Jamie Horowitz, head of Fox Sports programming, was fired earlier this week after a sexual harassment investigation.
Horowitz was fired about a week after the commencement of a Fox investigation into sexual harassment in the sports division in which female employees were interviewed about his behavior. A woman confirmed with Sports Illustrated that she had been interviewed by human resources officials about Horowitz’s sexual harassment, and recounted an incident in which Horowitz tried to kiss her last year. “The hook,” she told the magazine, “was that he could get me more work.”
Patricia Glaser, the lawyer representing Horowitz, claimed that “at no point in [Horowitz’s] tenure was there any mention by his superiors or human resources of any misconduct, nor an inability to adhere to professional conduct.” But Fox disagreed—publicly and privately. “Mr. Horowitz’s termination was fully warranted,” Daniel Petrocelli, the lawyer representing Fox Sports, responded in a statement, “and his lawyer’s accusations are ill-informed and misguided.” Fox Sports President and CEO Eric Shanks said in an email sent to employees that “we are confident in this decision.”
Fox has been facing scrutiny over its handling of sexual assault allegations for years, with activism around the topic reaching a tipping point after the resignation of late Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes last July in response to former Fox news anchor Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit citing 11 years of sexual harassment and abuse which asserted that she had been fired for refusing Ailes’ sexual advances. Following this initial lawsuit, 25 other women then stepped forward to report being sexually harassed by Ailes. While Fox paid Carlson $20 million in a court settlement, Ailes was given $60 million as a “consultant” with the company after stepping down as CEO. As Fox initially responded to these allegations by accusing the women of lying and threatening to fire them, the hefty settlement more likely reflects the company’s prioritization of its reputation over the women Ailes abused.
Horowitz’s termination comes two months after the network ousted their top anchor, Bill O’Reilly, after decades of activism around a string of sexual harassment complaints against him.
Fox’s actions consistently prove its corporate desire to save face by perpetuating a workplace culture that is hostile to women. While the future of the Horowitz case is currently unclear, his prompt firing could signal a shift in Fox’s approach to these cases—one that is long past due.