A former Fox News contributor sounded off this weekend on Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox's parent company, after he dismissed sexual misconduct allegations at the network as "nonsense." During an interview with CNN's Reliable Sources, Tamara Holder detailed the alleged sexual harassment she faced at Fox and claimed Murdoch defamed her by discounting it. Though she noted she was violating a confidentiality agreement by breaking her silence, Holder said she refused to let Murdoch brush off multiple sexual harassment allegations.
Holder, a civil rights and defense attorney, began work as a contributor for Fox News in 2010 and left the company when her contract expired in January. As the New York Times reported back in March Holder came forward with sexual harassment allegations against one of the company's executives, Fox News Latino Vice President Francisco Cortes, in October 2016. Cortes was fired from the company following an internal investigation; he denied Holder's allegations and said that Fox used him as "a scapegoat" to "demonstrate that it aggressively handles sexual harassment complaints."
"I had a man pull out his penis in his office and shove my head on it. That was not flirting, that was criminal."
The alleged defamation against Holder stems from comments Murdoch made when asked about sexual harassment allegations at Fox News in an interview on Thursday. "How harmful has the whole raft of allegations about sexual harassment at Fox News been for the business?" Sky News' Ian King asked Murdoch.
"Oh, that's all nonsense," Murdoch said. "There was a problem with our chief executive [Roger Ailes], sort of over the years, but isolated instances. As soon as we investigated it, he was out of the place within hours." Murdoch then corrected himself, saying it was "three or four days" until Ailes was fired (a spokesperson for 21st Century Fox said Murdoch wasn't characterizing the sexual harassment allegations as "nonsense," but instead "responded negatively to the suggestion that sexual harassment issues were an obstacle to the Company’s bid for the rest of Sky.")
Murdoch also said in the interview that "there's been nothing else since" at Fox News since the Ailes scandal, which he said was "largely political, because we're conservative." He added:
You know, I think it's a very interesting subject we could go into at length, but there are really bad cases that people should be moved aside, and there are other things which probably amount to a bit of flirting.
In her interview with CNN, Holder said that Murdoch's characterization of the events was false and defamatory toward her. "Either Mr. Murdoch is a liar or he's delusional and old and needs to get out," Holder said, suggesting that investors should reconsider giving their money to Murdoch.
Holder also underscored that what she experienced was not flirting.
Let me be clear. I had a man pull out his penis in his office and shove my head on it. That was not flirting, that was criminal. That was not sexual harassment, there were no gray areas ... This is criminal and I'm not the only case. There are women who can't speak out.
Holder added that she and other women had suffered because they brought sexual misconduct allegations forward, and noted that she's being held back professionally because she is unable to apply to jobs at a Fox-owned company:
So I am now being punished, on top of not having a career in TV, I can't even apply for a job because he allowed me to be abused in his workplace and didn't protect me? And I can't work anywhere now? There's something wrong with me?
Holder said she expected Fox to sue her for giving a public interview on the matter, even though her contract said technically she could do if she was "disparaged or maligned."
"If this is political, then let's take these cases to trial," she said. "I'm down. Let's open it up. You're the ones who wanted to settle. You're the ones who wanted us to be quiet." Well, Holder isn't being quiet anymore.