“People are terrified”: Inside Fox News, fear of a new woke era

When Roger Ailes founded Fox News in 1996, he made it one of the network’s core missions to fiercely oppose identity politics and political correctness. Now, nearly two years after Ailes was fired for sexual harassment, Fox News is getting woke. Today, Lachlan Murdoch announced the network’s longtime programming executive, Suzanne Scott, was being promoted to chief executive of the news organization, noting in the release that she “made history as its first female C.E.O.” Scott’s elevation comes two days after the network announced it had settled the remaining gender and racial discrimination lawsuits from the Ailes era for roughly $10 million.

But as Fox News adapts its 1950s workplace culture to fit the times, staffers are on edge. According to sources, Fox News recently installed a “meditation room” complete with Muslim prayer rugs in Ollie North’s office in the network’s Washington bureau. (Earlier this month, North left Fox to become the N.R.A. president.) Staffers now attend mandatory sexual harassment training, and the employee intranet includes a section for gender-transition policies and guidelines. “People are terrified. They kicked Ollie North out and put in a prayer room. We’ve got a new trans policy. You’re not allowed to be transphobic,” one source said. Other changes that would have been alien in the Ailes era include the creation of a workforce and diversity council. “People’s heads are blowing up,” one insider said.