Fox News’s chief Washington correspondent James Rosen abruptly parted ways with the network at the end of 2017 with little fanfare after a nearly 20-year career. Now, NPR reports that Rosen’s departure came amid sexual harassment allegations from some of Fox News’s female journalists.
NPR’s David Folkenflik confirmed details of the accusations with eight of Rosen’s former Fox News colleagues:
According to Rosen’s former colleagues ... he had an established pattern of flirting aggressively with many peers and had made sexual advances toward three female Fox News journalists, including two reporters and a producer. And his departure followed increased scrutiny of his behavior at the network, according to colleagues.
Rosen tried to forcibly grope or kiss co-workers, sources told NPR. None of the women were identified in the report, and NPR verified their accounts with colleagues who were aware of the inappropriate encounters. One incident occurred as far back as the winter of 2001, when Rosen allegedly groped the breasts of a female journalist in a cab. After she turned down his advances, he allegedly tried to poach some of her sources.
A female producer also accused Rosen of sexual harassment, and another female journalist alleged Rosen tried to forcibly kiss her in an elevator after she refused his first advances.
The women involved in the incidents did not comment directly to Folkenflik. Rosen also declined to comment to NPR. (Vox reached out to Fox News for comment but has not yet heard back.)
Fox News comes under scrutiny again
Sexual harassment allegations have rocked major networks and publications across the industry, ushering in the abrupt ousters of high-profile media figures.
Rosen isn’t the only journalist facing scrutiny this week — the Washington Post suspended reporter Joel Achenbach for 90 days for “inappropriate workplace conduct” allegedly involving female journalists.
But the accusations against Rosen refocus some attention on Fox News. The cable news network has wrestled with the fallout from several high-profile misconduct allegations in recent years, along with the revelations that Fox News was aware of misconduct and had contributed to payouts for some of the women.
Fox News’s powerful chief and mastermind Roger Ailes was ousted from the network after host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes in July 2016. She and multiple other women came forward with allegations against him. Then last April, Fox News lost one of its marquee names when host Bill O’Reilly was forced out following an advertising boycott after the New York Times revealed a series of settlements, totaling $13 million, with women over sexual harassment allegations. (It was later reported to be six settlements totaling $45 million.) Fox News had been aware of complaints against O’Reilly.
Again, Fox News isn’t the only network facing such allegations, or to have mishandled sexual harassment complaints. But there have been questions on whether the network has done enough to address a culture that allowed for such predation.
Rupert Murdoch, the co-executive chair of 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, said in an interview with Sky News in December that it was “nonsense” that the misconduct allegations had hurt the network’s business.
“There was a problem with our chief executive sort of over the years, but isolated incidents,” Murdoch said. “As soon as we investigated he was out of the place in hours — well, three or four days — and there’s been nothing else since then.”
He added that the attention “was largely political because we are conservative.”
“Now of course all the liberals are going down the drain,” Murdoch said, referring to allegations at other networks. “There are really bad cases that people should be moved aside, and there are other things which probably amount to a bit of flirting, you know?”
Fox issued a clarification, saying in a statement, “Rupert has made it abundantly clear that he understands that there were real problems at Fox News.” But Rosen’s quiet departure, and the subsequent report by NPR, indicates that the network — like many other new outlets — is still grappling with how to handle such sexual misconduct allegations within its ranks.