Fox News Sued for Blacklisting Commentator Allegedly Assaulted by Host

Political commentator Scottie Nell Hughes claims she was coerced into a sexual relationship with Fox Business’ Charles Payne and that her career suffered when she tried to end it.


lawsuit filed on Monday against Fox News alleges that the network blacklisted one of its guests after she accused a host of rape.

Political commentator Scottie Nell Hughes in July said that four years ago she was raped by Fox Business’ Charles Payne, host of “Making Money.” Payne was suspended while the network investigated the claims but returned on air this month.

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Fox Host Charles Payne Suspended Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations

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“In July 2013, while they were both in New York City to appear on a Fox program, Payne pressured his way into Ms. Hughes’s hotel room for a ‘private discussion,’” the suit states. “Tragically, Payne sexually assaulted and raped Ms. Hughes. Despite her clear refusal of his advances and telling him ‘no’ and to ‘stop,’ Payne forced her to engage in sexual intercourse against her will. Too shocked and ashamed to speak out, Ms. Hughes told no one about what happened.”

The suit alleges discrimination, retaliation, defamation, gender violence and aiding and abetting in violation of the New York State Human Rights Law.

Claims of evidence suggesting a consensual relationship came to light this summer amid Hughes’ accusations. Red Alert Politics, a conservative funded website, published three emails the outlet claimed were “verified by two sources,” allegedly written by Hughes and addressed to Payne. The sexually explicit emails portray the relationship as mutual:

“Do you know what I keep dreaming about.. You and I in the pool… My legs wrapped around your waste (sic) and you have me pressed up against the wall of the pool… Skin glistening and smelling of coconut…. You thrusting yourself deeper inside with each push… And your fingers grasping each of my cheeks,” one email reads.

“You are going to need every once (sic) of energy if we are ever given the chance of lots of time and no commitments,” a second one reads.

A third email says, “That is the ideal way to start a Saturday or any day for that matter”; according to Red Alert Politics, this is “describing them interacting in the morning.”

According to Monday’s lawsuit, Payne’s status allowed him to “coerce” Hughes into a sexual relationship. The filing states:

“What constitutes a consensual affair between adults in a relationship outside of the workplace is not the same as a relationship between a male employee in a position of authority and a female subordinate in the workplace. Payne used his position of power to pressure Ms. Hughes into submission.”

The nightmare only became worse when Hughes tried to hold the network accountable for its host’s actions, the suit states. After reporting the alleged crime to the network, “Fox responded with an appalling cruelty.”

“In July of 2013, I was raped by Charles Payne,” Hughes said in an interview with the New York Times. “In July of 2017, I was raped again by Fox News. Since then, I have been living an absolute hell.”

In addition to Fox News, the lawsuit names 21st Century Fox, its parent company; Dianne Brandi, Fox’s executive vice president, legal and business affairs; Irena Briganti, executive vice president of corporate communications for Fox News and Fox Business Networks; and Payne.

Hughes claims that this past July, Fox leaked information regarding her relationship with Payne to a reporter with the National Enquirer. Fox’s actions were “indefensible,” according to the suit: “Fox’s malicious decision to reveal her identity to the National Enquirer, knowing that she is a rape victim, exceeds the bounds of all decency.”

The leak was at the hands of Brandi and Briganti, according to the lawsuit, which says the women “issued a false narrative to The National Enquirer that Ms. Hughes was a participant in an affair with Payne” and “revealed Ms. Hughes’s identity to The National Enquirer.”

In addition to the humiliation Hughes faced after the story leaked, according to the lawsuit, Hughes began losing opportunities as soon as she cut ties with Payne. She appeared on Fox five times over the course of 10 months; previously, she appeared on air four or five times in one week.

“Eventually, she learned that Fox had blacklisted her,” the suit states.

Fox News has strongly defended Payne. In a statement to The Daily Beast the network called the lawsuit “bogus” and a “publicity stunt,” vowing to “vigorously defend this.”

Doug Wigdor, Hughes’ attorney, slammed the network’s response.

“Fox cannot spin its way out of this crisis — especially when only Fox is to blame for what happened,” he said, according to Deadline. “Regardless of the fact that the sexual assault and rape, as alleged, happened in 2013, the events exposing Fox’s liability exposure (as opposed to Payne) occurred less than two months ago when Fox Executives at the highest levels leaked Ms. Hughes’s name to a tabloid.”

“Sadly,” Wigdor added, “nothing has changed at Fox.”

Fox has been engrossed in a series of allegations of sexual assault, rape and cover ups over the last year that start at the very top. Accusations of sexual harassment against former chairman Roger Ailes, who passed away earlier this year, and former top personality Bill O’Reilly have also come out over the last year.

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  • Why is she reporting the alleged assault to Fox News Network and not the New York City Police Department? Or was that left out of the story?

    • And what’s his version of events? I’ll assume that he denies it but since that wasn’t included, we have to ask. Same for NYPD, NY District Attorney Office and Fox News–what do they say about the event, and for Fox, now the lawsuit?

    • According to the story, she “told no one” at the time, which is the norm in acquaintance rape situations. The related story here on this site — Fox Host Charles Payne Suspended Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations — contains more background info.

  • If you have been following this story, you know that there is more than this. It appears the two were carrying on a long term affair that only stopped when Payne’s wife discovered it. Once the story broke, Fox chose to support Payne over her. It seemed like a good business decision based on the information out there. Her only wok on Fox was on Payne’s show, which dried up when the affair became public. Several co-workers at Fox and Her previous employment labeled her a Climber who slept her way toward the top. Payne was not the only person she has been reported as having an affair with. Now, that she has been outed by Fix, she is claiming rape. I think if Payne wasn’t Black, she wouldn’t even be making this claim. Next she’ll claim how afraid she was of the”Big Black Man”. She feared fir her safety and that if her family. And, some poor Alt Right and Neo Nazis will come to the defense of the poor white woman, raped by the big black man.
    I don’t know why Diversity is giving this story oxygen. Apparently, it’s only to show Fox is a cesspool. Yes Fix is a cesspool. Now research these stories.
    The under current of this story is a play toward racist fears of Black Males. She was a married White Wiman, having an affair with a married Black Man. It went on for years, and was known amongst their coworkers. Once it became public, she claims she was raped. Wow, where have we Black Males heard this story before? Come on Man!

    • As I was reading this story, something wasn’t adding up for me. Thank you, J D smith, for the background info. Now it makes sense. I was wondering if this was a case of a white woman crying rape because that was the vibe that I was getting. I do know better than blaming the victim in a case of rape, but this kind of seemed like a case of sour grapes on her part. Four years? Now you come forward? I see that grannybunny said that this is the norm in acquaintance rape, but as I stated above, it didn’t sit right.

  • To be fair, your title should say allegedly raped by host. The individual has not been convicted of anything. The current wording creates legal exposure for you.

  • Reminds me of a story an old Washington Post columnist wrote in his book. As a boy growing up in the south, he had a friend who said his white girlfriend loved him & was not prejudiced at all. One day, the journalist & some friends snuck up on the boy making love to his white girlfriend, out in the woods. Just before they reached the couple, they began talking like a bunch of old white men. The girlfriend began screaming bloody murder & fighting like crazy, yelling “get him off of me, this black bastard is raping me!”.

  • I’m so sick of sick white women crying RAPE by a Black man! After the Cosby acquittal, these sluts need to shut their legs and mouths. As a Black lawyer who worked in corporate AmeriKKKA, the way white women climb the corporate ladder is spread eagle or on their knees. How many Black men have been lynched because of these lying sluts.

    • The usual, nasty, anti-white generalities from the usual, nasty, sexist racist – you’re probably not helping. But as a Black lawyer who worked in corporate AmeriKKKa, you maybe should have known that the kkkorrect term is “spread eagled”. I believe it may be what the grammarians kkkall a transitive verb. Also, the proper punctuation for a sentence of query, one that begins with “How many” is a question mark.

  • Unfortunately, there are some women and men who will try to sleep themselves to the top. Additionally then, some of the people in the power positions think that this is the norm and they begin to prey on subordinates and expect sexual services. I think it’s really sad. When you hear or read stories like this, you just don’t know who to believe. Was this women pressured into sexual favors in order to keep her job and then just kept it up? Did she feel like she didn’t have a choice? Or did she see this as an opportunity to get ahead?
    Years ago I worked in an office where a women slept with a manager to get ahead. He placed her into a higher position but she didn’t have the skill set to do the job. While he was there she was protected. When her protector retired and left the organization, she was exposed as the fraud that she was and had to leave the organization. Not sure what benefit her sleeping to get ahead really accomplished for her once she was exposed. How does your career recover from that? Not worth it in my book. Also – how do you look at yourself in the mirror knowing you got to a position because of sex instead of because of outstanding qualifications?

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