Monica Lewinsky rips Roger Ailes for launching 'culture of exploitation'

She opened her piece by saying her words are not meant to be another obituary for Ailes, but "I hope, instead, an obituary for the culture he purveyed — a culture that affected me profoundly and personally,” she wrote.

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She continued, “Just two years after Rupert Murdoch appointed Mr. Ailes to head the new cable news network, my relationship with President Bill Clinton became public. 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.”

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She emphasized that their tactic worked like a charm. The Clinton-Lewinsky scandal hooked viewers as it unraveled, turning casual viewers into Fox loyalists. Fox cemented itself as the No. 1 news station, where it has remained for the last 15 years. Lewinsky also said that last year, the network made about $2.3 billion.

Lewinsky called it “a culture of exploitation,” and she railed on the environment fostered at Fox News and other cable news networks that use titillating stories to drive ratings.

"Their dream was my nightmare. My character, my looks and my life were picked apart mercilessly,” Lewinsky wrote. “Truth and fiction mixed at random in the service of higher ratings. My family and I huddled at home, worried about my going to jail — I was the original target of Kenneth Starr’s investigation, threatened with 27 years for having been accused of signing a false affidavit and other alleged crimes — or worse, me taking my own life. Meantime, Mr. Ailes huddled with his employees at Fox News, dictating a lineup of talking heads to best exploit this personal and national tragedy."

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Lewinsky said the firing of Ailes after sexual harassment allegations, and more recently the firing of disgraced former Fox News ratings king Bill O’Reilly following multiple sexual harassment allegations and some $13 million in settlements paid to women, shows that Fox News’ culture extended beyond the ratings game.

“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 wrote.

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