The sexual harassment saga at TV and movie giant 21st Century Fox (fox) isn’t over yet.
Several news outlets including Sports Illustrated and the Los Angeles Times reported late Monday that Fox Sports has fired head of programming Jamie Horowitz after the network hired a law firm to investigate claims of sexual harassment.
Horowitz’s termination follows the disgrace of now-deceased Fox founder and CEO Roger Ailes, and the departures of Fox News’s co-president Bill Shine and its most popular anchor Bill O’Reilly over similar incidents.
The latest action by the network is further evidence of the company’s owners trying to get ahead of the curve after a series of lurid revelations by female staff such as Gretchen Carlson and others about how senior management abused their positions, usually by linking their career advancement to the provision of sexual favors. In contrast to the departures of Ailes, Shine and O’Reilly, Horowitz’s sacking came before any public pressure or accusations.
The Los Angeles Times said that Horowitz, hired two years ago after stints with NBC and Disney’s ESPN, had been let go after a weeklong investigation. During that time, the company interviewed several women at L.A.-based Fox Sports about Horowitz’s behavior. Those interviewed included prominent on-air personalities and show producers, according to the paper.
It cited an internal e-mail from Fox Sports President Bill Shanks saying that: “Everyone at Fox Sports, no matter what role we play, or what business, function or show we contribute to — should act with respect and adhere to professional conduct at all times.” (You can read the full text of the memo at Sports Illustrated.)
The New York Times reported Horowitz’s lawyer Patricia Glaser as saying that her client’s treatment by Fox had been “appalling.”
“At no point in his tenure was there any mention by his superiors or human resources of any misconduct, nor an inability to adhere to professional conduct. Jamie was hired by Fox to do a job, the job that until today he has performed in an exemplary fashion. Any slanderous accusations to the contrary will be vigorously defended.”
However, lawyers for Fox said the termination was “fully warranted” and said Glaser’s comments were “ill-informed and misguided,” according to the New York Times.
Shine had left amid allegations (which he rejected) of covering up legal settlements made to former female staff so as to avoid unnerving investors. That appears not to be an issue this time, however. The New York Times reported that there were no legal claims or settlements made with regard to sexual harassment.