Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Fox Dealing With Another Sexual Harassment Scandal

Jamie Horowitz
Rupert Murdoch’s media company has been struggling for nearly a year to contain a sexual harassment scandal that has engulfed its Fox News unit in New York. Now, fresh allegations of a boorish workplace culture are dogging yet another unit — this time in Los Angeles — as Fox Sports announced that it had abruptly fired its controversial head of sports programming.

The LA Times reports Jamie Horowitz’s dismissal Monday came about a week after Fox began investigating allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace in its sports division. The company interviewed several women at L.A.-based Fox Sports about Horowitz’s behavior.

Late Friday, Horowitz, the president of Fox Sports National Networks, was told to report to his West Los Angeles office at 8 a.m. Monday for a meeting. That request, his attorney said, was the first indication to Horowitz that anything was amiss.

He met with Fox Sports’ human resources executives, who informed Horowitz that he was being fired, effective immediately, said one of the people familiar with the situation.

“The way Jamie has been treated by Fox is appalling,” said Horowitz's attorney, Patricia L. Glaser. “At no point in his tenure was there any mention by his superiors or human resources of any misconduct, or an inability to adhere to professional conduct. Jamie was hired by Fox to do a job that until today he was performing in exemplary fashion.

“Any slanderous accusations to the contrary will be vigorously defended.”

Fox Sports is a profitable arm of Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox media company. Horowitz, 40, a former ESPN executive, ripped a page from Fox News’ playbook by introducing loud and opinionated pundits who argue about issues in sports. The shows often feature an attractive young woman who serves as a foil for the boisterous men.

Sports Illustrated on Monday reported that a production assistant told human resources executives at Fox Sports that Horowitz once tried to kiss her. “I have been working in sports for a long time, and no one has ever been that bold with me,” the unidentified woman told the magazine. “I saw him at Fox one day, and he said he wanted to catch up.… The hook was that he could get me more work.”

He joined Fox Sports after a brief and tumultuous stint at NBC’s “Today,” from which he was fired in 2014 after two months on the job. On-air personalities at “Today” complained to superiors that Horowitz was sowing discord on the set, suggesting that high-profile anchors, including Natalie Morales and Willie Geist, were on the verge of being fired.

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