Backlash is building against Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, who said during a Thursday interview that sexual harassment allegations against Fox News staffers were “all nonsense.”
Murdoch spoke on an interview with his majority owned Sky News, addressing the Disney purchase of his company and the multiple sexual misconduct claims against some of his Fox News team, which have resulted in claims of at least $58 million in settlements and legal costs to date. Fox News is not part of the Disney purchase of 21st Century Fox assets.
When Sky News host Ian King asked Murdoch how harmful the allegations have been, Murdoch said, “That’s all nonsense,” and said CEO Roger Ailes was the only Fox News figure implicated.
21st Century Fox released a statement: “Rupert never characterized the sexual harassment matters at Fox News as ‘nonsense.’ Rather, he responded negatively to the suggestion that sexual harassment issues were an obstacle to the company’s bid for the rest of Sky. Under Rupert’s leadership and with his total support, the company exited Roger Ailes, compensated numerous women who were mistreated; trained virtually all of its employees; exited its biggest star; and hired a new head of HR. By his actions, Rupert has made it abundantly clear that he understands that there were real problems at Fox News. Rupert values all of the hard-working colleagues at Fox News, and will continue to address these matters to ensure Fox News maintains its commitment to having a work environment based on the values of trust and respect.”
Murdoch claimed he quickly fired Ailes within hours when he learned of sexual misconduct allegations against him. “And there’s been nothing else since then.” The time period was actually more than two weeks, with former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson suing Ailes for sexual harassment on July 6 and Ailes resigning on July 21. During that time, seven other women, including host Megyn Kelly, stepped forward with similar accusations against Ailes.
Since that period, Bill O’Reilly was similar accused of sexual misconduct and fired amid allegations from five women, resulting in $13 million in payouts.
“That was largely political, since we’re conservative,” he said of the overall accusations. “Of course, [now] all the liberals are going down the drain. NBC’s in deep trouble. CBS, their stars.”
Of other allegations of sexual misconduct among the vast number of media, Hollywood, political and business people, Murdoch said, “There are really bad cases, where people should be moved aside, and there are other things, which probably amount to a bit of flirting.”