Like most Americans, former ESPN journalist Jemele Hill has not seen the new film Bombshell about the Fox News women who helped bring down Roger Ailes. But that hasn’t stopped her from trashing the movie.
“I wouldn’t see this movie if the fate of humanity depended on it,” Hill, who now works as a staff writer for The Atlantic, tweeted on Thursday. “Pains me to say that because I love the three lead actresses. Fox News is a destructive, despicable force. Did they ever consider that the reputation of the network and Roger Ailes was too toxic?”
She was responding to a column from The Hill’s Joe Concha, who broke down the film’s soft box office to date by positing that audiences are not interested in seeing the “polarizing” take on the Fox News saga. He also seemed to suggest that Hollywood was less eager to depict #MeToo stories about liberal figures like Harvey Weinstein or Les Moonves.
After three weeks in theaters, Bombshell has grossed just over $18 million on an estimated $32-million budget, though the receipts are likely to improve if it lands among the Best Picture nominees at this year’s Oscars.
But women who once worked under Ailes at Fox News did not take kindly to Hill’s sentiments, accusing her of suggesting that his victims “had it coming” because they worked at the conservative network.
“Box office receipts for this movie are immaterial to me, but I certainly hope that this isn't a suggestion that some women who were harassed had it coming because they worked at Fox or for Ailes,” Julie Roginsky, who spent years serving as a rare liberal voice on Fox before suing her bosses there for enabling Ailes, wrote on Twitter. “Sexual harassment knows no political ideology.”
Gretchen Carlson, who is portrayed in Bombshell by Nicole Kidman, added, “Harassment is apolitical,” and told Hill directly, “almost all of us couldn’t participate in movie because of NDAs which muzzle us. After jumping off cliff by myself 7/6/16 I hope u will support our mission to have every voice heard.”
Together, Roginsky and Carlson co-founded the nonprofit organization Lift Our Voices, which “advocates for an end to the harmful practice of mandatory NDAs, confidentiality provisions and forced arbitration clauses.”
In response to another Twitter user who urged her to see the film, Hill wrote, “I know the movie wasn’t an endorsement of either Fox or the culture. But nah, a hard pass from me. Too soon.”