Stop me if you heard this headline before: “A Fox News host is suing the company for sexual harassment.” Yes, it’s happening again. This time, it’s Fox Nation host Britt McHenry, who is filing a suit accusing another on-air personality, George “Tyrus” Murdoch of sexual harassment.
According to the complaint, filed in New York, the network “retaliated” against McHenry after she filed a sexual harassment complaint against Murdoch. Fox claims to have investigated that complaint, but McHenry’s suit calls those investigations “shams.” Here’s what McHenry had to say: “I had to stand up for what’s right for myself and for women… The last thing I wanted to do was file this lawsuit.”
McHenry alleges that Murdoch sent her “sexually suggestive” messages in 2018 and that he also sexually harassed her in person, while she never reciprocated or encouraged that behavior. In the suit, she goes on to claim that she reported the behavior, filing a complaint to both Fox News and the New York State Division of Human Rights. In response, McHenry claims the company “retaliated” by giving her “far fewer professional opportunities” for advancement or show appearances, though she continues to host her Fox Nation program.
Fox countered by launching investigations and claiming that they had suggestive photos sent to Murdoch by McHenry, but the latter says those pics were faked, claiming, “A simple Google search shows that the first image was taken from a website… not Ms. McHenry.” In addition, McHenry claims she “immediately offered to have a forensic expert examine her phone…” and says Murdoch refused to allow the same to be done on his phone.
A Fox News spokesperson essentially called the new lawsuit redundant, saying it covers the same ground the company already investigated. “Ms. McHenry’s allegations have been fully investigated, and we are confident our actions will be deemed entirely appropriate… We expect all of her claims to be dismissed.”
Strong statements on both sides. As of this writing, the decision has not yet been made in court. Regardless of the outcome, both sides should already be preparing statements, should the case go either way.
Given that this is definitely not the first high-profile sexual harassment case related to Fox News, the company brand will take a hit just because it’s in the headline. Opponents will take the opportunity to make hay regardless of the eventual outcome. This is a factor Fox News representatives should keep in mind when crafting their responses. Fair or not, McHenry’s allegations sound potentially more plausible just because we’ve heard similar situations before.