Divide and Conquer, a new documentary about Roger Ailes, features interviews with several of the female journalists whose careers the late Fox News president allegedly tried to end if they refused to sleep with him. One of those women is former Fox host Alisyn Camerota.
The current co-anchor of CNN’s New Day has told her story before, but never with this much detail or emotion. In this exclusive clip from director Alexis Bloom’s film, which arrives in theaters and on demand next Friday, Camerota reveals how Ailes gradually revealed to her what he was up to and how she reacted when it became clear that her boss was propositioning her for sex.
As Camerota tells it, she went to Ailes to express her interest in taking on a bigger role at the network and he “saw that as, ‘What do I get out of that?’”
Ailes told her that in order to promote her, he would have to work with her “more closely” and that those one-on-one “tutorials” would need to take place at a hotel to make sure no one got “jealous” of the attention he was paying to her. “Do you know what I’m saying?” he asked her.
“Yeah, I think I do know what you’re saying,” she remembers replying. “I mean, I knew I was never going to go meet Roger at a hotel,” she adds. “That was unthinkable to me. That was never going to happen, but I didn’t know what was going to happen next. I didn’t know if I was going to be fired if I didn’t do it.”
“Roger was the king,” Camerota adds, explaining that it never occurred to her that there might be someone higher up that could have done something to stop his unacceptable behavior. Ultimately, as the documentary lays it out, the Murdoch family was forced to take action and remove Ailes from the company he created. Less than a year later, he was dead.
Two years before Ailes’ ouster, Camerota left Fox for CNN, where she found a much more hospitable work environment, both personally and professionally, as she told The Daily Beast in an interview earlier this year.
“Roger wasn’t a journalist. Roger believed in good TV and presenting what he thought was the counterbalance to what he called ‘liberal media,’” Camerota told me. “So that’s not what journalism is. I’m just so struck every day by, now, all the stellar journalists that I work around. And it’s freeing not to have to conform to a mission statement like that.”
Of course, among the many women who say that Ailes harassed them, Camerota is one of the lucky ones. She still has a career.
“Despite all of our so-called recognition that this is a terrible thing to happen to women in the workplace, most of the women who have come forward are still not working,” the filmmaker Alexis Bloom told me in a recent phone interview. “It’s heartbreaking and it’s bullshit. Because most of these women are not pushovers.”
“It doesn’t ruin your life,” she continued. “It’s terrible, but you pick yourself up and get on with it. And to a person they’ve all said, ‘I want to carry on working’ and it’s been incredibly hard for them to do so.”
Stay tuned for our full interview with Alexis Bloom about her documentary on Roger Ailes coming next week.