Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz reported on the latest instances in a pattern of serial sexual misconduct and harassment at Fox News by insisting that its parent company, 21st Century Fox, “has shown a determination to move quickly in such cases” in the past, touting the ouster of former Fox chair Roger Ailes as an example. However, 21st Century Fox has historically moved slowly in response to the countless reports of sexual harassment, including covering up and ignoring numerous cases.
Ailes was forced to resign last year after more than 20 women came forward with stories of sexual harassment. In the years prior, multiple women reached settlements with Ailes, and others said that the network ignored their complaints. In response to many of these cases, former Fox News co-president Bill Shine reportedly helped “cover up Ailes' conduct by silencing and 'smearing' women who complained.” In April, Fox prime-time host Bill O’Reilly was forced out after reports that Fox News and 21st Century Fox “had repeatedly stood by him even as he and the company reached settlements with five women who had complained about sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior by him.” Although the settlements totaled about $13 million over the years and the cases stretched back at least a decade, it was not until those revelations in the New York Times, coupled with an advertiser boycott, that O’Reilly was forced to leave the network. Despite Kurtz’s confidence in 21st Century Fox’s “determination to move quickly” in cases of sexual harassment, the reality is that the company has repeatedly shown that its executives are only willing to protect women when their stories become public or high-profile.
From the July 9 edition of Fox News' MediaBuzz:
HOWARD KURTZ (HOST): Fox Business Network has suspended Charles Payne, host of the program Making Money, and he'll remain off the air while the network investigates allegations of sexual misconduct. “We take issues of this nature extremely seriously and have a zero-tolerance policy for any professional misconduct,” Fox Business said in a statement. “This matter is being thoroughly investigated, and we are taking all the appropriate steps to reach a resolution in a timely manner.” Now, according to the Los Angeles Times, a married female political analyst who frequently appeared on Payne's program and who then worked as a CNN contributor last year made the allegations last month to Fox's outside law firm. The woman alleges that Payne coerced her into a three-year affair, that she was black-balled from Fox Business after ending the affair in 2015, according to the L.A. Times, and that she tried to report the situation to executives at Fox News. Payne's lawyer denies the allegations, and the host offered a strong response on Twitter, quote, “That is an ugly lie I vehemently deny to my core. There is a mountain of proof that also proves it is a lie.” He also tweeted, “I will fight this like a lion armed with truth.” In a statement to The National Enquirer, which first reported on the matter, Payne acknowledged a, quote, “romantic affair with a woman,” said he was, quote, “ashamed” and trying to rebuild trust in his marriage, and apologized to his wife, children, and friends. Now some websites have identified the woman, but major newspapers have declined, and we will decline as well because she is alleging coercion.
I will say this: Fox's parent company 21st Century Fox has shown a determination to move quickly in such cases, a number of cases starting with a lawsuit last year that lead to the ouster of the late Roger Ailes.