Yesterday, in an interview with the his own British TV station, Sky TV, Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch dismissed allegations of rampant sexual assault and harassment at his American network as “a bit of flirting.”
That didn’t sit well with the women who have to suffer through the Fox News work environment, and they are saying so in no uncertain terms.
HuffPo’s Yashar Ali interviewed ten women, all of whom work or worked as on-air talent at the cable news network, and he writes that they were “stunned, disgusted and ‘hungry for justice.’”
In the Thursday interview, Murdoch told host Ian King:
“All nonsense, there was a problem with our chief executive [Ailes], sort of, over the years, isolated incidents. As soon as we investigated it he was out of the place in hours, well, three or four days. And there’s been nothing else since then. That was largely political because we’re conservative. Now of course the liberals are going down the drain — NBC is in deep trouble. CBS, their stars. I mean there are really bad cases and people should be moved aside. There are other things which probably amount to a bit of flirting.”
“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?” said one current employee. “I’m hungry for justice.”
A former employee blast the idea that the problem was even remotely resolved, lamenting to Ali that “talent and executives [are still employed there] who have harassed us and don’t give a damn about workplace respect – only money.”
As to Murdoch’s claim that the complaints “amount to a bit of flirting,” former Fox News reporter Lauren Sivan was incensed.
“What kind of company pays close to 100 million dollars to keep ‘flirting’ quiet?” Sivan said.
Another current Fox News host echoed the sentiment:
Did this man just forget the 100 million dollars his company had to pay in settlements for terrible men behaving badly? He now says it was a bit of “flirting” and an issue related to the fact that Fox News has conservative hosts? Sexual harassment has nothing to do with politics. Many of us are conservative and want the truth to come out. Those of us who still work at Fox News have anxiety issues every time we see another woman coming forward with stories we have all lived through but have never shared.
On its face these are good questions. But the truth is that it’s horrific that such questions even need to be asked. Murdoch’s assertion that the valid accusations of dozen of women are trivial is disgraceful and Murdoch should be ashamed to utter the words.
The #MeToo movement has finally brought this despicable behavior out of the shadows, and it’s on all of us to ensure that it is not buried again.