Fox News has a rough track record when it comes to sexual assault. Former CEO and longtime conspiracy monger Robert Ailes fell from power last summer after two dozen women stepped forward following an initial lawsuit brought forth by Fox News journalist Gretchen Carlson that accused the multi-millionaire of sexual harassment.
It turns out that Bill O’Reilly – conservative culture warrior extraordinaire – may occupy a similiar set of shoes as those of his former boss.
The ardent Ailes defender and host of the bombastic “O’Reilly Factor” was also apparently the subject of a sexual harassment incident at the family values-focused Fox News. Around the same time that the company’s top brass were navigating the PR nightmare caused by Ailes’ predatory behavior, the firm forged an agreement between a former Fox News personality that stepped forward to accuse O’Reilly of attempting to scuttle her career after she turned down his unwanted advances.
The New York Times obtained a letter from the lawyers representing Juliet Huddy – the recipient of O’Reilly’s alleged advances – detailing the purported harassment, which included phone calls in which O’Reilly shared sexual fantasies and produced sounds that made it seem as if was masturbating. The Fox News host also allegedly instructed Huddy to purchase sex toys, tried to forcibly kiss her, and answered the door wearing only his undergarments.
After meeting secretly behind closed doors, Fox News officials reached an agreement with Huddy that included a six-figure sum in exchange for silence and not filing a lawsuit.
Fox’s morally sanctimonious expectations of US society apparently don’t apply to its own corporate culture.