Rupert Murdoch owned Fox News faced fresh controversy last night after it emerged it may face a U.S. Federal government investigation over sexual harassment claims against its former CEO Roger Ailes.
The revelations have sparked new calls for the UK government to hold a proper inquiry into whether Rupert Murdoch is ‘fit and proper’ to take over BSkyB.
The Australian-American media mogul wants to buy the 61% of BSkyB it does not already own.
Last week the former Labour leader Ed Miliband wrote a letter to Ofcom, saying the “extraordinary pattern of criminality and wrongdoing” revealed at News International should prompt an inquiry.
Now similar questions are being raised in the United States over its sister company.
The Hollywood Reporter reported last night:
Government prosecutors may be investigating 21st Century Fox for quietly settling sexual harassment claims against former Fox News chief Roger Ailes without reporting it to the media giant’s shareholders.
On Wednesday, during a hearing regarding former Fox News personality Andrea Tantaros’ lawsuit against network executives before New York Supreme Court Judge David Benjamin Cohen, an attorney for Tantaros said he’d been served with a subpoena by federal prosecutors investigating sexual harassment allegations directed at Ailes. Tantaros, who once served as a co-host of the afternoon show The Five, alleges in her lawsuit that Fox News “operated like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult.”
But that’s not all.
NPR’s media correspondent David Folkenflik wrote on Twitter that there were also revelations of surveillance.
Explosive allegations against Fox News out of a New York State courtroom this afternoon. Attorney for suspended host Andrea Tantaros said in court there was “compelling evidence” Fox conducted electronic surveillance agst her
Jud Burstein, the lawyer, also said prosecutors had subpoenaed one of his other clients as part of federal investigation into Fox News. […]
Each claim – the alleged illegal surveillance & securities fraud inquiry – are fraught for Fox News & for parent co 21st C Fox.
The allegations that Fox News would have had Tantaros’ private email/phones hacked raise troubling echoes of News Corp UK tabloid scandal.
New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman added:
If Ailes and/or Fox News under federal investigation, then it's sign that Fox sex scandal could be US version of Murdoch's hacking scandal
— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) February 15, 2017
There’s no hint that Rupert Murdoch knew about these revelations.
But Ed Miliband told Political Scrapbook this afternoon the fresh revelations should prompt Ofcom to investigate.
If there is a federal investigation in the United States into conduct at Fox News it would raise yet more questions about the culture of the Murdoch empire.
It would further demonstrate the need for an Ofcom inquiry into the fitness of the Murdochs to own 100 percent of BSkyB.
We need a proper inquiry into whether Murdoch is suitable to own more of the UK media industry