Report: Fox News Paid Former Exec $8 Million in 'Hush Money' Gawker
Former Fox News executive Brian Lewis, an aide to Roger Ailes who is well-known to members of the press and was suddenly fired in July, was reportedly paid $8 million in “hush money” in an out-of-court settlement with the network, according to a Fox News insider cited by Gawker.
The settlement was made after Fox News accused the former executive of “financial irregularities,” with Lewis’ attorney countering that Ailes had “a lot to lose if Lewis ever spilled the beans on their 17-year-long partnership at the right-wing network,” Gawker notes.
Lewis' attorney Judd Burstein reportedly issued a statement back in August that said, in part: "Roger Ailes and Newscorp have a lot more to fear from Brian Lewis telling the truth about them than Brian Lewis has to fear from Roger Ailes and his toadies telling lies about Brian Lewis."
Fox News and Lewis declined to comment on the record for the latest report, Gawker notes, with the report relying mainly on comments from the insider, a Fox News executive. The source reportedly said Friday: “The big talk at work, especially today, is the settlement number," with Gawker adding that "the exact figure had been filtering through the channel’s rank-and-file since early November," according to the Fox News executive.
"The Fox News executive, while acknowledging that $8 million is a hefty severance, said he believes the figure would have been much higher if Lewis actually had seriously damaging information to disseminate about his former boss," the report adds.
Gawker's source also reportedly said: “That whole financial impropriety thing was complete bullshit,” adding, “Everything was about Gabe Sherman.”
Gawker notes: "Sherman, the New York magazine writer, is scheduled to publish his long-anticipated (and unauthorized) biography of Roger Ailes in January; Ailes designated Lewis as Sherman's point of contact at the network."
The Fox News insider also fleshed out some details about Lewis' break with the company.
Gawker reports: "It became apparent to Fox News employees that discussions had ended, the executive said, on November 5, a Tuesday. On that day, 'they cleaned out [Lewis’s] office after not touching it for three months. It was becoming a museum.' Shortly after news of Lewis’s firing surfaced, Politico’s Mike Allen reported that Lewis had been exiled, in July 2012, to the 22nd floor of News Corporation’s Midtown headquarters after losing the favor of his boss, Fox News president Roger Ailes."
Lewis oversaw the cable channel's PR unit, which the insider said struggled with how to handle the Sherman book.
"The turmoil, which the executive compared to the conservative movement’s internecine struggle between the insurgent Tea Party and establishment Republicans, eventually split the press shop into two equally distinct camps. The first camp maintained that total radio silence was the best policy; the second, led by Lewis, argued that the network should try to engage Sherman," Gawker reports.
The Fox News source is quoted saying: “People in the first camp would say things like, ‘Mention the words Gabe and Sherman and you’re fired,’ while people in the second camp were more like, ‘Let’s talk with him.' The day the first camp won Roger over was the day Brian became an enormous liability.”