Laurie Luhn, a former Fox News booker, has accused Ailes of ensnaring her in a 20-year relationship of sexual abuse that amounted to “psychological torture,” in an extensive interview with New York’s Gabriel Sherman. She also claims that Fox News executives knew what was going on for years and helped to cover it up.
Luhn’s account begins with a familiar, lopsided dynamic between the older, married Ailes and a young 28-year-old who was broke and in need of a job. What follows is a detailed recounting of Ailes priming her to be available at his every whim for regular sexual encounters while he dangled job offers in front of her. The encounters began with a routine that would be repeated over the years:
When she had finished dancing, Ailes told her to get down on her knees in front of him, she said, and put his hands on her temples. As she recalled, he began speaking to her slowly and authoritatively, as if he were some kind of Svengali: “Tell me you will do what I tell you to do, when I tell you to do it. At any time, at any place when I call. No matter where I call you, no matter where you are. Do you understand? You will follow orders. If I tell you to put on your uniform, what are you gonna do, Laurie? WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO, LAURIE?” Then, she recalled, his voice dropped to a whisper: “What are you, Laurie? Are you Roger’s whore? Are you Roger’s spy? Come over here.” Ailes asked her to perform oral sex, she said.
Years later, she said in the interview, her role transitioned from being available for sexual encounters with Ailes to setting up one-on-one appointments with female Fox employees who might be exposed to the same sexual harassment she and so many others faced.
The testimonies that continue to emerge in the wake of Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit paint a damning picture of Fox News as a toxic working environment in which an entire ecosystem of employees, including Luhn, aided Ailes or looked the other way as he treated the company like his own personal sexual services agency.