The news hasn’t been kind to Fox News lately.
As a messy sexual harassment scandal began unfurling last year, the television network and its corporate parent, 21st Century Fox, were battered with unflattering headlines. Besieged with employee suits alleging a systemic culture of sexual harassment and retaliation, the company had to spend $20 million last fall to settle claims from former star anchor Gretchen Carlson. Months earlier, Fox also had spent $40 million in a deal to dismiss network CEO Roger Ailes. Other sex-harassment cases against the company remain pending. But new ones keep coming. Most recently, the storm returned after The New York Times on April 1 reported that sex-harassment claims were piling up against Bill O’Reilly, host of the news channel’s most popular show. The network has paid five women a total of $13million to settle their claims, the Times reorted.
Once again, Fox’s image took a beating. So did revenue: This time, advertisers left the channel to preserve their own reputations. As a high-profile law firm conducted an investigation on behalf of management, some news outlets reported O’Reilly could be ousted.
We can only imagine how challenging life is today in the Fox HR department.
We may not have to wonder. If one news report is true, HR leaders at 21st Century Fox took a bold step to change the company culture: they launched a training program that features a video that Americans have come to know well: The infamous “Access Hollywood”outtakes featuring host Billy Bush exchanging salacious banter with now-President Donald Trump.
The newspaper reported that Fox has shown the tape as a regular part of employee seminars warning against sexual harassment.
Hollywood Reporter said employee reaction has at times been incredulous: “There was an audible gasp in the room, like, ‘Can you believe this is happening?’”one tipster told the newspaper.