Just when he might have been hoping that attention would focus on the deal between his flagship company 21st Century Fox and the Disney organisation, Rupert Murdoch is finding it instead coming back to his own management, and his own failings. The old tyrant gave a broadcast interview which touched on inappropriate behaviour at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), was given the rope, and duly hanged himself.
Rupe had given his interview to Sky News, in which he holds a 39% share, but with the Disney deal appears to have given up on getting his hands on the rest. Here, he told that the problems at FNC were down solely to former head man Roger Ailes, and that, as the New York Daily News has reported, removing Ailes sorted the problem.
He was dismissive of suggestions to the contrary: “It’s all nonsense. There was a problem with our chief executive. Sort of, over the years. But isolated incidents. As soon as we investigated it, he was out of the place in hours - well, three or four days. And there’s been nothing else since then”. Moreover, it was nothing more than “flirting”.
Gretchen Carlson, in her Fox News days
Former Fox host Gretchen Carlson, who previously sued Ailes for harassment, was unimpressed: “.@rupertmurdoch: sexual harassment isn’t flirting, nonsense, largely political or isolated incidents. I’m calling on you to release all women who complained about harassment at Fox from secrecy agreements you forced them to sign and let the truth come out. Let the public decide”. Then came Tamara Holder.
She had been paid off by FNC and been forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement. But Murdoch had, she claimed, maligned her and so had nullified it. Her testimony, to Brian Stelter of CNN, was explosive: “He says there that were cases that amounted to flirting. Let me be clear. I had a man pull out his penis in his office and shove my head on it. That was not flirting. That was criminal. That was not sexual harassment. This is criminal. And I'm not the only case. There are just women who can't speak out”. There was more.
“I gave up my law practice to go to Fox News in New York, to work for Fox News, as a Democrat, to be a sports commentator, a legal commentator, all of those things. I wasn't planted by Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi. None of us were. We just wanted to work. And when we came out and spoke out, this had nothing to do with politics. This had to do with something that Mr. Murdoch knows every day. And that's called rights”. And more.
Tamara Holder - blowing the whistle on FNC
“My agreement said that I couldn't ever apply for a job at any Fox News corporation. I could never work for Fox News or any other place that Fox News owned. Here in Chicago, Fox News owns media entities, and - or 21st Century Fox. So I am now being punished, on top of not having a career in TV, I can't even apply for a job because he allowed me to be abused in his workplace and didn't protect me? And I can't work anywhere now?”
The NYDN also reminds readers “Former anchor Megyn Kelly also came forward with harassment allegations against Ailes, and Carlson’s lawyers claimed more than 20 women had said the same … Murdoch omitted mention of Bill O’Reilly, who got the boot from the network last spring after The New York Times revealed millions were paid out to settle similar allegations”. Murdoch’s interview has rebounded badly on him.
And he has revealed the sickness at the heart of his organisation. More on this later.