Has Roger Ailes engaged in, aided or abetted illegal activity, on behalf of News Corp, Fox News, etc.?
There have been rumors for a long time. This short diary pulls together some of the pieces. I assume there are more pieces, waiting to be compiled and/or made more public?
Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks are currently getting attention, but for US politics (and for electing Dems), bringing down Roger Ailes would arguably have greater impact. Murdoch is a right-winger and a piece of sh*t, but he's mainly a businessman; whereas Ailes and Fox News are intensely partisan, ideological and political.
Will the Murdoch empire's implosion also bring down Ailes? Here are some of the stories about Ailes' alleged criminal activities.
1) Encouraging Judith Regan to lie to Federal investigators about Bernard Kerik. In February 24, 2011, the NYT ran this story by Russ Buettner: "Fox News Chief, Roger Ailes, Urged Employee to Lie, Records Show"
After ... Judith Regan was fired by [NewsCorp's] HarperCollins in 2006, she claimed that [Roger E. Ailes] ... had encouraged her to lie two years earlier to federal investigators who were vetting Bernard B. Kerik for the job of homeland security secretary. [Ailes] wanted to protect [his friend] Mr. Giuliani and conceal the affair, she said.Lots of other blot stories were written about this at the time, but nothing seemed to come of it. Perhas it's time to look again? Can the tape be subpoenaed by a Congressperson? E.g.:
...Ms. Regan taped the telephone call from Mr. Ailes in which Mr. Ailes discussed her relationship with Mr. Kerik.
It is unclear whether the existence of the tape played a role in News Corporation’s decision to move quickly to settle a wrongful termination suit filed by Ms. Regan, paying her $10.75 million in a confidential settlement reached two months after she filed it in 2007.
Depending on the specifics, the taped conversation could possibly rise to the level of conspiring to lie to federal officials, a federal crime...
Mr. Ailes also had close ties with Mr. Giuliani, whom he advised in his first mayoral race. Mr. Giuliani officiated at Mr. Ailes’s wedding and intervened on his behalf when Fox News Channel was blocked from securing a cable station in the city.
... News Corporation spokeswoman did not deny that Mr. Ailes was the executive on the recording. But the spokeswoman, Teri Everett, said News Corporation had a letter from Ms. Regan “stating that Mr. Ailes did not intend to influence her with respect to a government investigation.” [lawyerese, sic] Ms. Everett added, “The matter is closed.”
... Ms. Regan’s lawyer, Robert E. Brown, said the News Corporation’s description of the letter did not represent Ms. Regan’s complete statement.
The new documents emerged as part of a lawsuit filed in 2008 in which Ms. Regan’s former lawyers in the News Corporation case accused her of firing them on the eve of the settlement to avoid paying them a 25 percent contingency fee. ... the records were placed in the public case file.
[...] “In fact,” the complaint said, “a senior executive in the News Corporation organization told Regan that he believed she had information about Kerik that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani’s presidential campaign. This executive advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik.”
The court records examined by The New York Times this week, which have subsequently been taken out of the public case file...
2) "Phone hacking: 9/11 victims 'may have had mobiles tapped by News of the World reporters'," "FBI probing Murdoch 9/11 hacking". There's no smoking-gun, yet. But FBI spokeswoman in NY, Adrienne Senatore, told Politico: “We are aware of the allegations of the phone hacking and all that and we are looking into it.” It's not clear whether this even happened, let alone whether there's a trail to Fox News and Ailes. According to the UK's Daily Mail: "The investigator said the journalists seemed particularly interested in getting the phone records belonging to the British victims of the attacks." Senators Jay Rockefeller (D), Pete King (R), CREW, Eliot Spitzer and many others have called for Congressional investigations. "Investigate Murdoch's News Corp.? Nah." Attorney General Eric Holder said: "There have been members of Congress in the United States who have asked us to investigate those same allegations and we are progressing in that regard using the appropriate criminal law enforcement agencies in the United States." Technically, the US could go after US-based News Corp for bribing British police, but that would make Obama look like he's attacking a media-critic, and would probably backfire (Fox would love it). This is currently getting a lot of attention. My own guess is that Ailes and Fox reporters had plenty on their hands shortly after 9/11 and were not involved in this. But that's mere speculation.
3) "Has Roger Ailes Hacked American Phones for Fox News?" So asks Leslie Savan in The Nation. Dan Cooper made this allegation back in 2008:
"Ailes knew I had given Brock the interview. Certainly Brock didn't tell him. Of course. Fox News had gotten Brock's telephone records from the phone company, and my phone number was on the list. Deep in the bowels of 1211 Avenue of the Americas, News Corporation's New York headquarters, was what Roger called the Brain Room. Most people thought it was simply the research department of Fox News. But unlike virtually everybody else, because I had to design and build the Brain Room, I knew it also housed a counterintelligence and black ops office. So accessing phone records was easy pie."Cooper had an axe to grind against Ailes for firing him, his allegation has no proof, and Fox and Leibner deny his story. Dickinson notes that "Ailes created an in-house research unit–-known at Fox News as the ‘brain room’–-that requires special security clearance to gain access. ... If that sounds paranoid, consider the man Ailes brought in to run the brain room: Scott Ehrlich... [who] had taken over the lead on Big Tobacco’s campaign to crush health care reform." Cooper stands by his allegations.
4) Per Newshounds, Roger Ailes was caught "using News Corp. security to spy on his workers at his privately-owned, small-town newspaper. Gawker's John Cook and Hamilton Nolan noted, 'It's unclear why News Corporation shareholders were paying for security guards to tail former staffers for Ailes' unrelated vanity projects.' However, Cook and Nolan also reported that several former Ailes employees suspected that their emails were being read and that offices had been bugged." Ailes told them "he'd had them followed, and their private conversations surveilled, to catch them saying mean things about him. The spying followed years of intense weirdness between the editor and the Aileses..." Various other employees were trailed. Were these legal or illegal activities?
5) Bill O'Reilly's numerous "stakeouts". Do these violate any laws? Did Ailes know and approve? E.g., Jesse Watters of O'Reilly's staff is notorious for stalking people. He staked out Dr. George Tiller over a period of four years. Tiller was assassinated in his church, by a right-wing anti-choice zealot. O'Reilly had refered to him as "Tiller the baby killer. Others include a school-board member ambushed inside her house garage. A Seattle PI editor ambushed in his driveway. Blocking a judge's car door so it could not be closed. Following people as they drove to a fire department. Following Amanda Terkel for 2 hours while she was on vacation. Terkel wrote: "My friend and I were in this small town for a short weekend vacation and had told no one about where we were going. I can only infer that the two men staked out my apartment and then followed me for two hours. Looking back, my friend and I remember seeing their tan SUV following us for much of the trip." (Is it possible they had hacked her phone?) Etc.
7) Ditto with James O'Keefe's stakeouts of Sen. Mary Landrieu, ACORN, NPR, Planned Parenthood, Abbie Boudreau, U.S. Census, NJ Teachers' Union, etc. O'Keefe pled guilty to a misdemeanor of entering federal property under false pretenses, in the Landrieu case. (He'd also been charged with felony intent to tamper with her phones!) He was quickly interviewed by Fox News. Did he break the law in other cases? Did O'Keefe get any money from Fox? Did Ailes know? How high up were O'Keefe's illegal activities known? Fox News Sunday (Chris Wallace) twice annointed O'Keefe as the "Power Player of the Week," in September 2009 and again in March 2011.
8) Various other Fox News reporters have been charged with crimes. (E.g., Andrea Mackris's charges against Bill "Loofah" O'Reilly, settled out of court. Charles Leaf, a Fox 5 reporter and ex-Marine, was criminally charged with sexually molesting a 4-year-old girl and possessing child pornography on his computer, and his older sister said he had molested two female relatives when he was younger. Etc.) Is there any evidence that Ailes knew or obstructed justice when any of his employees were charged criminal activity?
9) Roger Ailes was once arrested for carrying an illegal handgun in Central Park. (He now carries a licensed weapon.) Why were those charges dropped?
10) What else? Comment below and I'll add it (with hat-tip/link) here. I have the feeling I'm missing some big, obvious allegations...