Ed Henry

Fox News/YouTube

Allegation of rape against Fox News host prompts Twitter conversation about workplace culture

'How many sexual assault and harassment suits have you settled in the last decade?'

 

Sierra Juarez

Internet Culture

Published Jul 20, 2020   Updated Jul 20, 2020, 8:46 pm CDT

This article includes details about violence and rape.

A former Fox News associate producer and a frequent guest of the network are accusing ex-host Ed Henry of rape in a lawsuit filed on Monday.

The suit alleges that Henry sexually abused and raped producer Jennifer Eckhart. The allegation comes only about a month after Fox News fired the host for “sexual misconduct.” In addition, reporter Cathy Areu, who was a guest on the network, alleged that Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Howard Kurtz, and Giano Caldwell sexually harassed her.

The lawsuit includes text messages and details about Henry allegedly calling Eckhart his “sex slave” and his “little whore.” Eckhart also said that he physically abused her, leaving her “bruised and battered with bloody wrists.” Eckhart says that Henry leveraged his power against the young producer in order to “groom” her.

Areu, who was hoping to one day reach full-time employment at the network, said hosts also manipulated her by wielding their power against her. She alleges that several hosts acted inappropriately with her while on the jobs and sent her sexually explicit text messages.

The women say that Fox News attempted to protect the abusers in order to save face.

“It is widely documented in the public record that Fox News has not only
cultivated and fostered sexual harassment and misconduct, but has consistently accepted and rewarded it,” the lawsuit reads.

Fox News released a statement saying that an outside law firm had already conducted an independent investigation into the allegations against Hannity, Carlson, Kurtz, and Caldwell. A Fox News spokesperson said that the network found that the allegations against them were “false, patently frivolous and utterly devoid of any merit.”

The network added that Eckhart and Areu could pursue the claims against Henry “directly with him,” saying that he was no longer employed with the newsroom.

“We take all claims of harassment, misconduct and retaliation seriously, promptly investigating them and taking immediate action as needed—in this case, the appropriate action based on our investigation is to defend vigorously against these baseless allegations,” a Fox News spokesperson said in a statement. “Ms. Areu and Jennifer Eckhart can pursue their claims against Ed Henry directly with him, as FOX News already took swift action as soon as it learned of Ms. Eckhart’s claims on June 25 and Mr. Henry is no longer employed by the network.”

Many Twitter users said they were unsurprised by the womens’ allegations.

“Who in the world could have predicted that known misogynists Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson also sexually abuse their employees? Definitely not me,” Twitter user @santiagomayer_ wrote.

The lawsuit also prompted a discussion of the workplace culture at Fox News, with some Twitter users pointing out the numerous allegations against hosts and reporters in the past. They said sexual harassment appears to be prevalent in the newsroom.

“Simple question for Fox News,” tweeted Joe Lockhart, the former U.S. press secretary. “How many sexual assault and harassment suits have you settled in the last decade and how many of your current talent are subject to NDA’s?”

Update 8:45pm CT, July 20: The article was updated to include a further quote from Fox News.

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H/T Daily Beast

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*First Published: Jul 20, 2020, 7:26 pm CDT