TONYA MOSLEY, HOST:
Kimberly Guilfoyle was a star host for Fox News when she left two years ago. She went on to work for President Trump's reelection campaign. She's now the national finance chair, and she happens to be dating Donald Trump, Jr. Now The New Yorker reveals Fox News paid Guilfoyle's former assistant $4 million for enduring her allegedly abusive behavior. And Guilfoyle tried to pay that assistant to keep quiet. NPR's David Folkenflik has covered many scandals at Fox over the years, and he joins us now.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Hey, Tonya.
MOSLEY: And, David, it was already reported back in 2018 that Guilfoyle had been under investigation by Fox News when she left. What's new in this reporting by Jane Mayer of The New Yorker?
FOLKENFLIK: Well, she really put some meat on the bones. You know, she details abusive behavior that is alleged by Guilfoyle towards her assistant and others. And look; I want to warn listeners, it's not pleasant, the stuff that's about to happen. It's not pleasant at all. But she apparently subjected her to deeply unprofessional things - forcing her to see her naked, forcing her to see pornographic material, forcing her to see pictures of the male anatomy of various men that she knew.
I want to be clear; Guilfoyle, through a lawyer, has denied all of this and also denied proposing a payout to basically tell the woman not to tell lawyers investigating accusations of her misconduct - not to tell them the truth, as the personal assistant saw it. Guilfoyle has denied this as well. But, you know, this is deeply unprofessional behavior. It's also, you know, notable behavior by somebody who was a former prosecutor. Kimberly Guilfoyle was a lawyer who should know that that's deeply compromising and problematic actions to try to do.
MOSLEY: She was a lawyer, and remind us a bit about her role at Fox. She was an on-air host.
FOLKENFLIK: Yeah. She was one of the brightest and brashest stars on this very popular show called "The Five" that airs at 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Fox. She'd really come to the fore through analyzing and commenting on legal matters. She had previously been a host at coast - excuse me, at Court TV. She'd been - you know, she'd had a foot in the worlds of media and politics, as well as the law alike.
She in some ways came to national prominence as the wife of the person we now think of as the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, now divorced. She had been a model in a previous life before that. But what she did was she took her legal knowledge, parlayed it into a TV career, and then parlayed it into a hard-right conservative presence on Fox News and really exploded as an ally of the Trump circles on Fox in the last several years.
MOSLEY: Has the Trump campaign said anything about this?
FOLKENFLIK: No. They've been really quiet about all this. They declined to comment. In fact, I think it's worth pointing out that the person atop the Trump campaign, President Trump himself, has been accused by dozens of women of harassing - sexually harassing behavior. And he's also been accused credibly in federal court of paying off two women who said that they had had affairs with him from making their stories public. So this is maybe a story that the president and his campaign don't want to touch.
MOSLEY: Yeah. And what does this tell us ultimately about Fox News?
FOLKENFLIK: Well, I think you have to play it against the larger backdrop. Roger Ailes had been forced out of Fox four years ago after his own wave of allegations of sexual harassment. She had been the captain, self-appointed, of what she called Team Roger to essentially rally people to her side. But when you saw he fell and Bill O'Reilly fell and many others, it suggests a culture that really tolerated this kind of behavior as long as they could, even past purging themselves of Ailes himself back in 2016.
MOSLEY: That's NPR's David Folkenflik.
FOLKENFLIK: You bet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.