A lot of news coverage was devoted to the election in 2016. So much so, in fact, that some significant stories failed to get the coverage and attention they deserved. One of those stories, arguably, was the ousting of Roger Ailes, chairman and co-founder of Fox News. Ailes was fired over allegations that he had sexually harassed former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson, as well as other female employees.
A recently published story from the New York Times claims that Ailes was not the only powerful man at Fox News committing sexual harassment. The Times reported that just a few weeks after Ailes was ousted, the company settled a confidential sexual harassment suit against one of Fox News’ most notorious personalities, Bill O’Reilly.
The lawsuit was filed by a woman named Juliet Huddy, who was a longtime guest contributor to the network. She alleged that while working with him in 2011, O’Reilly tried to pursue a romantic relationship with her. His alleged actions included unwelcome touching and kissing, offers to take her on dates (which she felt compelled to accept) and even phone calls in which it sounded as though O’Reilly was masturbating.
When Huddy made it clear that she was not interested in a sexual or romantic relationship, O’Reilly allegedly retaliated by trying to derail her career. Ms. Huddy, through her attorneys, alleged similar actions on the part of Fox executive Jeff Abernethy.
Evidence of the low-profile lawsuit and subsequent settlement was sent anonymously to the New York Times, and the Times was able to verify the authenticity of the documents it received. Fox reportedly settled Ms. Huddy’s lawsuit for a high six-figure sum, just weeks after the climax of the Ailes controversy.
Sadly, workplaces that tolerate sexual harassment tend to encourage more of it. Therefore, it is unsurprising that more than one powerful man at Fox News has been accused of sexual harassment. Will others come forward with additional allegations? Only time will tell.