Rupert Murdoch, the executive co-chairman of 21st Century Fox, on Thursday downplayed the high-profile allegations of sexual misconduct at Fox News as “largely political,” saying they were probably made “because we are conservative.”
During an interview with Sky News, the British broadcast news outlet owned by 21st Century Fox, Murdoch was asked whether he felt the sex scandals that have rocked the network in recent years hurt its economic bottom line.
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“It’s all nonsense,” he said. “There was a problem with our chief executive, sort of over the year, isolated incidents.”
Murdoch was alluding to the ouster of Fox News co-president Bill Shine, who resigned from the network in May after a Fox News contributor sued him and former network chief Roger Ailes. Julie Roginsky, a former Democratic analyst for Fox News, alleged that Ailes sexually harassed her and that Shine failed to properly investigate the matter.
Murdoch on Thursday defended the company’s response to the allegation, pointing to its quick action on Shine. “As soon as we investigated, he was out of the place in hours. Well, three or four days,” he said. “And there has been nothing else since then.”
But he also cast allegations against the channel as politically driven.
“That was largely political because we are conservative,” Murdoch told Sky.
He also commented on the wave of sexual misconduct allegations flooding news outlets in recent months. “The liberals are going down the drain. NBC is in deep trouble. CBS, their stars,” he said, referencing the firings of network TV stars like “Today” host Matt Lauer and PBS host Charlie Rose, whose show was broadcast on CBS and was similarly dismissed over misconduct allegations.
Murdoch added that not all allegations should be treated equally, though.
“There are really bad cases and people should be moved aside,” he said. “There are other things — which probably amount to a bit of flirting,” he said.
A number of Fox News’ most prominent figures have faced accusations of sexual impropriety in recent years. Ailes, then one of the most powerful figures in media, resigned in July of 2016 after Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him.
Megyn Kelly, the former star Fox News anchor and current NBC host, said later that Ailes also harassed her. Ailes died in May of this year.
In April, leading primetime personality Bill O’Reilly, who hosted the most watched show on the network for years, left Fox News after a string of sexual misconduct allegations. Eric Bolling, who often substituted for O’Reilly on “The O’Reilly Factor,” left the network in the wake of a sexting scandal.