John Huddy, Brother of O'Reilly Accuser, Claims Fox News Fired Him Unfairly
"They hurt my sister, they hurt my father, and now they're trying to hurt me," said the correspondent.
John Huddy, who was terminated on Monday from his position as a Jerusalem-based correspondent for Fox News, is strongly pushing back on the network's claim that he was dismissed because of his role in a "physical altercation."
The network, in a statement to reporters on Monday, said the altercation happened earlier this month and was investigated. "The network’s investigation concluded last week, and due to observation of the Sabbath on Friday, terminated Huddy’s employment this morning," the company said.
Huddy, in a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday, said the network has it all wrong. Huddy said there was no physical altercation, and that he only learned that this was the reason given publicly for his firing from reading news reports.
The "altercation" that Fox News referred to in dismissing Huddy occurred at an airport in Barcelona on Oct. 12. Huddy said 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. 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. (He said he complained to his bureau chief about the comments.)
"This is disgusting what they're doing," Huddy said of his termination from Fox News. "It's just awful. For what? Because I got in an argument with somebody?" Earlier, he said, "I'm not trying to play the victim or be a martyr. As journalists, it's our job to expose injustice, and this is brutal."
A spokesperson for Fox News told THR that the network stands by the statement it made on Monday about Huddy's dismissal.
Furthermore, Huddy said he had been targeted for dismissal by the network for months because of who his family is. His sister had been a Fox News personality, and, according to The New York Times, had lodged a complaint against O'Reilly for inappropriate behavior and subsequently settled the matter with 21st Century Fox in September 2016. She appeared on former Fox News host Megyn Kelly's NBC show on Monday morning and talked about her experience, granting that she was limited in what she could say because of the terms of her settlement. On her show on Tuesday morning, Kelly told her audience that Huddy, her guest's brother, had been fired by Fox News before her 9 a.m. show a day earlier had concluded.
Huddy said the timing of his firing — on the same day as his sister's high-profile appearance on NBC, her first — was "more than just a coincidence," but stopped short of saying that the connection was definitive.
John Huddy's father, John Huddy Sr., was a consultant for Fox News and was very close with the late Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, who served as his godfather. "When Roger resigned, as soon as he was out the door, my dad was fired immediately," he said. "And that was it. Despite the fact that my dad had helped Roger really build the company.
"They hurt my sister, they hurt my father, and now they're trying to hurt me," Huddy said by phone from Israel.
Huddy said he was told he was being investigated last week. On Monday, Huddy said he was called into a conference room, told that the investigation determined that he his behavior had been deemed "inappropriate and unprofessional" and was fired. But Huddy said he was not told that he was being dismissed because of a physical altercation. "I had to call several times and ask over and over what I was fired for," he said.
Huddy was not given severance and did not sign a non-disclosure agreement, which he said is why he is able to discuss his situation.
"I have the liberty to say now how I feel about these things," he said. "I don't like bad-mouthing companies and places where I work, but there were clearly so many problems and so many issues, and the way this was handled was just so terrible. It's so bad, it's so wrong." Huddy said he was working without a contract, since his ended in late April.
A former reporter for Fox 5 News in New York City, Huddy had worked in Israel for Fox News since 2014. His wife is three months pregnant. "I don't know what I'm going to do," he said of his next move. "It's a really bad position to be put in. But that's what this company does."