In an op-ed published Monday, Monica Lewinsky bid the late Roger Ailes farewell, but not before blaming him for shamelessly capitalizing on the sex scandal that brought down former President Bill Clinton and left her in such a fragile state that her parents worried she would take her own life.
As the Inquisitr reported last week, Ailes, the controversial former Fox News CEO, died from injuries sustained after he fell and hit his head at his home. His passing came roughly 10 months after he was forced to resign from Fox News amidst allegations that he had sexually harassed several female colleagues.
In her New York Times column, Lewinsky clarified that she isn’t writing another obituary for Ailes, but for the culture of exploitation and humiliation the former Fox News boss purveyed. She said that this culture had affected her “profoundly and personally,” and detailed how Fox News grew its following by relentlessly sensationalizing her relationship with former President Bill Clinton.
In 1996, media mogul Rupert Murdoch tapped Roger Ailes, a former CNBC executive and political consultant, to become the founding CEO of Fox News. Two years later, the public learned about Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton.
“Mr. Ailes, a former Republican political operative, took the story of the affair and the trial that followed and made certain his anchors hammered it ceaselessly, 24 hours a day.”
Lewinsky noted that the trick “worked like magic” and got viewers hooked on the network. She quoted Fox News executive John Moody, who once wrote that the Lewinsky saga “put [the network] on the news map” and told the New Yorker that Lewinsky “was a news channel’s dream come true.”
But the media frenzy surrounding the Bill Clinton sex scandal was anything but a dream for Monica Lewinsky.
“Their dream was my nightmare.”
According to the former White House intern, her character, appearance, and life were all “mercilessly” picked apart by Fox News talking heads covering the “personal and national tragedy.”
“The comments on television and online were excruciating. I ceased being a three-dimensional person.”
Lewinsky noted that days after the story broke, Fox aired a poll in which it asked viewers: “Is Monica Lewinsky an ‘average girl’ or a ‘young tramp looking for thrills’?”
Though Lewinsky, who is now an anti-bullying advocate, acknowledged that Fox News wasn’t alone in its wall-to-wall coverage of the Bill Clinton sex scandal, she suggested that Roger Ailes and Fox News “pioneered [the] new style of television reportage” and led the other channels into a “race to the bottom.”
“On Fox, it seemed, no rumor was too unsubstantiated, no innuendo too vile and no accusation too abhorrent.”
Fortunately, as Monica Lewinsky noted, things are finally beginning to look up. After two decades at the helm, Roger Ailes was ousted from Fox News, the media network he helped build from the ground up. Since 2016, when former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Ailes claiming sexual harassment, nine other women have come forward with stories of alleged sexual abuse.
“The irony of Mr. Ailes’s career at Fox — that he harnessed a sex scandal to build a cable juggernaut and then was brought down by his own — was not lost on anyone who has been paying attention.”
Lewinsky also lauded 21st Century Fox bosses Lachlan and James Murdoch for seemingly wanting to change the Fox News culture perpetuated by Roger Ailes. Notably, last week, Fox News commentator Bob Beckel was dismissed after he made an “insensitive remark” to an African-American colleague, something that Monica doubts would have happened during Ailes’ time.
“So, farewell to the age of Ailes,” Lewinsky wrote.
“The late Fox chief pledged Americans fair and balanced news. Maybe now we’ll get it.”
[Featured Image by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images]