NEW YORK, April 23 (Reuters) - Television journalist Alisyn Camerota said on Sunday she was a target of sexual harassment by Roger Ailes when she worked at Fox News, joining other former colleagues at the cable channel who have accused their ex-boss of inappropriate behavior.
Camerota, now co-host of CNN’s “New Day,” told that network’s Brian Stelter in an interview that Ailes suggested they might have to get to “know each other better” at a hotel if she wanted to succeed at Fox News.
“I knew in my head at that moment, I‘m never going to that hotel under any circumstances, but I didn’t know what that meant for me or my career,” she said. “I remember thinking, ‘Is this it?'” In the interview with Stelter, Camerota expanded on comments she made last week on her own show, when she said she had experienced “emotional harassment” at Fox and the culture at the network made it impossible to stop.
The fresh allegations came just days after Fox’s parent company Twenty-First Century Fox Inc severed ties with its biggest star, Bill O‘Reilly, over sexual harassment claims.
His show, “The O‘Reilly Factor,” began losing advertisers in the wake of a New York Times report that Fox News had paid $13 million to five women to settle harassment allegations against him.
The accusations have cost Fox News dearly in both reputation and money. O‘Reilly is expected to get a payout of up to $25 million following his ouster, while Ailes received a package of approximately $40 million when he was forced out as chief executive of Fox News in July. Both men have denied any wrongdoing.
“Mr. Ailes never engaged in the inappropriate conversations she now claims occurred, and he vigorously denies this fictional account of her interactions with him and of Fox News editorial policy,” said Ailes’ lawyer, Susan Estrich, of Camerota’s allegations.
Estrich also pointed out that Camerota thanked Ailes in a 2014 statement when she left Fox News, saying she was “honored to have his mentorship and guidance now and in the future.”
Camerota, who worked at Fox News for 16 years, told Stelter that Ailes frequently directed inappropriate comments to female employees about body parts and made remarks such as, “Give me a spin.”
“Roger Ailes could be charming, he could be quite charismatic, he could be uproariously funny,” she said. “He could also be a bit of a bully and mean, and he also was often kind of grossly inappropriate with things that he would say.”
Camerota said the conversation in which Ailes suggested they spend time together at a hotel came early in her career, when she was seeking advice on how to advance at Fox.
She said she chose to pretend it never happened, partly out of embarrassment.
“I think there was a lot of suffering in silence,” she said. (Editing by Frank McGurty and Phil Berlowitz)