Rupert Murdoch on Thursday dismissed the idea that Fox News’s sexual harassment issues hurt the company, even though three of the most powerful men at the network were ousted amid such allegations.
“It’s all nonsense,” said Murdoch, executive co-chairman of 21st Century Fox. “. . . That was largely political because we are conservative.”
The 86-year-old media mogul made the remarks during an interview with Sky News about the Walt Disney Company buying most of 21st Century Fox.
Over the last couple of years, several top figures at Fox News were ousted over sexual misconduct allegations, including chief executive Roger Ailes, co-president Bill Shine and popular talk show host Bill O’Reilly. In addition, the company has paid millions of dollars in settlements.
“There was a problem with our chief executive, sort of over the years, but isolated incidents,” Murdoch said. “As soon as we investigated he was out of the place in hours. Well, three or four days. And there’s been nothing else since then.”
Ailes, who died in May, resigned from the company in July 2016 after being accused of sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed by former network anchor Gretchen Carlson, who claimed he pressured her for a sexual relationship in exchange for keeping her job as a program host. The network paid Carlson $20 million to settle her sexual harassment claims against Ailes in September 2016.
O’Reilly, one of the network’s most popular personalities, was ousted in April after several women accused him of sexual harassment. The next month, Shine resigned after being implicated in the Ailes harassment scandal. He was accused of ignoring or downplaying complaints about Ailes’s behavior.
During the Sky News interview, Murdoch mentioned other networks shaken by sexual misconduct scandals, though not in detail.
“There are really bad cases that people should be moved aside and there are other things, which probably amount to a bit of flirting,” Murdoch said, adding that the allegations shouldn’t have any effect on how investors viewed the company.
Matt Lauer, a longtime host on NBC’s “Today” show, was fired last month after an employee complained about “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” CBS fired newscaster Charlie Rose for “extremely disturbing and intolerable behavior” after eight women told The Washington Post that he “made unwanted sexual advances toward them.”
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