A petition launched by non-profit Media Matters calls on Lachlan Murdoch, the executive co-chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox, and James Murdoch, 21st Century Fox’s CEO, to release the findings of a recent internal review of sexual harassment claims against Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes and demonstrate at last that they take sexual harassment seriously.
Last month, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Ailes in which she alleges having suffered 11 years of sexual harassment in the workplace and accused Ailes of “ostracizing, marginalizing and shunning her after making clear to her that these ‘problems’ would not have existed, and could be solved, if she had a sexual relationship with him.” Carlson’s complaint was only the first of many. In recent weeks, no fewer than 25 other women—including top anchor Megyn Kelly—have come forward and described similar experiences. The latest is Andrea Tantaros, who issued a statement that she had reported Ailes’ sexual harassment to her supervisors in 2015. Instead of offering an apology or making any attempt at improve the conditions of Tantaros and the other female employees, Tantaros reported, Fox responded by taking her off the air entirely.
Ailes was also not the only man at Fox News to display unapologetic misogyny toward his female co-workers. Fox and Friends co-host Steve Doocy, Carlson revealed, also regularly addressed her with rude and suggestive comments. When Carlson reported his “sexist and condescending” behavior to Ailes, he responded by accusing her of being a “man-hater.”
After Carlson and Tantaros stepped forward, Fox accused the women of lying in a retaliation attempt but then conducted an internal review of the sexual harassment claims—but such public accusations fail to inspire confidence in its objectivity. The prevalence of such cases are clearly symptomatic of underlying and disturbing misogyny on the network, consistently evident both on-air and, all signs indicate, off. Reports like those of both Carlson and Tantaros, which highlight the way in which the network has consistently failed to take sexual harassment claims seriously, indicate too that Fox may not be trusted to correctly review such complaints—as is Ailes’ current position. Although he stepped down as CEO at the end of last month, 21st Century Fox took him on immediately as a “consultant” – with a financial compensation of $60 million.