News of the toxic work environment for women at Fox News continues to unfold.
Eric Bolling, co-host of “The Specialists,” was suspended on Saturday following reports that he texted a picture of his genitalia to one colleague at Fox News and at least two colleagues at Fox Business. The texts were unsolicited.
“Eric Bolling has been suspended pending the results of an investigation, which is currently underway,” Fox News, part of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, said in a statement.
A report on the Fox News website referred only to “allegations of inappropriate behavior.”
HuffPost, citing more than a dozen sources in and out of Fox News and Fox Business, reported on Friday that the text messages were sent on multiple occasions several years ago. The sources requested anonymity.
“One of the recipients said that when she replied to Bolling via text, telling him never to send her such photos again, he did not respond,” according to HuffPost.Four people, outside of the recipients, confirmed to the website that they’d seen the photo, and “eight others said the recipients had spoken to them about it.”
After Fox announced it was suspending Bolling, Caroline Heldman, a politics professor at Occidental College and frequent guest on the network from 2008 to 2011, claimed in a Facebook post that Bolling made an unspecified number of unsolicited sexual advances to her. Heldman said he called her “Dr. McHottie” on air on four different occasions, and called her “smart, beautiful, and wrong” on air twice.
She said Bolling would also “contact me via phone and text after shows, sometimes to apologize for his behavior (and then do it again), and sometimes just to talk. He said he wanted to fly me out to New York for in-studio hits and to have ‘fun.’ He asked me to have meals with him on several occasions, but I found excuses not to go.”
In regard to Heldman’s claims, a Fox News spokesperson told DiversityInc on Monday afternoon, “We are investigating this matter and all claims will be taken into account.”
This is the third high-profile harassment case to rock the conservative cable news outlet in a little over a year. In July 2016, sexual harassment allegations by women employees, including former anchor Gretchen Carlson, against Fox News co-founder and then-chairman, the late Roger Ailes, surfaced. He was forced to resign. Carlson’s suit was settled for $20 million.
“Bill, you’re my boss!” a former Fox News producer said in a lawsuit she told Bill O’Reilly when he propositioned her for sex.
Following a New York Times report in April, Fox Newsparted ways with star host Bill O’Reilly,who was also accused of sexual harassment, causingadvertisers to flee his show. The Times reported that O’Reilly and Fox had settled five harassment suits or complaints totaling more than $30 million. The accusations date back more than 10 years.
Both Ailes and O’Reilly denied wrongdoing. Fox replaced O’Reilly in the daily 8 p.m. primetime slot with“Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
In May the network presidentBill Shine resigned, but changes in the station’s executive leadership continue to offer more of the same.
President Donald Trump, who is an advocate for Fox News, had close ties with Ailes. Trump continues his ties with O’Reilly, whom he defended in April, andRupert Murdoch, 85, executive co-chairman of 21st Century Fox. Bolling, a former commodities trader, was alsoconsidered for a positionwith the Trump administration in the Department of Commerce.
Regarding the sexual harassment allegations against Bolling, his attorney, Michael Bowe, said in an email to Reuters, “the anonymous, uncorroborated claims are untrue and terribly unfair. We intend to fully cooperate with the investigation so that it can be concluded and Eric can return to work as quickly as possible.”
Previously, Bowe said in a statement to HuffPost that Bolling did not recall sending any inappropriate messages and would “vigorously pursue his legal remedies” to combat any false or defamatory accusations.
Bolling has worked at the Fox News and Fox Business networks since 2007. As co-host of the “The Specialists,” he is part of a panel discussing the top stories of the day. He also hosts “Cashin’ In,” a business show.
In May, whenAnthony Weiner, a former New York Democratic congressman,pleaded guilty to federal charges of sexting an underage girl, Bolling said,”[Weiner] is a sick human being, to continue to do this time and time again, continue to get caught, saying he’s not going to do it again, gets caught again.”
The allegations against Bolling are being investigated by the law firm Paul Weiss, which has conducted a series of investigations into harassment at the Fox network.
Bolling tweeted the following Monday morning:
Overwhelmed by all the support I have received. Thank you
I look forward to clearing my name asap
Eric Bolling (@ericbolling) August 7, 2017