A woman who worked at Fox News has opened up about her time as a “liberal lesbian” at the highly conservative media outlet.
CNN political commentator and activist Sally Kohn worked for Fox News for a year.
It was during that time that she learned a few surprising truths at the channel – and experienced some uncomfortable behaviour at the hands of the late accused sexual harasser and CEO of Fox News Roger Ailes.
“Despite what you might think, the staff at Fox News are not 100% ultraconservative,” she said to Fast Company.
“People were always nice to me when I’d go on air at MSNBC, as a guest commentator dispatched from Fox, and everyone is nice to me at CNN where I’m a commentator now. But that didn’t stand out to me back then because I didn’t expect anything different–and also because I didn’t stand out on those networks. Since I blended in much better among the wider mix of liberal, moderate, and gay folks there, I expected Chris Hayes and Don Lemon to be nice to me, and they were.
A New York Times investigation that revealed five women had received settlements after being harassed by Ailes.
Kohn, who worked under the CEO, said that Ailes may have ran a diverse news team, but he often made “uncomfortable” comments to other women.
“On the one hand, Roger Ailes ran the only program in cable news to hire and train women and people of color in the industry and, at the time, had one of the most racially diverse newsrooms I’d ever seen. On the other hand, we now know the same man horrifically harassed and assaulted many of the women he worked with and created a hostile work environment for women employees in general.”
“The worst I was subjected to was Ailes telling me that I had pretty eyes. Mind you, he told me this uncomfortably often, but that’s still relatively mild compared with what other women suffered at Fox News. Unfortunately, during my time there, I had no idea that Ailes’s behavior was so much worse.”
“I had no real power at Fox News, but it would have been a much different place had more women, let alone gay women like me, held positions of authority,” she added.
Kohn has been criticised by Aminatou Sow for wrongly attributing a conversation to her in Kohn’s new book, The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guide to Repairing Our Humanity.
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Sow remarked that a passage around which the book’s premise has been based on has been misquoted as hers.
The passage reads: “Why is it black women are always asked to do the work,” Aminatou chides one day as we’re in a cab and I’m telling her about my book. “Once you’re provoked, the rules of engagement change,” she adds, “and I can fucking kill you and I’m justified in doing that.”
Sow insists that the conversation never took place.
“You see this a lot, a lot of white women who use adjacency to black women and to black feminism specifically to get street cred,” Sow told Jezebel in a phone call.
“That’s something I’m really aware of and hearing her talk about herself like she’s the victim in this has been really shocking to me.”