Roger Ailes' rise in politics and media played out like a Shakespearean tragedy. Though not in iambic pentameter, the Showtime miniseries The Loudest Voice tells the story of the media titan's final decade. Based on Gabriel Sherman's unauthorized biography of Roger, The Loudest Voice in the Room: How The Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News-And Divided A Country, it offers a glimpse into Ailes' ascent and reign, and gives special attention to his downfall.
The show premieres Sunday, June 30 and stars Russell Crowe as Roger Ailes, Sienna Miller as his wife Beth Ailes, Seth MacFarlane as PR executive and henchman Brian Lewis, Patch Darragh as Sean Hannity, and Naomi Watts as Gretchen Carlson.
The true story of how Roger transformed television news and U.S. politics with Fox News and how one news anchor brought about his ruin are just as compelling as the on-screen drama. What took Roger a lifetime to build unraveled in 15 days due in large part to one woman, Gretchen Carlson.
Roger met Richard Nixon in 1967.
Roger served as campaign media advisor for Nixon and became communications consultant in the White House, according to Fortune. Roger went on to work as a communications consultant and strategist to corporations and Republican candidates for more than a decade.
Fox News cable network launched in 1996.
Helmed by Roger, the American cable television news and political commentary network operated under Fox Entertainment Group, the film and television division of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. Fox News grew and finally surpassed CNN for the first time in January 2002, according to MediaPost.
Gretchen joined Fox News in 2006.
Gretchen, a former Miss America and experienced broadcast journalist, joined the morning show Fox and Friends as a co-host, according to The New York Times. The show debuted in 1998 and it's been a fixture in the Fox News lineup since then. Gretchen held the position on the show for eight years and appeared in more than 300 episodes, according to IMDB.
Gretchen moved to an afternoon time-slot on Fox News.
After eight years on Fox and Friends, Gretchen became host of The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson, her own midday show in 2013.
Gretchen turned down Roger's alleged advances in September 2015.
The lawsuit she filed nine months later quotes Roger saying: “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better.”
Gretchen was terminated on June 23, 2016.
After 11 years with the network, the news host was terminated shortly after finishing her regular afternoon broadcast of The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson. In a short meeting with a Fox News executive, she learned that her contract was not being renewed, according to The New York Times.
Check out this interview to learn more about Gretchen Carlson:
Gretchen filed a lawsuit against Roger on July 6, 2016.
Gretchen filed a lawsuit after her termination, alleging sexual harassment and misconduct, on July 6, 2016. "I have strived to empower women and girls throughout my entire career,” Politico reported Gretchen said in a statement. “Although this was a difficult step to take, I had to stand up for myself and speak out for all women and the next generation of women in the workplace. I am extremely proud of my accomplishments at Fox News and for keeping our loyal viewers engaged and informed on events and news topics of the day.”
Gretchen also named colleague Steve Doocy in her lawsuit.
During her time as co-host on Fox & Friends, Gretchen said anchor Steve Doocy “had created a hostile work environment by regularly treating her in a sexist and condescending way, including by putting his hand on her and pulling down her arm to shush her during a live telecast… mocking her during commercial breaks, shunning her off air, refusing to engage with her on air, belittling her contributions to the show," according to her lawsuit.
Roger denied all allegations from Gretchen's lawsuit.
The executive fired back with a statement immediately after she filed the lawsuit. His statement, which was shared by Politco, read: "Gretchen Carlson’s allegations are false. This is a retaliatory suit for the network’s decision not to renew her contract, which was due to the fact that her disappointingly low ratings were dragging down the afternoon lineup. When Fox News did not commence any negotiations to renew her contract, Ms. Carlson became aware that her career with the network was likely over and conveniently began to pursue a lawsuit. Ironically, Fox News provided her with more on-air opportunities over her 11 year tenure than any other employer in the industry, for which she thanked me in her recent book. This defamatory lawsuit is not only offensive, it is wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously."
Fox News issued a separate response to Gretchen's lawsuit.
CNN shared the company's statement: "The Company has seen the allegations against Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy. We take these matters seriously. While we have full confidence in Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy, who have served the company brilliantly for over two decades, we have commenced an internal review of the matter."
More than 10 other women also came forward.
These women added their own allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct within hours of the lawsuit announcement, Huffington Post reported. More followed, and a total of 20 women with similar stories of alleged harassment by Roger either against themselves or someone they knew, according to Chicago Tribune.
On July 21, 2016 Roger resigned as head of Fox News.
21st Century Fox corporate head Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, decided Roger had to go. On July 21, 2016, Roger resigned as chairman and CEO of the network, Fortune reported. In September, Gretchen and 21st Century Fox reached a $20 million settlement in her sexual harassment lawsuit, The New York Times reported.
Gretchen was named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2017.
Gretchen earned the honor as a national news anchor and advocate for female empowerment. Katie Couric wrote in Time: "Gretchen Carlson's very public stand against Fox News blew the lid off a corporate culture that seemed to perpetuate sexual harassment-from the executive suite to the anchor desk."
Roger died at age 77 on May 10, 2017.
He fell in his bathroom of his Palm Beach home and hit his head. It caused bleeding on the brain, according to the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner's Office. He died after being taken to the hospital, according to Chicago Tribune.
Gretchen spoke about the impact of her lawsuit with People in 2019.
“What I found out is that the courage it took me to come forward is actually contagious,” she told People. “Both my son and my daughter have become more courageous in their lives and the impact that me coming forward has come on them, has probably been the most important thing I’ve done in my life so far.” Gretchen also told People she “hopes for accuracy” in the miniseries.
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