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Opinion Fox News fires Ed Henry following sexual misconduct complaint

Fox News studios in the News Corporation headquarters building in New York on Aug. 1, 2017. (Richard Drew/AP)

Fox News on Wednesday morning announced the firing of Ed Henry, a co-host of the morning program “America’s Newsroom.” The action follows a quick succession of developments within Fox News: On June 25, said top network officials in a message to colleagues, the company received a complaint about alleged “sexual misconduct” by Henry “years ago.” An outside firm investigated the claims. “Based on investigative findings, Ed has been terminated,” reads the memo, authored by Fox News Media Chief Executive Suzanne Scott and President/Executive Editor Jay Wallace.

Henry joined Fox News in 2011 after a stint with CNN. He has played a number of roles at the network, including White House correspondent under the Obama administration; a co-host of “Fox & Friends Weekend”; and his gig on “America’s Newsroom,” where he worked alongside Sandra Smith.

In 2016 presidential cycle, Henry secured the plum assignment of covering the Hillary Clinton campaign, where he distinguished himself as a forceful questioner who pursued a media-averse candidate. (He also brought those interview skills to a memorable 2018 interview with then-Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.) But Henry didn’t last on that beat: In Touch magazine published an exposé on his 10-month extramarital affair with a Las Vegas hostess, supplemented by reporting on the same topic by the National Enquirer. Henry took a leave of absence for several months, and then-network chief Roger Ailes scolded the correspondent: “This raises serious questions about Ed’s lack of judgement, especially given his position as a journalist.”

Fox News was aggressive in framing Henry’s firing Wednesday as an outgrowth of internal reforms from January 2017, a tumultuous time at the network. Months prior to those reforms, former host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment suit against Ailes, and the litigation touched off a cascade of revelations about Ailes’s mistreatment of women, not to mention a corporate structure built to enable him. It also emerged that Bill O’Reilly, one of Fox News’s biggest stars, had been at the center of multiple settlements with women who’d brought claims of sexual harassment and mistreatment.

On this morning’s edition of “America’s Newsroom,” Smith announced, “A moment now for some news about the co-anchor of this program, Ed Henry. After a recent claim and investigation involving sexual misconduct in the workplace, Ed has been terminated from Fox News. In an internal memo to employees, Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and President and Executive Editor Jay Wallace addressed this very serious issue in an effort to bring full transparency to it and emphasized that we will continue to strive to maintain a safe and inclusive workplace for all employees. Rotating anchors will be sitting in with me until a replacement is named.”

New York attorney Douglas Wigdor told reporters in an email Wednesday morning that his firm is representing the victim in this incident, though he indicated that “we are not presently at liberty to share any further information.”

Until further information is shared, it’s difficult to place this instance in the context of Fox News’s history of sexual harassment and misconduct. What’s clear from Wednesday’s announcement is that the network was insistent on breaking its own news on Henry’s alleged misdeeds. There’ll be no soft, hush-hush departure for this fellow. “We will continue striving to maintain a safe and inclusive workplace for all employees,” says the memo from Scott and Wallace, striking a note at odds with some of the network’s programming.

UDPATE: Henry has responded via Twitter:

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