The abrupt firing of Fox News Jerusalem correspondent John Huddy Jr. this week—at the same moment that his older sister, former Fox anchor Juliet Huddy, was appearing Monday on Megyn Kelly Today in a segment scorching Bill O’Reilly and the Fox News corporate culture—is only the latest piece of dreadful publicity that has continued to plague the right-leaning cable channel since Gretchen Carlson’s sensational July 2016 lawsuit against Roger Ailes.
“It’s so arrogant that they do it not a month after Juliet’s television appearance, but they do it in perfect synchronicity,” said John Huddy Sr., the father of 48-year-old Juliet and 40-year-old John, in an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast. “They [Fox News management] did it to send the message, ‘You fuck with us, we’re going to do everything we can to hurt you.’”
Huddy said the publicly announced termination of John Jr., whose contract with Fox News had recently expired, “is an extreme example of that. They want the world to know that they’re going to try to hurt John—a talented, aggressive, honorable reporter who’s put his life in danger for these motherfuckers—and they want the world to know why they’re doing it, which is trumped-up nonsense about an argument.”
Huddy said he is especially angry at the Murdochs, who he believes have been calling the shots regarding his son’s termination. Quoting his late friend Ailes, Huddy said: “Rupert Murdoch is not an ideological person and he’s not a classic conservative or a Reagan conservative. He’s a guy who’s interested in only two things: money and power.”
Huddy added: “Rupert Murdoch would crawl over his dying mother to fuck his sister if he could raise his revenue by five percent.”
The younger Huddy has retained New York attorney Douglas Wigdor, his sister’s lawyer as well, in connection with potential claims against his former employer arising from his termination.
Wigdor has more than 20 clients in litigation with the cable channel concerning complaints ranging from sexual harassment to racial discrimination.
The elder Huddy’s salty comments came as O’Reilly, who was fired from Fox News in April after damning a New York Times report concerning his alleged sexual misconduct with female coworkers and other on-air women, filed a summons in New York State Supreme Court Friday against former New Jersey Democratic state legislator Michael Panter.
Panter claimed this week in a Facebook post that the disgraced Fox News star would phone his girlfriend late at night, apparently while masturbating—“as she was laying next to her boyfriend, and worried what hanging up could do to her career.”
O’Reilly—who claims Panter exposed him to “public hatred, ridicule, disgrace, and permanent harm” and is suing for “no less than $5 million”—has vehemently denied Panter’s account, which also claimed that the formerly top-rated cable news anchor had phoned his unnamed girlfriend, after Fox News executives paved the way, to ask her to gather dirt on a new O’Reilly accuser suing him for sexual harassment.
“This latest victim was someone my ex knew, and lived in the same complex. He got to the point immediately: give me anything you have on this woman, which we ‘can use against her,’” Panter wrote. “He asked if anything was known about her sex life. He asked if she used any illegal drugs. He also asked if anything was known about her financial situation and marriage. In essence, the leadership of Fox, including their HR head/counsel and O’Reilly, who held my ex’s career in their hands (and whom O’Reilly was also harassing) was demanding information to attack another victim.”
In April, the Times reported that Juliet Huddy had received a settlement from Fox News in the high six figures. (In another bombshell report, the Times reported earlier this week that O'Reilly had shelled out $32 million to on-air contributor Lis Wiehl over allegations that included him sending pornographic material to her.)
“This is old news, covered last January by the New York Times,” O’Reilly’s spokesman, Mark Fabiani, told The Daily Beast of Huddy's settlement. “Mr. O’Reilly denied and challenged the allegations then, before there was a settlement, and denies them now. As the Times reported, Mr. O’Reilly did not pay anything in the settlement.”
Fox News, meanwhile, declined to respond to Huddy Sr.’s comments.
After what Fox News described (in a statement this week) as a “thorough investigation” of a “physical altercation” between the younger Huddy and a member of his crew at an airport in Barcelona Oct. 12, the younger Huddy’s father said he had a contentious phone conversation with Fox News human resources chief Kevin Lord.
Huddy Sr. added that on Monday his son was summoned by Jerusalem bureau chief Eli Fastman, who demanded his company cell phone and car keys, along with his I.D., and told him he was through.
The younger Huddy, who has worked for Fox-owned television stations and the cable channel for the past decade, and put himself in harm’s way to cover Middle East warzones, told the Hollywood Reporter that there was no physical fight at the airport, and that “a freelance photographer pushed a cart full of equipment into him, and that the two of them subsequently ‘had words,’ but that no blows were exchanged.”
The Hollywood Reporter continued: “Huddy said he already had bad blood with the photographer and with a producer in the bureau because they had, months earlier, badmouthed the women who had accused Bill O'Reilly of sexual harassment — including his sister, Juliet Huddy — in front of him.”
Huddy Sr. echoed his son’s account, and added the detail that the freelance photographer, an Israeli, trash-talked John’s sister Juliet and other alleged O’Reilly victims when news reports of their money settlements were published in the New York Times.
“He went on a rampage against John in the bureau, basically saying that Juliet and the other women should quit if they don’t like their job, that they were of bunch of whores seeking opportunities, and why are they giving them money?” Huddy Sr. said. (This more detailed account was given to him by his son.)
The elder Huddy said his son simply “walked out and complained to the bureau chief. If it had happened to me, I would have beat the shit out of that guy.”
Huddy also said that during his son’s phone conversation with Lord, after the freelance photographer made a formal complaint, he demanded to know if Fox News had spoken to witnesses at the airport or obtained security camera footage, and that Lord indicated that this had not been done.
A source familiar with the investigation, however, told The Daily Beast: “There was a witness to the altercation which was spoken to in the course of the investigation. Huddy Jr was never told that we did not pull security footage.”
It was unclear, late Friday afternoon, whether Fox News had indeed acquired and examined airport surveillance video in the course of its investigation.
The elder Huddy, 74—a close friend of the late Ailes, a fellow Ohio native, for more than four decades, and a handsomely paid adviser to the Fox News Chairman for 16 years until he was dismissed along with Ailes last year—cast his son’s firing as a symptom of the “corrupt and criminal” Fox News culture. (John Jr. was Ailes’s godson.)
“Every level of the Fox News Channel is corrupt,” said Huddy Sr., a former Miami Herald columnist and television and documentary producer, who is at work on a book-length exposé titled Slaughter on Sixth Avenue, which he describes as “the ultimate insider account of the Fox News scandals and Rupert Murdoch’s feverish lust for power and political dominance.”
“They operate on an indecent and almost obscene level,” Huddy Sr. added, noting that the combined payouts by Fox News, its parent company 21st Century Fox and O’Reilly to his daughter and other women for sexual harassment claims—including allegations against Ailes—have so far amounted to more than $100 million.
“The level of corporate malfeasance is beyond scale,” Huddy Sr. said. “Why hasn’t somebody fired Rupert Murdoch and his two sons?” he added, referring to the executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, chief executive James Murdoch and co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch. “I’ve never seen such poor handling of a crisis and the lack of damage control. They’re incredibly incompetent.”
21st Century Fox declined to comment.