Monica Lewinsky Bids Roger Ailes Scathing Adieu

She hopes Fox News will actually become 'fair and balanced' in his absence
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2017 6:41 PM CDT
Updated May 23, 2017 12:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – In the New York Times on Monday, Monica Lewinsky offers an obituary not for Roger Ailes, but for "the culture he purveyed" at Fox News. Ailes used the story of Lewinsky's affair with then-President Bill Clinton to turn the cable network into a "juggernaut," Lewinsky writes, and he did so by making sure her character, looks, and life were "picked apart mercilessly" and constantly. She recalls a day when Fox viewers were asked to vote: "Is Monica Lewinsky an 'average girl' or a 'young tramp looking for thrills'?" The strategy worked—experts have said that the Lewinsky scandal put Fox News on the map and brought viewers to the network for the first time, and since the scandal broke in 1998, the network has been the No. 1 news station in the US.

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"On Fox, it seemed, no rumor was too unsubstantiated, no innuendo too vile and no accusation too abhorrent," Lewinsky writes. But other networks followed suit, and then online news outlets "compounded this culture of shame and vitriol." "Our world—of cyberbullying and chyrons, trolls and tweets—was forged in 1998," she writes. But it seems the younger generation of Fox executives are finally trying to change the network's "culture of exploitation." A Fox pundit who made a racist remark was recently fired; even Bill O'Reilly was let go after stories of sexual harassment surfaced. "Farewell to the age of Ailes," Lewinsky writes. "The late Fox chief pledged Americans fair and balanced news. Maybe now we’ll get it." Click for her full piece. (Read more Monica Lewinsky stories.)

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