CNN’s Camerota: ‘Roger Ailes did sexually harass me’

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Camerota (CNN)
Alisyn Camerota (CNN)

A day after Bill O’Reilly was ousted from Fox News amid a firestorm of mounting sexual harassment allegations, Alisyn Camerota, O’Reilly’s former colleague who now works at CNN, predicted there would be more allegations of harassment at the News Corp.-owned cable network.

On Sunday, Camerota said that former Fox News chief Roger Ailes — who resigned last summer under a cloud of similar harassment claims — sexually harassed her, too.

“Yes, Roger Ailes did sexually harass me,” Camerota told Brian Stelter in an interview that aired on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday morning.

Camerota, who worked at Fox for more than a decade, said that when she first began her career there, Ailes propositioned her in his office.

“When I was first starting out at Fox and I was single, and I remember Roger, being in Roger’s office, and I was saying that I wanted more opportunity,” Camerota recalled. “He said, ‘Well, I would have to work with you. I would have to work with you on that case. I would have to work with you really closely, and it may require us getting to know each other better, and that might have to happen away from here, and it might have to happen at a hotel. Do you know what I’m saying?’ And I said ‘Yeah, I think I do know what you’re saying.'”

Related: ‘This was the culture’: Former Fox colleagues react after O’Reilly ouster

Camerota said she was embarrassed and did not report the incident. And after rebuffing Ailes’ alleged advances, Camerota said she was subjected to “emotional harassment” because “he thought that I wasn’t reflecting the conservative agenda.”

“Roger Ailes ruled with an iron fist, and he wanted us all to fall in line and have his world view and say the things that he wanted us to say on Fox News,” Camerota said. “He said, ‘There is no other side.’ In Roger’s world view, there was no other side. Liberals were always wrong, conservatives were generally right, and that’s what he felt that we should be reflecting on the air.”

Ailes’ attorney, Susan Estrich, called Camerota’s claims “unsubstantiated and false.”

“Mr. Ailes never engaged in the inappropriate conversations she now claims occurred,” Estrich said in a statement to CNN. “And he vigorously denies this fictional account of her interactions with him and of Fox News editorial policy.”

Fox dropped O’Reilly from the network on Wednesday following the public revelation earlier this month that Fox News and O’Reilly had paid five women who had accused him of inappropriate behavior over $13 million in settlements, leading to an exodus of more than 50 advertisers from his top-rated primetime show.

O’Reilly called the claims that resulted in his departure from Fox News “unfounded.”

“It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims,” he said in a statement. “But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today.”

The drumbeat of accusations at Fox News began with a resounding thump last summer, when former host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment suit against Ailes. Carlson alleged she had been fired by Ailes after refusing to have sex with him.

Also read: Keith Olbermann’s advice to Bill O’Reilly: ‘Fess Up’

Ailes later resigned after an internal investigation turned up harassment claims from more women, including former Fox News star Megyn Kelly.

In a memo to 21st Century Fox staff explaining O’Reilly’s exit, owners Rupert, James and Lachlan Murdoch said they wanted “to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect.”

That is, in part, why Camerota said she is going public with her allegations now.

“It feels as though, if I take the Murdochs at their word, they really want to know what was wrong there and what the culture was like,” Camerota said. “I think that there was a lot of suffering in silence and people who felt humiliated and people who felt scared and people who felt intimidated.”

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