Roger Ailes, the founder and CEO of Fox News, is resigning from the network after several female employees, current and former, alleged that Ailes had sexually harassed them. To bid him adieu, we’ve collected the best of Gawker’s coverage of the times Ailes—and the company he ran until today—were the worst. Enjoy?
Fox News’ abuse of reporters is legendary. But their treatment of Matthew Flamm, a media reporter for Crain’s New York, should be flagged for eternity for its absurdity. As first reported by NPR’s David Folkenflik (and noted in The Washington Post), the channel’s PR team planted a fake tip, using a fake email address—but using a real Fox News producer’s name—about Bill O’Reilly anchoring election coverage of the 2008 primaries, for the sole purpose of humiliating Flamm.
Fox News, like its president Roger Ailes, is sensitive about its reputation. So sensitive, according to NPR’s David Folkenflik, that in the late aughts, as part of a new, more muscular PR strategy, the channel instructed its staff to write thousands of pro-Fox comments on websites large and small, wherever anything slightly anti-Fox bubbled up. In his new book Murdoch’s World, about the Australian media titan Rupert Murdoch, Folkenflik reports:
Why did Fox News president Roger Ailes fire his top lieutenant? The sudden ousting of PR chief Brian Lewis, who had pioneered the channel’s aggressive public relations strategy since its founding in 1996, inspired plenty of speculation and spin — some of it from the network’s on-air talent — about Lewis’s reputation at the channel, Fox’s vague claims of “financial irregularities,” and what the channel called “multiple, material and significant breaches of [Lewis’s] employment contract.”
Fox News executive and Roger Ailes acolyte Brian Lewis was fired and escorted out of the cable news station’s Manhattan headquarters earlier this month, marking an unprecedented departure from the channel’s tightly-knit leadership. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lewis was let go amidst unspecified “financial issues” and “complaints about complacency.” Whether that implies something boring (Lewis’s salary) or interesting (actual malfeasance), Fox’s notoriously cruel PR team is—for now, at least—in the hands of its most notorious flack: Irena Briganti.
Irena Briganti is the Fox News PR attack dog described as "The Most Vindictive Flack in the Media World," by us. Despite her high profile job and use of the media to smear reporters, Briganti herself takes great pains to keep all information about her out of the public realm. In the spirit of public interest, we present the fourth known photograph of Irena Briganti.
How does Fox News' vicious PR department respond to charges it smeared a Times reporter as a drug addict, blamed a pregnant Wall Street Journal reporter's hormones for unfavorable coverage, and that chief Irena Briganti blackballed, bullied and threatened virtually all the reporters she came into contact with? By distributing to TV critics a button with pictures of kittens and hearts, reading "Hugs & Kittens from Fox News Media Relations." Ha ha, get it? It's funny because reporters who can't take Fox's hardball PR tactics are babies who expect to be coddled. Instead, they will be devoured by Fox News chief Roger Ailes, with kittens and human hearts as the appetizer. [TVNewser] (Image via TVNewser)
"The Irena Briganti that I know is funny, hard-working and always willing to help out a colleague-no matter how busy she is," wrote Fox Television flack Erica Keane yesterday, in response to our "smear" of Briganti, Fox News boss Roger Ailes' PR attack-dog-in-chief. But Keane is in the minority in her assessment of Briganti's charm. Our post on her generated perhaps the biggest outpouring of responses we've had since Bloomberg staffers got the chance to vent about horrid boss Matthew Winkler. There was a wellspring of resentment against the Fox News flack just waiting to come out-and much of it came to us unsolicited. Everyone from journalists to Briganti's fellow News Corp. employees weighed in. "She-devil" is among the more middle-of-the-road descriptions. After the jump, all you'll need to know about Briganti's reputation-and her handful of obligatory defenders:
So, David Carr has gone and pulled the curtain back a bit on Fox PR-the single most vicious PR operation in all the media. Good for him. So let's do our part by zeroing in on the one flack who is the face of Fox's feared, vengeful media relations operation. Her name is Irena Briganti. She's the female alter ego and mouthpiece of Fox boss Roger Ailes (pictured). She's been described as bubbly and charming in person. But she's the one holding the bloody hatchet that Fox regularly brings down right on reporters' heads. Here's everything you need to know about the scariest flack in mediadom: