Fox News Channel has served as the tip of the spear in America’s culture wars, but the suspension of yet another star in the network’s firmament over claims of sexual harassment indicate that the network itself may have a culture problem.
On Friday, HuffPost’s Yashar Ali reported that longtime Fox News host Eric Bolling had sent “an unsolicited photo of male genitalia” to multiple female colleagues at Fox News Channel and sister network Fox Business. The photo—reportedly sent via text message from a number associated with Bolling— was allegedly sent several years ago, and had been seen by four more unnamed sources in addition to the intended recipients.
Bolling has been suspended from the network, “pending the results of an investigation, which is currently underway,” according to a Fox News spokesperson. Asked whether the suspension, which was announced on Saturday, indicated that the investigation had progressed since the initial accusations were made public, the spokesperson cautioned that the review is in its beginning stages.
“We were just informed of this yesterday from the HuffPo inquiry at 3:30p and it hasn't even been a full 24 hours since the story hit,” the spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “Serious investigations take longer than 24 hours.”
As the internal investigation into the alleged sexual harassment progresses, Bolling will be replaced by rotating substitute anchors on Cashin’ In and The Specialists, the two shows he hosts. The episode of Cashin’ In filmed on Friday before the accusations went public was pulled before airing as scheduled on Saturday.
The internal review will be conducted by white-shoe law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP—the same firm that oversaw the sexual harassment investigations of Fox News chairman Roger Ailes and primetime host Bill O’Reilly, and is currently heading the investigation of sexual harassment allegations against Fox Business anchor Charles Payne.
Those investigations led to Ailes’ resignation and O’Reilly’s termination, while Payne remains suspended from the network nearly a month after a former political analyst said she was blackballed from the network after ending a three-year affair with Payne. (All three men have maintained their innocence, with Ailes denying the allegations until his death in May.)
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Bolling’s attorney Michael J. Bowe said that “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.”
Bowe had told HuffPost that Bolling “recalls no such inappropriate communications, does not believe he sent any such communications, and will vigorously pursue his legal remedies for any false and defamatory accusations that are made.”
The sexual harassment allegations aren’t the first time that he has stood accused of misogyny. In September 2014, Bolling was forced to issue an on-air apology after asking “Does this count as boobs on the ground?” during a segment about female UAE fighter pilot Mariam Al Mansouri.
In the past, Bolling has been unsparing in his criticism of another high-profile figure embroiled in text-based sexual harassment claims, calling Anthony Weiner “a sick human being” after the former congressman pleaded guilty to sending explicit text messages to a 15-year-old girl.
“He is a sick human being,” Bolling said on The Specialists at the time. “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.”