Robert Murdoch attempted to downplay Fox Newsâ alleged culture of sexual misconduct as limited to âisolated incidentsâ with former CEO Roger Ailes â a characterization that was met with fierce criticism from the women on the media mogulâs payroll who say they were victimized by employees of Fox News. Now his media empireâs PR department is attempting to spin his comments ahead of 21st Century FoxâsÂ $52 billion sale to Disney.
Murdoch denied that the numerous allegations of sexual misconduct damaged the Fox News Channel, which was not part of the Disney sale, during an interview with Sky News host Ian King when discussing the blockbuster deal.
âAll nonsense, there was a problem with our chief executive [Ailes], sort of, over the years, isolated incidents,â Murdoch said during the Sky News interview.
âAs soon as we investigated he was out of the place in hours â well, three or four days. And there has been nothing else since then. That was largely political because we are conservative. The liberals are going down the drain â NBC is in deep troubleâŚ There are really bad cases and people should be moved aside. There are other things â which probably amount to a bit of flirting.â
Murdoch ignored the fact that the conservative news channelâs former prime-time host Bill OâReilly was ousted after it was revealed he made $13 million in settlements for sexual harassment lawsuits, host Eric Bolling sent lewd text messages to female colleagues, and multiple women alleged being sexually harassed by colleagues. Ailes, who died earlier this year, was fired after he allegedly told former host Gretchen Carlson she needed to âget along with the boysâ after she complained about the conduct of her former Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy. Carlson received a $20 million settlement.
Murdochâs comments received backlash fromÂ 10 current and former female Fox News on-air talents who claimed they were harassed or assaulted by network executives or fellow talents, according to a HuffPost report. Those women, who asked to remain anonymous, described their reaction to Murdochâs comments asÂ âstunned,â âdisgusted,â and âhungry for justice,â according to HuffPost.
âI have had to put up with a hostile work environment for years, and now Iâm told that it doesnât exist by a man who doesnât have to walk these halls every day? Iâm hungry for justice,â one woman said.
21st Century Fox, which is being sold to the Disney Channel, attempted to spin Murdochâs comments, claiming he was denying the sexual harassment issues played a role in the Disney sale as it relates to the uncertain future of Sky News.
However, that spin was apparently unconvincing to the on-air talent of the network who shared their grievances about Murdochâs comments with HuffPost.
Contrary to Murdochâs claim that sexual harassment within Fox News was contained to Ailes, one woman told HuffPost that there are still sexual harassers employed by the network. âHey Rupert â stop with the lies or weâll go public with the truth. All of it. Including about the talent and executives you still employ who have harassed us and donât give a damn about workplace respect â only money,â said a woman who was previously a member of Fox Newsâ on-air talent.Â âHow much will it take before you actually start caring about your female employees? Is your 52 billion enough? Are we really going to clean house now?â
This article was originally published at ThinkProgress on December 16, 2017. Reprinted with permission.Â
About the Author:Â Danielle McLean is an investigative reporter at ThinkProgress.