The New York Times is reporting that Roger Ailes, the former chairman of Fox News ousted last month over sexual harassment allegations, is preparing Donald Trump for the presidential debates. From the Times:
Mr. Ailes is aiding Mr. Trump’s team as it turns its attention to the first debate with Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, on Sept. 26 on Long Island, according to three people briefed on the move, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
Two of them said that Mr. Ailes’s role could extend beyond the debates, which Mr. Trump’s advisers see as crucial to vaulting him back into strong contention for the presidency after a series of self-inflicted wounds that have eroded his standing in public opinion polls.
It had previously been speculated that Ailes, who reportedly left Fox with a $40 million exit deal, could jump to a role on the Trump campaign after his resignation on July 21. Prior to launching Fox News, Ailes had worked extensively as a consultant on political campaigns, including the presidential campaigns of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush.
As the Times recounts, Trump refused to comment explicitly on whether Ailes would be joining his campaign in the days after his departure from Fox:
Asked point-blank by Chuck Todd of NBC News on July 24 if Mr. Ailes was going to advise the campaign, Mr. Trump replied, “I don’t want to comment. But he’s been a friend of mine for a long time.” He called Mr. Ailes a “very, very good person” and said, “A lot of people are thinking he’s going to run my campaign.”
According to Vox, at least 21 women have accused Ailes of sexual harassment, including former Fox hosts Gretchen Carlson and Andrea Tantaros, current Fox anchor Megyn Kelly, who has publicly clashed with Trump, and former Fox booker Laurie Luhn, who alleges she was harassed and subjected to “psychological torture” by Ailes for more than 20 years, as reported by Gabriel Sherman in New York magazine. Ailes has also come under fire for revelations that he used Fox resources to conduct personal vendettas against enemies, including journalists, often with the help of private investigators.
Update, Aug. 16, 2016, at 1 p.m.: Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks has denied the New York Times’ report on Ailes advising the Trump campaign in a statement to NBC: