For a company already rocked by scandal, the hits against divisions of Fox and its parent company 21st Century Fox keep on coming. It has been a year since Gretchen Carlson filed her sexual harassment lawsuit against Roger Ailes, claiming he fired her after she refused his sexual advances. Bill O’Reilly, perhaps the biggest star at Fox News, was forced out of his job after guest and radio personality Wendy Walsh claimed that he promised her a job in exchange for sex. When she refused, he allegedly did not invite her back to the show.
Since Carlson went public with her lawsuit, we have learned much about the culture at Fox and the millions of dollars it has paid over the years to quietly settle sexual harassment allegations raised by multiple female employees. The corporation continues to battle allegations of misconduct.
Now two more Fox personalities are facing trouble. Charles Payne, the host of Fox Business Network’s “Making Money,” has been suspended from his position according to multiple news sources, including the Washington Post, “after a frequent guest on the network reportedly accused him of sexual harassment.” A Fox spokesman told the Post via email that Payne will be off the air pending an investigation.
The accuser is a female political analyst who was often a guest on Fox Business. She claimed that she engaged in a three-year affair with Payne, a married man. The Los Angeles Times, crediting anonymous sources, reported that the woman, who remains unidentified, alleges that she was “coerced into a sexual relationship with Payne under threat of reprisals.” She further claims that when she tried to end the relationship and report Payne to executives at Fox, she was “blackballed from the network.”
The New York Times reported that Payne’s attorney told the Los Angeles Times that “his client denied the allegations.”
Fox Sports, also a part of 21 Century Fox, just fired Jamie Horowitz, the president of Fox Sports National Networks and the executive in charge of programming and digital news operations. According to the Los Angeles Times, the dismissal “came about a week after Fox began investigating allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace in its sports division.” The paper cites an unidentified person familiar with the investigation as saying that the company interviewed several women about Horowitz’s behavior in the office, including producers and “prominent on-air personalities.”
Horowitz’s attorney claims that at no time during his tenure with Fox Sports was he ever made aware that his conduct was anything other than “exemplary.”
No formal lawsuits have been filed by the alleged victims mentioned above. Fox has taken action against Horowitz and Payne, but what happens next depends on what information gets revealed. Once the investigations are complete, and Fox can determine what happened, they may take additional action against employees or try and settle things out of court. Of course, the investigations may prove that there was no wrongdoing on the part of their executives but given the number of stories that have surfaced since Carlson made her allegations against Ailes, that is an outcome that would surprise many.
As these stories continue to develop and investigations proceed we should see some of the following issues emerge:
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