On The Bill Press Show, Media Matters' Matthew Gertz Discusses How Fox's New Leadership Still Doesn't Solve Fox's Harassment Culture

From the May 3 edition of Free Speech TV's The Bill Press Show:

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BILL PRESS (HOST): And to replace -- I don't know her name, but to replace Bill Shine, a woman -- unusual in the Fox hierarchy, but she has also been named -- she was part of the leadership, has been at Fox for the last, what, ten years or so, right? 

MATTHEW GERTZ: Yes, I mean, you --

PRESS: And she's been named in some of these lawsuits as someone who didn't -- who knew what was going on and didn't do anything about it. 

GERTZ: Absolutely. You would think that hiring a woman would actually be a good start in changing the culture at Fox News, but actually, in this case, it's really not. Suzanne Scott is someone who has been at Fox News since it launched in 1996, she was a top lieutenant to Roger Ailes for years, she was most recently executive vice president of the network, and, yes, as you say, she has been specifically named in several of these lawsuits as someone who, various women who were accusing Fox News figures of sexual harassment, would come to her and she would basically throw their story in a drawer and it would never be mentioned again. So she shows up in the Andrea Tantaros sexual harassment lawsuit, she shows up in the Julie Roginsky suit, she shows up most recently in the racial discrimination suit, being accused by Kelly Wright, an African-American Fox News anchor. And so, time and again, she seems to be someone who was standing up for the figures at Fox who were being accused of sexual harassment and try to prevent people from telling their stories. 

PRESS: Last week, Sean Hannity, who's a good friend, certainly, of Bill Shine. 

GERTZ: Yes. 

PRESS: Tweeted out, in essence, saying, “If Bill Shine goes, Fox News goes, and I could not stay here without him.” He didn't say those words, but he implied that, right, and that he had a phrase in his contract that'll allow him to walk if Bill Shine or Roger Ailes were not there. So what does Sean Hannity do?

GERTZ: Right now, it doesn't seem like he's going anywhere. Bill Shine was actually -- he got his start as one of Sean Hannity's producers, and so they have a very long relationship going back over the last couple of decades. But -- and Sean Hannity does have what's called a key-man clause in his contract that says that if certain people were to leave Fox News, he would be able to do so as well. This was something that came up in a lot of the discussions around whether Roger Ailes was going to leave. People, media reporters were pointing out that if he left, it could cause a rush to the exits with different Fox News figures exercising their key-man clause and leaving. None of them actually seemed to have done so, and in fact, the folks who left, Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren, seemed to have done so, at least in part, because of the pervasive culture of sexual harassment at Fox News.

PRESS: Yeah, so it looks like Hannity stays?

GERTZ: Yes, he did a meeting with the staff of his show last night -- or, yes, last night, and basically said that he was not planning on leaving, that he was planning on sticking around. So he will seem to remember -- seem to remain one of the last links to the early days at Fox News. 

PETER OGBURN (PRODUCER): A couple weeks ago, we talked to Angelo Carusone from Media Matters, and he was saying that one of the things that we're going to maybe start to see from Fox News is they're going to soften up on their right-wing rhetoric, because they've got this -- it's become sort of a liability for their global takeover plans, right? So, this would be a moment where Fox News really could make that pivot and start to make those changes, because they are sort of rudderless, they don't really have any real leadership now. I mean, for people who don't understand, Fox News was Roger Ailes and Bill Shine. Those were the two guys. And after that, it's a pretty steep drop off. So, where do they go from here?

GERTZ: I think it's a tough question. I think it's important to remember that a lot of the decision making that is happening right now is very specifically generated by the idea of protecting all of Rupert Murdoch's other investments. It's not like he's interested in changing the culture for its own sake at Fox News. 


GERTZ: We've seen over the last couple of months, first the sort of uproar around Andrew Napolitano for making up a bunch of stuff about the British secret service, and whether they were investigating Donald Trump on behalf of Barack Obama, so that led to his temporary suspension, which, at Fox News, generally, you don't get suspended for making things up about progressives, generally you get rewarded. So that was sort of interesting. And then all of these firings that have come out. This is all the sort of backdrop for all of this is the Sky News deal in Britain, where Rupert Murdoch is trying to take over the remainder of the British Sky Networks. It's a, I believe, $14 billion bid that's currently being reviewed by British regulators, in part because they're trying to figure out if they think that he can be trusted with a major news outlet. He -- his bid was rejected back in 2011 because of the News of the World scandal, and so he's in a position where now Fox News could be the thing that is causing him to lose out on this thing that he really, really wants, and so he's basically throwing everything at the wall to try to keep that deal from going down. 

OGBURN: It should not be taken lightly that they are so concerned about what Fox News has done to news consumption in this country that they don't want to see it to happen there.


Listen To The Full May 3 Edition Of The Bill Press Show Here


This Is Who Fox News Has Chosen To Replace Ousted Co-President Bill Shine

Andrew Napolitano's International Embarrassment Could Put Murdoch's Sky Bid In Jeopardy

Angelo Carusone Statement On Bill Shine Resigning As Co-President Of Fox News