Fox News on Saturday suspended host Eric Bolling following a media report that he sent sexually inappropriate text messages to colleagues, marking the third high-profile harassment case to rock the conservative, highly rated cable news outlet.
Bolling’s lawyer called the claims “untrue and terribly unfair”.
“Eric Bolling has been suspended pending the results of an investigation, which is currently underway,” Fox News – part of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc – said in a statement.
A report on the Fox News website referred only to “allegations of inappropriate behaviour”.
Fox News parted ways with star host Bill O’Reilly in April following allegations of sexual harassment, and former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes was forced to resign last year after being accused of sexual misconduct by a number of women, including former anchor Gretchen Carlson. Both men denied wrongdoing.
As co-host of the Fox News’ show The Specialists, Bolling is part of a panel discussing the top stories of the day. He also hosts Cashin’ In, a business show.
The Huffington Post – citing 14 sources who requested anonymity – reported on Friday that several years ago, Bolling sent unsolicited inappropriate photos via text message to at least two colleagues at Fox Business and another one at Fox News. The messages were sent on several occasions, the Huffington Post said.
Bolling’s attorney, Michael Bowe, said in an email to Reuters that “the anonymous, uncorroborated claims are untrue and terribly unfair. We intend to fully cooperate with the investigation so that it can be concluded and Eric can return to work as quickly as possible”.
Previously, Bowe said in a statement to the Huffington Post that Bolling did not recall sending any inappropriate messages and would “vigorously pursue his legal remedies” to combat any false or defamatory accusations.
Fox News, with a conservative bent associated with Republican Party politics, has led most ratings for US cable news for years but has been unsettled by reports that it has been a hostile workplace for women.
Ailes was credited with building Fox News into a politically influential channel. Fox News parted ways with O’Reilly – the face of the channel – after advertisers began to flee his show.
Rupert Murdoch – executive chairman of Twenty-First Century Fox – wrote at the time that the company was committed to “fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect”. (Reuters)