CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, who worked for Fox News Channel for 16 years, says a “chilling effect” there stopped people from reporting harassment.
“It was Roger Ailes’ fiefdom. He was the king,” Camerota said Thursday on “New Day.” Ailes, the network’s former CEO, resigned last summer after a series of sexual harassment allegations were leveled against him.
Bill O’Reilly, the host of the most popular program on cable news, was ousted from Fox News on Wednesday, less than three weeks after The New York Times published details of settlements paid to five women who accused him of inappropriate behavior.
Camerota said there is a “feeling” inside the network that there is “actually more to come — that this isn’t the end.”
She said she was not sexually harassed by O’Reilly. But she said she suffered “emotional harassment” while at the network. And she said the culture, starting with Ailes, made it impossible to address.
“Roger could be a bully. He called people names,” Camerota said. “And it was that feeling of not wanting to ever run afoul of him that was really the chilling effect.”
O’Reilly has denied wrongdoing, as has Ailes. O’Reilly also said no woman ever filed a complaint about him with Human Resources or called the company hotline to report harassment. Camerota took issue with that defense.
“There was no hotline,” she said. “If a hotline is secret, it doesn’t work.”
After The Times published its investigation, an O’Reilly accuser called Fox’s hotline to report what she described as harassment by O’Reilly in 2013.
The parent company of Fox News, 21st Century Fox, said this week that it parted ways with O’Reilly “after a thorough and careful review of the allegations.”
Representatives from Fox News Channel and 21st Century Fox did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Camerota’s remarks.
Other former contributors on “The O’Reilly Factor” spoke out against the ex-Fox News host after his ouster.
Kirsten Powers, a CNN political analyst who used to appear on O’Reilly’s show, told Anderson Cooper on Wednesday that she recalled complaining about O’Reilly’s behavior.
She said she was told, “You know Bill, there’s nothing we can do.”
Margaret Hoover, who was once a regular contributor on “The O’Reilly Factor” and is now a CNN political analyst, said Thursday on CNN that she sometimes felt like a “blonde backdrop for O’Reilly’s opinions” on the show.
Hoover said while she was never sexually harassed “explicitly” by O’Reilly, he commented to her on her appearance, sometimes offering critiques on the length her eyelashes or the color of her lip gloss.
“I had to navigate a minefield, is what it felt like to me, to make sure that I never was in an experience or a situation where I felt vulnerable,” she said.