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21 Jul, 2020 03:41

Fox stars Tucker Carlson & Sean Hannity face sexual harassment allegations, as former host Ed Henry accused of rape in new lawsuit

Fox stars Tucker Carlson & Sean Hannity face sexual harassment allegations, as former host Ed Henry accused of rape in new lawsuit

America's ratings leader in cable news has been rocked by new allegations of sexual harassment, with the latest complaint against Fox News implicating its two biggest stars, in addition to accusing former host Ed Henry of rape.

A lawsuit filed on Monday in the US District Court in New York alleged that former Fox News contributor Cathy Areu was harassed by Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and two other Fox anchors, and that former Fox Business Network producer Jennifer Eckhart was sexually assaulted and raped by former news anchor Ed Henry.

The suit alleged that Carlson and another Fox host, Howard Kurtz, tried to get Areu to go to their hotel rooms in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Hannity was accused of humiliating Areu by offering any man in the studio $100 to take her out on a date. She said she was no longer invited back regularly to appear on Hannity's show after failing to play along. Carlson also retaliated, Areu claims, saying she was booked on his show only three times in 2019 after sidestepping his unwanted advances in December 2018.

Fox, however, said that a “comprehensive, independent investigation” found that all of Areu's claims against the company, Carlson, Hannity and Kurtz were “false, patently frivolous and utterly devoid of any merit.” 

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As for the charges against Henry, which are the most serious, Fox said it took swift action as soon as it learned of Eckhart's allegations. In the lawsuit, Eckhart accused Henry of forcibly handcuffing her in a hotel room, taking nude photos of her and raping her – and said she was fired a few months after notifying the company's human resources department of the attacks. A lawyer for Henry, Catherine Foti, denied the allegations against her client and said Eckhart had initiated a consensual relationship with him.

Carlson and Hannity currently have the two biggest shows at Fox – Carlson, in fact, set a record with the highest-rated show in cable news history in this year's April-June quarter. Henry was fired earlier this month following an internal probe into sexual misconduct in the workplace.

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Fox News is no stranger to sexual harassment claims, with previous episodes including a July 2016 suit against the channel's founder and CEO, Roger Ailes, by former host Gretchen Carlson. Ailes resigned later that month and died in May 2017. Fox also fired star host Bill O'Reilly in 2017 after multiple allegations of sexual harassment, while later in the same year former Fox News guest Debbie Schlussel said that she was no longer booked to appear on Hannity's show after declining to go to his hotel room in the early 2000s.

Amid the flurry of allegations in 2017, parent company 21st Century Fox shook up the outlet’s management, promoted a hotline for employees, and took other steps to overhaul the network's culture.

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