Sexual Harassment at Fox News | Media Matters for America

Sexual Harassment at Fox News

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  • Who gets the luxury of a media comeback? 

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Months ago, Eric Bolling left Fox News amid an investigation into reports he had sent unsolicited pictures of male genitalia to multiple colleagues. Today, without having publicly reckoned with his past conduct whatsoever, Bolling announced he’ll soon return to the media scene as the host of a new show on conservative media outlet CRTV. He has also reportedly been “in talks” with Newsmax, Sinclair, MSNBC, and The Hill.

    Bolling is part of a club of wealthy media men who are laying the groundwork for comebacks they have not earned. He is one of several high-profile media figures -- along with Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, and Bill O’Reilly -- reported for workplace sexual misconduct who have now decided they deserve a second chance despite not having done any of the very tough public reflection such a comeback ought to require, at minimum. Rose is even reportedly involved in a new show idea being shopped in which he would interview other men, including Lauer, about their public outings as sexual predators.

    As these media men attempt to pitch news executives and the public on a redemption tour, it’s up to us as media consumers to figure out what happens now. Does the world benefit from having these specific dudes back on air?

    Will these comebacks involve thoughtful, honest examination of past conduct?

    All evidence points to no. 

    These men have all offered vague (at least partial) denials and largely declined to discuss the reports against them, sometimes citing legal reasons. Bolling, for example, appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe earlier this week to talk about his work combating the opioid crisis (his son tragically died last year from an opioid-related overdose). But when the conversation turned to his departure from Fox, Bolling had nothing of substance to say. When co-host Mika Brzezinski asked him point-blank if he had ever sexually harassed anyone, Bolling would not answer, saying he couldn’t discuss it because of a lawsuit.

    In O’Reilly’s case, in addition to hiding behind legal language or vague statements, he has been unapologetic and unrepentant. Months after his firing from Fox News, he booked an interview with Lauer on NBC’s Today; Media Matters wrote that the sit-down would be harmful unless it was a “deeply researched and responsible interview focused solely on the reports that he sexually harassed at least five women.” Instead, 4.5 million Americans were treated to a petulant back-and-forth between two sexual predators (though Lauer’s misconduct was not publicly known at the time). O’Reilly largely obfuscated, implying a legal reason for the silence, but still managed to attack one of his accusers on air.

    Rose, too, has shown little interest in an actual reckoning for past behavior. Right around the time the news broke of his potential new comeback show (which one can only hope will never see the light of day), Rose was publicly partying with Woody Allen and dining with Sean Penn, who has been reported for domestic abuse. (Penn previously wrote a poem defending Rose, because reported predators stick together.) In a profile in The Hollywood Reporter published weeks before, sources close to Rose couldn’t agree on whether he’d yet acknowledged or grappled with any wrongdoing.

    How does a “comeback” factor into the institutional and cultural healing process?

    Beyond the question of whether a comeback is appropriate, there’s also the question of whether one is appropriate now.

    The former workplaces of the media figures in question -- Fox News for Bolling and O’Reilly, CBS and PBS for Rose, and NBC for Lauer -- still have a lot of work to do when it comes to workplace culture. NBC, CBS, and Fox all launched some type of internal investigation following reports of sexual misconduct by their employees, and in some cases the investigations are brand new or still ongoing.

    New details are still emerging in public reporting too, illuminating what is now clearly a much larger, more pervasive cultural issue than can be fixed by any one outlet firing any one individual (though it’s still a good start). In the case of Rose, The Washington Post published a follow-up investigation just this week, based on interviews with more than 100 people, that revealed an atmosphere at CBS that allowed Rose to reportedly harass employees for several decades without reproach. More information about the number and severity of harassment suits brought against O’Reilly continued to trickle out for months after his firing -- and public knowledge still may be incomplete.

    Throughout these revelations, leaders at Fox, NBC, and CBS have denied knowledge of reported misconduct before it was made public.

    How can media companies know a problem is “fixed” -- and that these particular media men are ready to return to airwaves -- when company leaders continue to apparently learn details about their own workplace culture from reporters and the courageous people willing to talk to them? Are they listening to their own employees only after they speak to reporters at other outlets? More importantly, have they created a culture in such dire need of fixing that employees felt they’d be heard only if they made their trauma public?

    This is an industry and a society at the very beginning of a long reckoning, one whose leaders are at various points on their own pathways to understanding. Doling out second chances without a thorough examination of what went wrong the first time won’t fix a damn thing.

    What about all the people who are waiting on their first chance?

    This is the big question -- the one that transcends any specific examples and will linger over any potential comeback, presently planned or in the future: Why do these men deserve second chances when society has deprived so many talented individuals of a first chance?

    Newsrooms remain overwhelmingly white and male -- a remarkable homogeneity that itself is a risk factor for workplace harassment. Think of all the voices we’ve never heard because they were passed over to make room for Charlie Rose or Matt Lauer or Bill O’Reilly or Eric Bolling. Think of the kinds of people who are and aren’t valued, or listened to, or believed, in the media world, and the message that sends to viewers.

    This big question also applies to people who’ve been pushed out of the media industry because of harassment. Ann Curry was reportedly forced out at Today after experiencing verbal harassment on set -- and after speaking to management about Lauer. Former Fox News figure Gretchen Carlson described the retaliation she faced after reporting harassment by Roger Ailes and current Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy; she left Fox days before filing her lawsuit against Ailes. One study found that 75 percent of employees who reported misconduct at work faced retaliation -- so Curry’s and Carlson’s stories probably represent countless others.

    Nearly half of women media workers in a 2013 poll said they’d experienced sexual harassment on the job. And many of the #MeToo media stories have included heartbreaking asides from young journalists who experienced harassment and had their professional ambition destroyed. What about these people -- mostly young women -- who lost their dignity and their dreams, their first chance, at the hands of a powerful harasser like Lauer or Rose?

    Perhaps we should focus on taking a chance on new voices that could make the world better instead of bestowing a “comeback” upon those who already used their first chance to make the world worse.

  • Fox & Friends is teaming up for an event with Bill O’Reilly at Trump Hotel

    Update: The Fox & Friends tour has been removed from the event's website

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    UPDATE (4:46 p.m.): A Fox spokesperson told Erik Wemple, “We had no knowledge of this and we are not allowing Fox & Friends to be part of any donation package.” Additionally, Nick Adams denied that Hegseth was involved, telling Wemple, “FLAG acted on our own. The wording on the website was an honest mistake. The moment FLAG became aware of it, we took action to correct it.”

    UPDATE (1:02 p.m.): The Fox & Friends tour has been removed from the event website.

    Former Fox host Bill O’Reilly announced that he was appearing at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., on April 21 for “An Evening With Bill O’Reilly.” The event is being sponsored by the Foundation for Liberty and American Greatness (FLAG), founded by Nick Adams, a regular on Fox News.

    Ticket prices for the event start at $500, according to the event page. However, patrons who give contributions of more than $5,000 are rewarded with an “invitation to behind the scenes tour of Fox & Friends on April 18 unveiling the Students’ Declaration of Independence.”

    Fox & Friends Weekend host Pete Hegseth is on the board of FLAG, along with prominent right-wing figures including former Rep. Allen West (R-FL), radio host Dennis Prager, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, and CNN’s Steve Cortes.

    Bill O’Reilly was fired from Fox News a year ago in the wake of reports about multiple sexual harassment settlements involving him. He returned to Fox News in September as a guest of host Sean Hannity. He has also recently been credited as executive producer of the network’s historical series Legends and Lies.

  • Revelations from Bill O'Reilly's settlements underscore how Fox News enables its sexual harassers

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    On April 3, a federal judge denied a motion by former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly to seal settlement agreements made with women who say he sexually harassed them. According to CNN, the attorneys representing the plaintiffs said the terms of the agreements include requiring one of the women to lie -- even under oath -- and levying what CNN called “onerous” penalties to enforce the agreement. The agreements are yet more evidence of the toxic, enabling culture at Fox News, which reportedly helped O’Reilly sweep these accusations under the rug.

    O’Reilly’s reported sexual harassment and abuse are now well-documented. The former Fox star was fired from the network after advertisers fled his show following a New York Times report that he had paid out at least $13 million to five women. It was later revealed that O’Reilly paid another woman $32 million to halt a sexual harassment lawsuit.

    But O’Reilly did not act alone; he was enabled by Fox News, which has a long history of protecting sexual harassers and abusers and which has a culture described by one former employee as a “sex-fueled, Playboy mansion-like cult steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny.” And, according to the Times, when one of O’Reilly’s accusers filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him, “Fox News and Mr. O’Reilly adopted an aggressive strategy that served as a stark warning of what could happen to women if they came forward with complaints. … Before [former Fox producer Andrea] Mackris even filed suit, Fox News and Mr. O’Reilly surprised her with a pre-emptive suit of their own.”

    Here are details about some of the terms of that settlement Fox allegedly helped O’Reilly secure, as reported by CNN:

    The judge's ruling means that certain terms of the settlements are coming to light for the first time. A motion filed Wednesday by Neil Mullin and Nancy Erika Smith, the attorneys representing the three plaintiffs, claims that the settlement reached with Andrea Mackris, a former Fox News producer who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against O'Reilly in 2004, required her to "lie -- even in legal proceedings or under oath -- if any evidence becomes public, by calling evidence 'counterfeit' or 'forgeries.'"

    The potential penalties etched in the settlements were particularly onerous. If Mackris goes public about the details of the settlement, the agreement stated that she "shall return all sums paid under this Agreement, forfeit any future payments due under this Agreement, disgorge to O'Reilly the value of any benefit earned or received as a result of such disclosure, and pay to O'Reilly all reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred by O'Reilly in attempting to enforce this Agreement."

    The filing asserts that Mackris' attorney, Benedict Morelli, switched sides and agreed to become O'Reilly's lawyer while negotiating the agreement.

    "This profoundly unethical conflict left Ms. Mackris virtually without legal counsel," the filing said.

    Morelli disputed those assertions in a statement.

    "We worked extremely hard to secure a significant financial settlement for her (Mackris)," he said. "The claim that I did not vigorously represent her, or that I represented O'Reilly during or after the settlement process, is absolutely false."

    This post has been updated with Morelli's statement.

  • Newsmax is airing Bill O'Reilly's hot takes on Trump's State of the Union address

    Serial sexual harasser to give commentary on speech by man who has openly bragged about committing sexual assault 

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Conservative outlet Newsmax will be hosting disgraced serial sexual predator Bill O’Reilly to “provide in-depth analysis” of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address tomorrow night.

    Newsmax announced on January 29 that O’Reilly will provide “live analysis” for Tuesday’s address by Trump -- with whom he has much in common -- on its Newsmax TV channel. In its press release, Newsmax CEO and close Trump friend Chris Ruddy said that O’Reilly’s “frank, no-holds-barred analysis is needed in American media more than ever.”  

    O’Reilly has settled at least six legal claims related to workplace sexual harassment over the course of 15 years, including one extremely notable settlement with former Fox analyst Lis Wiehl amounting to a whopping $32 million.

    After O’Reilly departed from Fox News following The New York Timesinitial reporting on the settlements in April 2017, he was largely and rightfully relegated to recording audio and video clips in his home office for his personal website. And his handful of media appearances in recent months have illustrated exactly how little his “analysis” is needed.

    In September, O’Reilly sat down with former Today show host Matt Lauer -- with whom he also has much in common -- and personally attacked one of the women who came forward about his harassment.

    And, to underscore the complete moral bankruptcy of Fox News and Sean Hannity, O’Reilly has several times appeared on Hannity’s radio show and on his Fox News show, sometimes to launch similar attacks. O’Reilly even appeared in person in the studio at Fox News, possibly sharing a space with women who’d been subjected to his harassment. (Fox heavily promoted O’Reilly’s return to its airwaves with zero shame about the number of women who’ve suffered at the hands of the network.)

    According to Ruddy, who has openly and proudly discussed courting O’Reilly before and has given him airtime already, this is the man whose analysis America needs “now more than ever.”

    Meanwhile, several lawmakers are planning to bring guests at the State of the Union who’ve spoken out about sexual harassment and assault. Will O’Reilly have anything to say about them?

  • Report: Women at Fox News are "stunned" and "disgusted" after Rupert Murdoch's dismissal of sexual misconduct at the network

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    According to a HuffPost report, “current and former female Fox News employees” were left “stunned, disgusted and ‘hungry for justice’” after Fox News executive chairman Rupert Murdoch’s comments downplaying the sexual harassment culture at Fox as “all nonsense.”

    Murdoch said during a December 14 interview with Sky, that the reported complaints about rampant sexual harassment at Fox News were “all nonsense” and reflected only “isolated incidents.”

    According to HuffPost many of the women who said they faced harassment at Fox were outraged by the comments. Ten women, both current and former employees, explained that Murdoch’s comments, “not only diminished the scandal that has plagued the network for over 17 months, it also virtually erased a flood of reports, terminations, forced resignations and settlements.”

    From HuffPost:

    Current and former female Fox News employees say they are stunned, disgusted and “hungry for justice” after media mogul Rupert Murdoch on Thursday dismissed allegations of sexual misconduct at the network as “nonsense” outside of a few “isolated incidents” with former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes.

    [...]

    For this story, HuffPost spoke with 10 current and former female Fox News staffers, all of whom are or were on-air talent and say they have faced harassment or assault by current and former Fox News executives and on-air talent. They said the comment by Murdoch, who controls the Fox News Channel along with his two sons Lachlan and James through 21st Century Fox, not only diminished the scandal that has plagued the network for over 17 months, it also virtually erased a flood of allegations, terminations, forced resignations and settlements.

    [...]

    “I have had to put up with a hostile work environment for years, and now I’m told that it doesn’t exist by a man who doesn’t have to walk these halls every day? I’m hungry for justice,” said one woman who is part of the network’s on-air talent.

    “Hey Rupert - stop with the lies or we’ll go public with the truth. All of it. Including about the talent and executives you still employ who have harassed us and don’t give a damn about workplace respect - only money,” said a woman who was previously a prominent member of Fox News’ on-air talent. “How much will it take before you actually start caring about your female employees? Is your 52 billion enough? Are we really going to clean house now?”

    Murdoch’s comment directly contradicts the public relations strategy of Fox News and 21st Century Fox, which has been to diligently tell reporters the era of Ailes, who died this year, and host Bill O’Reilly is over. Instead, the press reps say, Fox News has ushered in a new era of corporate responsibility and a workplace free of hostility and retaliation.

    [...]

    “I’m contacting a lawyer tomorrow,” said one Fox News host. “I’m sick of this shit."

    Murdoch’s claim that harassment was limited to former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes is demonstrably false, with allegations and settlements against Bill O’Reilly, Eric Bolling, Geraldo Rivera, and others coming to light since Ailes’ departure.

  • Rupert Murdoch says Fox News harassment stopped with Roger Ailes. He couldn't be more wrong. 

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Fox News executive chairman Rupert Murdoch reportedly said in a Sky interview that the network’s ongoing culture of sexual harassment was actually “all nonsense” and consisted simply of “isolated incidents.” Murdoch further asserted that the harassment at Fox was only perpetrated by former chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, and “there’s been nothing else since then.”

    Ailes was first publicly named for serial harassment in July 2016 when former Fox host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit detailing how Ailes and Steve Doocy -- the current co-host of Fox & Friends -- made “sexually-charged comments” and were “sexist and condescending” toward her, respectively. The lawsuit also said Ailes made “demands for sex as a way to improve her job standing.” At least 25 women have come forward with stories of Ailes’ misconduct and harassment. Ailes resigned 2 weeks later. Ailes’ pattern of behavior, spanning at least a decade, seems far worse than a series of “isolated incidents.”

    What’s more, since Ailes’ departure on July 21, 2016:

    • The New York Times reported that (now former) Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and/or Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox had made at least six settlements for sexual misconduct -- including one for an astounding $32 million.
    • Fox suspended and conducted an internal investigation into Fox Business host Charles Payne after frequent Fox guest Scottie Nell Hughes reported that Payne had coerced her into a years-long relationship “under threat of reprisals." Payne was later cleared by the internal investigation, but is now named in a lawsuit from Hughes alleging rape and retaliation by Payne.
    • Fox News suspended, then “part[ed] ways amicably” with co-host Eric Bolling amid an investigation into claims he sent “unsolicited photos of male genitalia to current and former female colleagues at the network.”
    • Newsweek wrote about public reports of misconduct by Fox News co-host Juan Williams when he worked at The Washington Post. Fox News hired him years after the harassment claims were public.
    • A video of Bette Midler’s interview with Barbara Walters in 1991 resurfaced in which Midler described Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera assaulting her. Midler shared the video herself, and reiterated her story, also saying Rivera never apologized. The video’s resurfacing coincided with Rivera publicly defending reported harassment and assault by former NBC host Matt Lauer. The following day, Fox News said it was “troubled” by Rivera’s comments and Rivera later tweeted apologies about his statements, as well as a (sort-of) apology to Midler.

    So it sure seems like there’s been some other things since Ailes left!

    This isn’t the first time lately Fox has tried to congratulate itself on handling sexual harassment complaints lately. It’s just the most bizarre.

  • Geraldo Rivera, accused of sexual assault, has a history of downplaying sexual misconduct

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE & GRACE BENNETT

    A recently resurfaced 1991 interview between Barbara Walters and actress Bette Midler included Midler's revelation that Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera reportedly sexually assaulted her at one point in the 1970s. This episode, for which Midler says Rivera has never apologized, typifies the disgraceful way the long-time Fox star has dealt with sexual harassment and assault throughout his career.

  • Sean Hannity's extensive history of undermining women who report sexual misconduct and defending the men accused

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE, JULIE ALDERMAN & DINA RADTKE


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Fox News host Sean Hannity has become a reliable ally for powerful men accused of sexual assault and harassment, regularly using his platform to discredit women who report sexual misconduct and cast doubt on their complaints. Here is a look back on the ways Hannity has attempted to undermine these women and defend the men who have been reported.

    Roy Moore

    Eight women have said Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, a former judge of Alabama Supreme Court, sexually harassed or assaulted them, or had relations with them, when they were teenagers. The Washington Post first reported on November 9 that Leigh Corfman was 14 years old when Moore made sexual advancements toward her, and a number of women have since come forward with similar claims.

    Hannity: Many women who report sexual harassment “will lie to make money.” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity: “Then you have false allegations that are made, and -- how do you determine? It's ‘He said, she [said].’" [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity: “How do you know if it's true? How do we -- what's true? What's not true? How do you ascertain the truth?” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity: “We do have Ten Commandments. One of the commandments is ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness.’ We know human beings break, with regularity, the other nine commandments. Did they break this one?” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity: “But then also, are there false allegations? And when it's ‘he said, she said’ or whatever, how do you tell the difference?” [Premiere Radio Networks, Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity invoked the Duke Lacrosse team case; Michael Brown, who was shot by a white cop in Ferguson, MO; George Zimmerman, who fatally shot Trayvon Martin; and Freddie Gray, who was killed in police custody to suggest there’s a history of accusers lying. [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity: The “swamp,” “the sewer,” and the “establishment” are out to get Moore. [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity: The Wash. Post “hates anything Republican, anything conservative.” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Roger Ailes

    In July 2016, former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Roger Ailes, the now-deceased former Fox News CEO, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation against her when she would not have “a sexual relationship with him.” An additional 25 women also came forward with similar accusations. Reports later detailed startling revelations of Ailes’ attempts to cover up his sexual misconduct by spying on employees and silencing his accusers.

    Hannity to Carlson: “Why did you stay after such ‘harassment’ asking for more airtime?” [Twitter, 7/13/16]

    Hannity about Carlson: “Why did [Carlson] send handwritten notes with smiley faces asking for more airtime after the ‘alleged’ traumatic incident?” [Twitter, 7/13/16]

    Hannity attacked accusations levied by Carlson as coming from a “publicity seeking” attorney. [Twitter, 7/9/16]

    Hannity: “Hundreds of woman (sic) at Fox that I talked to” said all allegations against Ailes are “BS.” [Twitter, 7/9/16]

    Hannity: “I have spoken to many woman (sic) who work at Fox that have the most amazing stories of how kind Roger is to them.” [Twitter, 7/9/16]

    Hannity to Gabriel Sherman who reported on Ailes: “U r an Ailes and Fox stalker.” [Twitter, 7/13/16]

    Donald Trump

    In 2016, at least 20 women accused then-candidate Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, including 12 nonconsensual physical encounters. In October 2016, The Washington Post reported on a video clip in which a hot microphone caught Trump bragging to Billy Bush, then of Access Hollywood, “in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women.”

    Hannity shrugged off accusations against Trump, arguing, “King David had 500 concubines for crying out loud!” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/7/16]

    Hannity suggested that one of Trump’s accusers may have “welcome[d]” the sexual assault.  [Media Matters, 10/13/16]

    Hannity mocked one of Trump's accusers: “Donald Trump groped me on a plane. It was all right for the first 15 minutes, but then he went too far.” [Media Matters, 10/14/17]

    Hannity on Trump accusers: “Just saying ‘help’ would solve the problem.” [Media Matters, 10/20/17]

    Hannity called accusations of sexual assault against Trump “an attempt to neutralize the WikiLeaks revelations,” referring to the stories generated from hacked Democratic emails.  [Media Matters, 10/13/16]

    Bill O’Reilly

    On April 1, The New York Times reported that former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company, paid out at least $13 million in settlements with five women who said O’Reilly harassed them.

    Hannity gave O’Reilly a platform on his shows multiple times to attack the women who reported him. [Media Matters, 9/26/17, 10/5/17]

    Hannity hosted disgraced former Fox host O’Reilly after he was fired from the network. [Media Matters, 9/25/17]

    Clarence Thomas

    In 1991, Anita Hill, who worked as a former aide to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his time at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “submitted a confidential statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee alleging that Thomas had sexually harassed her 10 years earlier,” according to CBS News. At least two other women also accused Thomas of sexual assault.

    While interviewing Thomas, Hannity referred to his accusers as “those that systematically went about destroying you.” [FoxNews.com, 10/3/07]

    Hannity implied that Thomas was “an innocent man” who had had “his reputation destroyed forever.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 11/10/17]

    Hannity has praised Thomas for “giving one of the most powerful defenses” against sexual assault accusations. [Fox News, Hannity, 11/10/17]

    Herman Cain

    In 2011, at least two women reported that Herman Cain, who was at the time a candidate in the Republican presidential primaries, had sexually harased them during his tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.

    Under a screen graphic that read “Herman hysteria,” Hannity questioned whether the charges were “politically motivated,” and badgered an accuser for “staying in the car” with Cain after she says she was harassed. [Media Matters, 11/11/11]

    Hannity sought to discredit accusations against Cain and Justice Clarence Thomas, parroting their characterization of the charges as a “high-tech lynching.” [Politico, 11/10/11]

    Hannity on Cain’s press conference denying sexual harassment accusations: “You would think this is going to end it.” [Media Matters 11/9/11]

    Bill Shine

    After Ailes was ousted in August 2016 amid mounting sexual harassment allegations, Fox News promoted Bill Shine to co-president of the network. As senior executive vice president, Shine had reportedly “played an integral role” in covering up sexual harassment claims, including those against Ailes. Shine had a role in pushing “women into confidential mediation [and into] signing nondisclosure agreements in exchange for their contracts to be paid” as well as in establishing a “counter-narrative” to discredit Carlson. He later resigned after reports surfaced that he was cited “in at least four lawsuits” that accused him of ignoring, dismissing, and even concealing sexual harassment allegations against Ailes.

    Hannity: “Somebody HIGH UP AND INSIDE FNC is trying to get an innocent person fired.” [Twitter, 4/27/16]

    Hannity: If Shine is fired, “that’s the total end of the FNC as we know it.” [Twitter, 4/27/16]

    Hannity: “#Istandwithshine.” [Twitter, 4/27/16]

  • CNN hosted an astounding and heartbreaking town hall about sexual harassment last night

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Hours after at least three new reports of sexual misconduct by high-profile men were published, CNN’s Alisyn Camerota hosted a powerful town hall conversation on sexual harassment in America. CNN’s decision to devote an hour of prime-time television news to lifting up survivor voices and engaging in thoughtful conversations with a live audience is commendable, and it’s the sort of thing viewers ought to see more often on cable news.

    CNN’s town hall, titled Tipping Point: Sexual Harassment in America, was a model for the ways national news commentary can address a cultural moment by providing the public with facts and context, while also approaching a tough subject with responsibility and empathy.  

    It began with discussions with law professor Anita Hill, actress Jessica Barth, former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, and former Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA) -- all women who have reported sexual harassment by men in the public eye.

    Barth told The New Yorker last month about a 2011 incident in which Harvey Weinstein demanded she give him a naked massage during a business meeting. She is also currently pursuing charges against producer David Guillod for sexual assault. Barth shared with a national television audience her decision to come forward publicly:

    ALISYN CAMEROTA: Why do you think that so many people are reluctant to now talk about this in this sort of public forum?

    JESSICA BARTH: It’s scary. I think there’s a lot of fear that comes with it, as what we just read about Harvey Weinstein and his ties with the [private intelligence firm] Black Cube. There’s a lot of fear. There’s shame with speaking out, and I think part of the process in moving forward is to try to alleviate that shame. I think women who have a story and need to speak out can look at the media right now -- I don’t know how it’s going to be in the future -- but right now it seems to be that the media is a powerful tool in getting justice and for these perpetrators to get consequences.

    Hill, who testified in 1991 that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her, spoke about her hopes that the current #MeToo moment would lead to greater examination of systems that allow for serial sexual harassment and to a better public understanding of sexual harassment happening every day in all industries:

    CAMEROTA: Professor, from where you sit, 26 years later, after your testimony, do you feel like we’re at a tipping point right now?

    ANITA HILL: I absolutely do. You know, I’ve been in this for 26 years now, and I’ve seen stories come and go, and some of them are quite powerful. I’ve seen movements come and go, and some are quite powerful. I’ve not seen something like this. And I’m hoping that not only will it bring lasting change, but I’m really hoping in two areas, in particular, that change comes. One, that we start looking at how harassment and harassing behavior is enabled, and all the, really, structures and people who are complicit in making sure that harassment either continues or gets disguised. And that’s one of the things that we can clearly learn from the Harvey Weinstein story -- that every day there are revelations about who was helping him and who was covering it and who was being used to attack women who came forward to accuse.

    The other thing that I hope is that the believability factor gets transferred, and that it gets transferred to people, again, outside of Hollywood, but also to women who have been marginalized on this issue for years. Part of the response to me had to do with my race. There are people who are not believed, not because their stories aren’t true or credible, but because there’s a certain kind of skepticism that comes with all kinds of identity factors, whether it’s sexuality or race or class. And so we tend to think about Hollywood, and I want us to understand that this is -- sexual harassment, sexual assault is something that happens to women of all races, all ages, all sizes, all backgrounds, religions. And until we can believe all women, every woman’s voice has value, none of us, really, will be seen as equal.

    Hill’s words reflect the larger theme of the CNN town hall: Workplace sexual harassment is an all-too-common experience that transcends class, race, politics, and industries. For every woman like Gretchen Carlson or Anita Hill who was harassed by a powerful man and who spoke up and then lived through, in an incredibly public way, the world’s sometimes heartening and often heartbreaking reactions, there are countless other people whose painful stories will remain unheard.

    Camerota’s later conversations with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), activist Tarana Burke (who started the #MeToo movement), and others drove home this point. Questions from audience members -- often activists, some who had experienced sexual harassment themselves -- also underscored this message.

    A town hall, rather than a multiperson panel of pundits, was a great public service to viewers, in particular those who may have experienced sexual harassment in the past. If one tuned in and didn’t see her experience reflected in Carlson, perhaps she would in Burke, or in an audience member.

    Or perhaps she would see herself in the moments of this town hall that felt like conversations I have every day with my friends -- moments in which Camerota and Carlson acknowledged their camaraderie as women who experienced harassment and silencing at Fox News. Or in which Gillibrand described an incident of harassment she’d experienced and the audience reacted with recognition and empathy. Or in which Camerota closed out the show by sharing one of her own sexual harassment experiences and bringing on stage the woman who helped her when she reported it -- moments for which I am particularly grateful as a woman and a survivor, as well as a media researcher.

    Tipping Point: Sexual Harassment in America may have itself illustrated a tipping point in media: a time when a major news network spends an hour of prime time listening to the voices of activists and survivors and mostly women.