘established principle of international law that a state is obliged to discharge its treaty obligations in good faith’, the UK’s ‘Parliament is sovereign as a matter of domestic law and can pass legislation which is in breach of the UK’s Treaty obligations’.

“Although the government has suggested that the violation of international law would be ‘specific and limited’, it is lamentable for the UK to be speaking of its intention to violate an international treaty signed by the Prime Minister less than a year ago.

“Out of respect for the professional working relationship I have developed with you and your senior colleagues working on human rights, I deferred writing this letter until I had had a chance to discuss this matter with you directly. 

“But having now done so and received no assurance that any change of position is imminent, I have no alternative but to resign from my position.”

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg: US Supreme Court judge dies of cancer, aged 87

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People gathered outside the US Supreme Court on Friday eveningf to pay tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an iconic champion of women’s rights, has died of cancer at the age of 87, the court has said.

Ginsburg died on Friday of metastatic pancreatic cancer at her home in Washington, DC, surrounded by her family, the statement said.

Earlier this year, Ginsburg said she was undergoing chemotherapy for a recurrence of cancer.

She was a prominent feminist who became a figurehead for liberals in the US.

Ginsburg was the oldest justice and the second ever woman to sit on the Supreme Court, where she served for 27 years.

“Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement on Friday. “We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her – a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

As one of four liberal justices on the court, her health was watched closely. Ginsburg’s death raises the prospect of Republican US President Donald Trump trying to expand its slender conservative majority, even before this November’s election.

In the days before her death, Ginsburg expressed her strong disapproval of such a move. “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” she wrote in a statement to her granddaughter, according to National Public Radio.

President Trump is expected to nominate a conservative replacement for Ginsburg as soon as possible, White House sources told BBC partner CBS News.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a passionate champion of women’s rights, was the oldest judge on the US Supreme Court

Mr Trump reacted to Ginsburg’s death after an election rally in Minnesota, saying: “I didn’t know that. She led an amazing life, what else can you say?”

Later on, Mr Trump said Ginsburg was a “titan of the law” and a “brilliant mind” in a tweeted statement.

Ginsburg had suffered from five bouts of cancer, with the most recent recurrence in early 2020. She had received hospital treatment a number of times in recent years, but returned swiftly to work on each occasion.

In a statement in July, the judge said her treatment for cancer had yielded “positive results”, insisting she would not retire from her role.

“I have often said I would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam,” she said. “I remain fully able to do that.”

Why was Ginsburg important?

US Supreme Court justices serve for life or until they choose to retire, and supporters had expressed concern that a more conservative justice could succeed Ginsburg.

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Media captionJustice Ruth Bader Ginsburg remembered

The highest court in the US is often the final word on highly contentious laws, disputes between states and the federal government, and final appeals to stay executions.

In recent years, the court has expanded gay marriage to all 50 states, allowed for President Trump’s travel ban to be put in place and delayed a US plan to cut carbon emissions while appeals went forward.

Ginsburg’s death will spark a political battle over who will succeed her, spurring debate about the future of the Supreme Court ahead of November’s presidential election.

President Trump has appointed two judges since taking office, and the current court is seen to have a 5-4 conservative majority in most cases.

The US Senate has to approve a new judge nominated by the president, and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said on Friday evening that if a nominee was put forward before the election, there would be a vote on Mr Trump’s choice.

But the Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden said: “There is no doubt – let me be clear – that the voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider.”

A high-stakes political fight looms

Ginsburg’s death injects a level of unpredictability into a presidential race that had been remarkably stable for months. Now, not only will the White House be at stake in November, but the ideological balance of the Supreme Court could be, as well.

It all depends on what President Trump and the Republicans choose to do next. They could try to fill the seat before the end of the year regardless of who wins the presidency in November, replacing a liberal icon with what in all likelihood will be a reliable conservative vote. Or they could wait and hold the seat vacant, a prize to encourage conservative voters – particularly evangelicals who see an opportunity to roll back abortion rights – to flock to the polls for the president.

Filling the seat would outrage Democrats, who will note that Republicans denied former President Barack Obama the chance to fill the vacant seat in 2016 for months. Waiting, on the other hand, would risk letting Biden name Ginsburg’s replacement in 2021.

All signs point to Republicans trying the former. Concerns of hypocrisy will melt away when a lifetime appointment to the court is in play.

Either way, it sets up a brutal, high-stakes political fight that comes at a time when the nation is already rife with partisan discord and psychological distress.

What is Ginsburg’s legacy?

Over an illustrious legal career spanning six decades, Ginsburg attained unparalleled celebrity status for a jurist in the US, revered by liberals and conservatives alike.

Liberal Americans in particular idolised her for her progressive votes on the most divisive social issues that were referred to the Supreme Court, from abortion rights to same-sex marriages.

Born to Jewish immigrant parents in Brooklyn, New York City, in 1933, Ginsburg studied at Harvard Law School, where she was one of only nine women in a class of about 500 men.

Ginsburg did not receive a single job offer after graduation, despite finishing top of her class. But Ginsburg persisted, working in various jobs in the legal profession throughout the 1960s and far beyond.

In 1972, Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). That same year, Ginsburg became the first tenured female professor at Columbia Law School.

In 1980, Ginsburg was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia as part of former President Jimmy Carter’s efforts to diversify federal courts. Though Ginsburg was often portrayed as a liberal firebrand, her days on the appeals court were marked by moderation.

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Media captionTrump is not a lawyer – Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks exclusively to the BBC

Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court by former President Bill Clinton in 1993, becoming only the second of four female justices to be confirmed to the court.

Toward the end of her life, Ginsburg became a national icon. Due in part to her withering dissents, Ginsburg was dubbed the Notorious RBG by her army of fans online – a nod to the late rapper The Notorious BIG.

That comparison introduced Ginsburg to a new generation of young feminists, turning her into a cult figure.

What reaction has there been?

Former presidents, veteran politicians and senior jurists were among those to mourn the loss of Ginsburg on Friday. They commended her accolades and hailed her commitment to women’s rights.

Former President Jimmy Carter called her a “truly great woman”, writing in a statement: “A powerful legal mind and a staunch advocate for gender equality, she has been a beacon of justice during her long and remarkable career. I was proud to have appointed her to the US Court of Appeals in 1980.”

Praising her “pursuit of justice and equality”, former President George W Bush said Ginsburg “inspired more than one generation of women and girls”.

Hillary Clinton, a Democrat who ran against President Trump in the 2016 presidential election, said she drew inspiration from Ginsburg.

Conservative politicians also paid their respects to Ginsburg.

“It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Justice Ginsburg,” Republican Senator Lindsay Graham said on Twitter. “Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer who possessed tremendous passion for her causes. She served with honour and distinction as a member of the Supreme Court.”

Eric Trump, the son of President Trump, said Ginsburg was “a remarkable woman with an astonishing work ethic”. “She was a warrior with true conviction and she has my absolute respect! #RIP,” he wrote on Twitter.

Within hours of the news emerging, hundreds of people had gathered outside the Supreme Court in Washington DC to pay their respects.

The BBC’s Alexandra Ostasiewicz at the scene said the mood was sombre but the crowd occasionally broke into chants of “RBG!” and “Vote him out!”.



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Poisoned Navalny plots his return, but Russia’s opposition activists wonder who might be next

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It’s not just Navalny who has been under attack.

Just one day after he emerged from his medically-induced coma, at least three volunteers linked to his team were targeted at their office in Novosibirsk, Siberia.

Two masked men were recorded by security cameras, bursting in to the office of “Coalition Novosibirsk 2020,” which is also headquarters of Navalny’s local team.

One of them threw a bottle containing an unknown yellow liquid — described to CNN as a “pungent chemical”, “unbearable” by witnesses — at volunteers who were there for a lecture about the upcoming local elections, before running off.

The Kremlin has denied having anything to do with the attacks, but analysts are skeptical.

“Russia has a track record of sudden deaths among the Kremlin’s critics: Anna Politkovskaya, Alexander Litvinenko and Boris Nemtsov, to name but a few,” says longtime Russia analyst Valeriy Akimenko from the Conflict Studies Research Centre, an independent research group. “If this wasn’t a murder plot or assassination attempt, it was an act of intimidation.”

Which raises an important question: How much immediate danger is Navalny in, if and when he does return to Russia?

“I don’t think the words safety or security apply to anyone who is opposition in Russia,” says Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian opposition politician and chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom, who has been poisoned twice in the past five years.

“I can have as much protection as I like, but I have to touch doorknobs and breathe air,” he says. “The only real precautionary measure I’ve been able to take is to get my family out of the country.”

The Kremlin has denied any involvement in either of the attacks on Kara-Murza, though his wife has directly accused the Russian government of bearing responsibility.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle has also denied any involvement in Navalny’s poisoning, but Akimenko points out that the language coming from the Kremlin in the weeks since has hardly been reassuring, given the near-death of a prominent politician.

“Just look at what’s been coming out of Russia,” he says. “Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying no need for Putin to meet Navalny; Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying no legal grounds for a criminal inquiry; Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin talking instead about an investigation into possible foreign provocation; and on state TV, ceaseless attempts to muddy the waters by blaming anyone but the Russian state.”

As if being an outspoken opponent of the government wasn’t enough of a risk for Navalny, other Putin critics believe that what is being seen as a failed assassination attempt, in order to scare opponents, might have backfired.

“Now that Alexey Navalny has survived, this may prove to be a spectacular miscalculation that only empowers the opposition and Navalny,” says Bill Browder, a prominent financier who became a thorn in the side of Putin after leading the push for a US sanctions act named after Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who died under suspicious circumstances in a Russian prison.

Kara-Murza points out that in the very area of Siberia where the campaign office attack took place, Navalny’s allies made gains against Putin’s ruling United Russia in elections this past weekend.

“When Russians have a real choice, they are very happy to demonstrate how sick they are of Putin’s one-man rule,” he told CNN.

Whenever he does return to Russia, the risk both to him and his supporters is likely to remain very high; has this affected the opposition’s morale?

“Putin rules by symbolism,” says Browder. “To take the most popular opposition politician and poison him with a deadly nerve agent is intended to scare the less popular ones into submission.”

So, will it work?

Kara-Murza says the Putin critic Boris Nemtsov, who was assassinated near the Kremlin in February 2015, just days before he was due to take part in an anti-government protest in Moscow, used to tell his allies: “We must do what we must and come what may. Of course, we understand the dangers, but we are determined, not scared.”

And while Akimenko says: “If Russia’s opposition leaders aren’t worried, they should be,” he adds that: “They have been fearless in the face of both personal physical attacks against Navalny and persecution disguised as prosecution.”

The Navalny episode revealed the dangers of political opposition in Russia to the world.

But for those actively involved in that fight, it has merely underscored the threat they already knew existed, says Kara-Murza

“I was poisoned twice,” he said. “Both times I was in [a] coma. Both times doctors told my wife I had 5% chance of living. Boris Nemtsov had 0% when he was shot in the back. But it’s not about safety; it’s about doing the right thing for our country. It would be too much of a gift to the Kremlin if those of us who stand in opposition gave up and ran.”

CNN’s Mary Ilyushina contributed to this report from Moscow

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