It looks like Fox News is about to get rocked with yet another sexual harassment lawsuit.
In June of this year, Fox News contributor and political commentator Scottie Nell Hughes came forward with allegations that a male anchor, Charles Payne, sexually assaulted her. Payne, who has worked for the network for years, denied the allegations in a statement. After an internal investigation, Fox News found no wrongdoing. Yet that’s far from the end of it according to Hughes, who has allegedly faced retaliation since coming forward.
In her account, instead of doing a real investigation, the network set out to clear Charles Payne’s name, blacklisted Hughes, and leaked a false story about a romantic affair between Payne and Hughes. And because of that, she’s filed suit against Fox News for “gender motivated violence, gender discrimination, retaliation and defamation.”
‘In her lawsuit, Ms. Hughes said that Mr. Payne had ‘pressured’ his way into her hotel room in July 2013 and coerced her to have sexual intercourse with him, even though she had refused his advances by telling him ‘no’ and ‘stop.’
‘According to the suit, Ms. Hughes was ‘shocked and ashamed’ and did not immediately report the incident. She said that over the next two years she was forced to engage in a sexual relationship with Mr. Payne. In exchange, she said, she received career opportunities, including increased appearances on Fox News and Fox Business and the promise that Mr. Payne would help her land a contributor contract, a job that can pay several hundred thousand dollars a year. Ms. Hughes never became a paid contributor at either channel.’
‘In July of 2013, I was raped by Charles Payne,’ Ms. Hughes said in an interview, referring to the allegations in her lawsuit. ‘In July of 2017, I was raped again by Fox News. Since then, I have been living an absolute hell.’
This is far from the only allegation of sexual misconduct to come at Fox News lately. Network head Roger Ailes was forced out in July of 2016 after facing allegations of harassment from several women, including Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly. Bill O’Reilly was forced out of the network after the New York Times broke a story detailing five settlements paid out since 2002 to silence women harassed by O’Reilly. And, most recently, Eric Bolling was forced out after an investigation following reports he sent unsolicited pictures of his genitals to female colleagues.
Multiple Fox News alumni have told stories of a misogynistic culture at Fox News, where women must wear dresses (or skirts), high heels, and sit under a clear desk for leering male approval:
‘Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny,’ declared a lawsuit filed by Fox anchor Andrea Tantaros alleging sexual harassment by Ailes and others.
‘And it isn’t just ‘The O’Reilly Factor.’ Compared to CNN and MSNBC, most of Fox News network’s female reporters, anchors and hosts are discernibly more dolled up than their competitors.’
‘It’s an antiquated vision of the working woman: She can bring home the bacon, as long as she never lets him forget he’s a man.’
How many lawsuits and settlements is it going to take for Fox News to change? Will it ever, or is it more likely to fall victim to shifting demographics first? Only time will tell.
Featured image via Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images