Investigators Look to Others at Fox News ; Inquiry Seeks to Find out If Executives Failed to Act on Alleged Harassment

By Jim Rutenberg; Ben Protess | International New York Times, August 5, 2016 | Go to article overview

Investigators Look to Others at Fox News ; Inquiry Seeks to Find out If Executives Failed to Act on Alleged Harassment


Jim Rutenberg; Ben Protess, International New York Times


Investigators are examining whether executives failed to report any improper behavior, people briefed on the inquiry said.

Investigators looking into sexual harassment accusations against the former Fox News chairman, Roger Ailes, are also examining whether other executives knew of alleged improper behavior by Mr. Ailes and failed to act on it, people briefed on the inquiry have said.

The investigation, focused narrowly on accusations against Mr. Ailes, has not broadened into a comprehensive look at the workplace culture at Fox News, these people said. But investigators will pursue information presented in interviews about others at the company who might have effectively enabled Mr. Ailes's reported behavior.

The inquiry is continuing, these people said on Wednesday, with more current and former Fox News employees scheduled for interviews. As of last week, nearly 20 women had reported inappropriate behavior by Mr. Ailes, according to one of the people. The accounts, though unverified, led the leadership of 21st Century Fox, Fox News's parent, to determine that Mr. Ailes could not stay on, this person said.

The investigation by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison began on July 6, the day that Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox News anchor, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Mr. Ailes. Mr. Ailes, who denied the allegations, stepped down on July 21.

A 21st Century Fox spokeswoman declined to comment, but on Tuesday said in a statement that the law firm "remains counsel to us and is dealing with any and all issues as they arise."

Scrutiny of Mr. Ailes's behavior and Fox's operations increased last Friday with an article in New York magazine about the experiences of a former booker, Laurie Luhn, who said that Mr. Ailes had harassed her and subjected her to "psychological torture." In the article, she tells of Mr. Ailes's using company resources and staff members, including Bill Shine, Mr. Ailes's deputy, to facilitate the relationship. Mr. Shine, who is now part of the interim management team at Fox News, has told associates that he did not know Mr. Ailes was having a relationship with Ms. Luhn.

The New York Times spoke to more than a dozen women for an article published last month, who told of being harassed by Mr. Ailes or other managers and suggested there was a broader culture of harassment and intimidation in the workplace.

Later on Wednesday, 21st Century Fox reported its quarterly earnings, and Lachlan Murdoch, the executive chairman, began a conference call with analysts by addressing the situation at Fox News.

"Throughout this process we have moved quickly and decisively to protect the business, to protect its employees and to protect the unique and important voice Fox News broadcasts," he said. …

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