Former Fox Business associate producer and reporter Jennifer Eckhart and frequent Fox News guest Cathy Areu spoke to CBS This Morning correspondent Jericka Duncan for today’s broadcast about their lawsuit against Fox News, and how disgraced former Fox News anchor Ed Henry allegedly behaved toward them.
In the lawsuit (and in the interview), Areu claims Henry was abusive toward her. She also says Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Howard Kurtz and Gianno Caldwell harassed her.
“I kind of got numb to it,” Areu said of the alleged harassment she faced from Henry. “I thought it was perfectly fine to receive pornographic images and gifts. I thought that was normal for a male anchor to do.”
Areu claimed she heard a number of male Fox Newsers complaining that they had to attend seminars to train them on how to avoid sexually harassing behavior.
Eckart, on the other hand, recalled how Henry talked about how attractive she was after they met for the first time, which was in 2014 when she was a production assistant.
She claimed in the lawsuit that Henry raped her, asked her to be a “sex slave” and performed “sadistic acts” on her in 2017 while she was bound by metal handcuffs.
“Would you characterize the relationship you were in with Ed Henry as mainly abusive?” Duncan asked.
“Absolutely. Without question,” Eckart replied. “I felt that he had the power to derail me, to destroy me, to ruin my career …”
Duncan asked Eckart if she ever felt “safe” working at Fox.
“It’s safe to say I was paralyzed by fear when I was working there,” Eckart answered. “I don’t know how you can continue to cultivate and foster an environment that rewards sexual predators consistently year after year.”
A network spokesperson provided us with a separate statement this morning: “There were not sexual harassment claims against Ed Henry at FOX News prior to Jennifer Eckhart’s claim on June 25, 2020.”
Eckhart spent 7 1/2 years working at Fox News, joining in January 2013 and leaving on June 12, 2020. She was a producer and worked on Countdown to the Closing Bell. She also reported on the entertainment business, and would make appearances on the Tom Shillue Show on Fox News Radio and Fox Nation.
In response to the lawsuit, filed in federal court yesterday by Wigdor LLC, Fox News provided TVNewser with this statement:
“Based on the findings of a comprehensive independent investigation conducted by an outside law firm, including interviews with numerous eyewitnesses, we have determined that all of Cathy Areu’s claims against FOX News, including its management as well as its hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity & Howard Kurtz and its contributor Gianno Caldwell, are false, patently frivolous and utterly devoid of any merit. We take all claims of harassment, misconduct and retaliation seriously, promptly investigating them and taking immediate action as needed — in this case, the appropriate action based on our investigation is to defend vigorously against these baseless allegations. Ms. Areu and Jennifer Eckhart can pursue their claims against Ed Henry directly with him, as FOX News already took swift action as soon as it learned of Ms. Eckhart’s claims on June 25 and Mr. Henry is no longer employed by the network.”
Henry’s attorney issued the following statement yesterday as well:
“The evidence in this case will demonstrate that Ms. Eckhart initiated and completely encouraged a consensual relationship. Ed Henry looks forward to presenting actual facts and evidence, which will contradict the fictional accounts contained in the complaint. That evidence includes graphic photos and other aggressively suggestive communications that Ms. Eckhart sent to Mr. Henry.”
Below, Duncan’s conversation with Eckhart and Areu:
New allegations that sexual misconduct continued at Fox News Channel for years after the revelations that led to the departure of CEO Roger Ailes.
The network has denied the claims. pic.twitter.com/RIBuXH8fu4
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) July 21, 2020