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Ronan Farrow has apologized to four women who received settlements from 21st Century Fox for saying that the network did a “great job” of handling its sexual misconduct claims.
The Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators author walked back his recent comments in a statement to CNN on Wednesday. “Let me be clear: I in no way intended to suggest that networks like Fox have fully addressed these issues,” he said. “One of the lessons of the past few years is that there’s still a long way to go. I’ve heard what these women have said and join with them in the hopes that people in power are listening.”
Continued Farrow, “I’m sorry if my comments implied anything else — it certainly wasn’t my intention.”
The New Yorker investigative reporter first raised the eyebrows of some when, during a recent interview about NBC News’ handling of sexual misconduct allegations, he told Fox News anchor Bret Baier that Fox “has done a great job of confronting some of the issues, including the use of secret settlements” regarding alleged harassment and assault at its own network. Catch and Kill reports, among other items, that disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein pressured NBC News into killing a story on allegations of sexual misconduct against him by leveraging information the National Enquirer had on former NBC anchor Matt Lauer. NBC News has denied that it was ever made aware of misconduct by American Media, Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer.
In response to Farrow’s sound bite, four women who previously settled cases with 21 Century Fox wrote the journalist an open letter on Wednesday, which read, “While we appreciate the work you have done to expose and explore sexual assault, harassment and retaliation in the news and entertainment industries, we are curious as to the basis of your effusive praise of Fox News for its response to the revelations by women who described the toxic work environment they faced.”
The women — Diana Falzone, Tamara Holder, Juliet Huddy and Julie Roginsky — added that Farrow was likely aware of tactics used by media companies to silence their stories, including non-disclosure agreements, gag orders and no-rehire provisions. “Shouldn’t you be publicly calling for these companies to waive such provisions before reporting that progress is being made?” they asked.
Falzone sued Fox News in 2017 for gender and disability discrimination after claiming the network took her off the air over a story she reported on suffering from endometriosis and settled for an undisclosed sum; Holder settled for $2.5 million in 2017 after claiming a former vice president at Fox News Latino forced himself on her; Huddy settled for a reported six figures after she claimed that former anchor Bill O’Reilly tried to ruin her career after she refused his sexual advances; and Roginsky settled for an undisclosed amount after suing with the allegations that former Fox News head Roger Ailes denied her for a co-hosting role after she refused his advances. Settlement agreements were handled by 21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company at the time.
Falzone, Holder, Huddy and Roginsky concluded In the letter: “[B]ecause many women continue to be silenced and blackballed from the industry simply for having the courage to demand that they be treated professionally and with respect, your backslapping of Fox News seems more like backsliding.”
In a statement about Farrow’s apology, a Fox News spokesperson said, “Since the 2016 departure of Roger Ailes, Fox News has worked tirelessly to completely change the company culture. Over the past three years, we have created an entirely new reporting structure, more than tripled the size of our HR footprint, instituted mandatory in-person sexual harassment training, started quarterly company meetings and mentoring events as well as implemented a zero tolerance policy regarding workplace misconduct for which we engage outside independent firms to handle investigations. No other company has implemented such a comprehensive and continuous overhaul. We are incredibly proud of our team and will continue to emphasize transparency across all Fox News Media.”
Also on Wednesday, Pineapple Street Studios revealed it would be launching a companion podcast to Catch and Kill that is set to provide a “deeper understanding of the plot,” per Farrow, and will debut in November.
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