While the Murdoch goons at the Baby Shard bunker concentrate their efforts on shamelessly backing the Tories in the General Election campaign, and try to take their minds off the continued rumblings of bad behaviour - which we now know includes not just phone hacking, but illegal blagging - the empire of Don Rupioni has been shaken once again by the kind of revelations that could derail the all-important Sky bid.
One hurdle that Rupert Murdoch, together with sone James and Lachlan, will have to surmount is the “Fit and proper person test”. The thought that James, who failed to distinguish himself during the phone hacking revelations, might not manage to clear that barrier has since receded. But the gathering sex assault and racism crises at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) look set to take out old Rupe.
FNC has had a torrid recent past. First came the sexual misconduct allegations against its founding head Roger Ailes, which led to his departure. Then came more sexual misconduct allegations against the network’s top-rated host Bill O’Reilly, and he, too, had to go. But those who thought the boil had been lanced were in for a rude awakening.
First came more sexual misconduct allegations: “Columnist, attorney, and former Fox News contributor Debbie Schlussel … accused Fox News Prime Time Host Sean Hannity of the same type of behavior that lead to Bill O’Reilly leaving the beleaguered network earlier this week … Schlussel claims that while at an appearance in Detroit which they both attended, Hannity invited her back to his hotel room … Schlussel says that after she turned down his advances, she was not invited back on his program”.
Hannity, an immodest professional loudmouth with much to be modest about, never matched Bill-O for ratings, but he is an established FNC host. And if he has been unable to deport himself in a grown-up and professional manner, one has to wonder how many more of the Fox roster have been abusing their positions at the network.
But yet more unpleasant revelations have been aired by Gabriel Sherman at New York magazine (it was Sherman who was on the money from the start with the O’Reilly story). “Next week, according to sources, seven black Fox News employees plan to join a racial-discrimination suit filed last month by two colleagues” he tells, going on to assert that FNC’s then comptroller Judy Slater “demanded that black female employees hold ‘arm wrestling matches’ with white female employees in her office”. Oh dear.
As Sherman notes, “The new claims, if true, reveal not just the failures of the legal and HR departments to deal with problematic managers but also just how deep the culture of discrimination and harassment may have run during Ailes’s reign”. And just for good measure, an attorney representing the employees has told Sherman “There will be more complaints forthcoming in the next few days”.
The link-up between Media Matters for America and Avaaz will no doubt ensure this news reaches the relevant authorities in the UK. How will the Murdoch mafiosi manage to pass that “Fit and proper person test” with Fox News in meltdown, and all those hacking and blagging allegations still unresolved? There’s a $64,000 question for you.