The sexual harassment scandals that rocked Fox News are not going away anytime soon. Neither the downfall of Roger Ailes nor the career damage to Bill O’Reilly could assuage the anger of the consumer marketplace or the fallout from advertisers fleeing the network.
After the dismissal of O’Reilly and the failed boycott of Sean Hannity, it looked for a time like the heat was moving off Fox. Not so fast. The investors hadn’t yet had their say. And, now that they’re talking, things are not getting any easier for the powers that be at Fox News.
According to CNN, CtW Investment Group is “pressuring 21st Century Fox to add more women to its board…” First on the agenda of this expected new board? Conduct a “thorough review” of company culture.
In a letter sent to Fox, which was printed, in part, by CNN and other media outlets, CtW said: “The magnitude of the sexual and racial harassment crisis demonstrates a tone at the top that is permissive of unethical behavior…”
Subsequent to that missive, CtW is saying they believe the company needs an overhaul at the top, including the resignation of director Roderick Eddington. “He clearly failed in his risk oversight responsibilities as demonstrated by significant financial settlements of sexual harassment allegations that occurred prior to 2016…”
When a company with “substantial” investments in its holdings goes on the record demanding this kind of overhaul, it puts the company in a precarious position. If they clean house at the top, they have to, at least tacitly, agree to some or all of the allegations motivating the demands.
If they don’t agree, the company looks, to the public, like it condones the alleged behavior, which in addition to sexual harassment, includes cover-ups and other systemic problems with leadership relating to employees. Meanwhile, the US Department of Justice continues its investigation into the alleged misconduct.
Whatever the company decides to do, there are currently a lot of eyes watching, waiting to spread the news, and add their spin to the message.
Some believe Fox telegraphed their hopes that they can put all this quickly behind them when they invited Bill O’Reilly back to chat with Sean Hannity about his new book. Others say that was nothing more than a prominent author stopping by on his book tour.
Regardless of who interpreted that move correctly, Fox has yet to make a public move in response to the investors’ challenge, nor has the company made any more leadership moves since the letter was made public.