The woman who memorably described Roger Ailes’ exposed genitals as “red like raw hamburger” has been trying to get that disgusting comparison and the rest of her story about his alleged sexual harassment published for over twenty years.
The Chicago Reader’s Michael Miner says he personally knows the woman identified as “Susan” in Gabriel Sherman’s piece for New York magazine. She met Ailes as a 16-year-old in 1967, when he was running a syndicated talk show in Philadelphia, on which she had a walk-on part. Ailes allegedly exposed himself to her, chased her around his office after locking the door, then ultimately gave up hope on getting an underage girl to touch him. She believes he knew she was 16.
Miner writes calmly but passionately on behalf of his friend, who he reached out to as soon as he was aware of Carlson’s suit against her former boss. He’s particularly annoyed with the implications of the phrase “out of the woodwork,” one that has been used many times to describe the now numerous allegations against Bill Cosby. He reports that Susan first tried to go public in 1992:
Susan typed up an account of the Mike Douglas Show encounter and sent it to the primary alternative newspaper in what was by then her hometown, LA Weekly. “Roger, You Made Me a Democrat,” she called her story, and went on to say that, pre-Ailes, she’d been a “Goldwater Girl,” her mother a Republican committeewoman.
The editor of L.A. Weekly, Jay Levin, remembered Susan’s submission. He had staff writer Rob Curran call Ailes to see what was up, and it took awhile for Ailes to deny the allegations in the piece:
“We had expected the usual ‘She’s lying and I will sue you,’” says Levin; “Instead, Curran said he got a kind of mumbling self-pity from Ailes. So I decided I needed to hear him myself.”
Levin got the same. “To the best of my memory,” he says, “Ailes repeated something about being in a bad place in his past life. He didn’t make any threats and he didn’t really make any clear denial. He was fumbling around in self-pity. I said, ‘OK, to be clear, are you denying this or not? Are you saying she’s a liar? I don’t hear a clear denial.’ He said, weakly, ‘Yes, I’m denying it,’ and he wanted to know what we were going to do.”
Levin ultimately didn’t publish the story, which Miner says he understands. At the time, there weren’t other known victims of Ailes’ advances. Susan has since tried to share her story with multiple publications, as recently as 2011, but no takers.
Elsewhere in the Ailes case, Megyn Kelly still hasn’t commented, and The Daily Beast reports that sources say her co-workers are irritated that she hasn’t stood up for Ailes. Ailes has cultivated Kelly’s career at Fox News and apparently many at the network feel she owes him her loyalty; her anonymous coworkers say she’s “being selfish,” should give “some sign of appreciation” so “she’s not just out for herself,” and other stuff of that kind.
“I can only guess that she wishes to be a feminist icon and doesn’t want to be on the wrong side of it,” said the Fox News insider. “My impression is she doesn’t want to be on the opposite side of a woman, period. She really believes that she’s plowing new ground for girls and women. It’s ‘I am cable-show host, hear me roar.’”
Oh, that old battle cry.
Update: But Bill O’Reilly has finally weighed in, telling Seth Meyer’s Wednesday night that he supports Ailes “100 percent.”
Image via Getty.