21st Century Fox defends Murdoch over comments on sexual harassment

21st Century Fox defends Murdoch over comments on sexual harassment
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21st Century Fox on Saturday rejected the notion that its executive co-chairman Rupert Murdoch dismissed sexual harassment allegations at the network as "nonsense," saying that the media mogul has made clear that he "understands that there were real problems at Fox News."

The company made the statement in response to outcry after Murdoch said former chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who exited the company following multiple allegations of sexual harassment, "sort of" had a problem.

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"It's all nonsense," he said in a video interview with Sky News when asked whether sexual harassment allegations had hurt his company's bottom line. "There was a problem with our chief executive, sort of. Over the year, isolated incidents. As soon as we investigated, he was out of the place." 

21st Century Fox said that Murdoch's comments this week simply rebuffed the suggestion that such allegations had hurt the company's bid to take control of European pay-TV giant Sky.

"Rupert never characterized the sexual harassment matters at FOX News as 'nonsense,'" the company said in a statement. "Rather he responded negatively to the suggestion that sexual harassment issues were an obstacle to the Company's bid for the rest of Sky."

21st Century Fox, which owns much of Sky News, just sold that asset among others to Disney. Fox was already in the process of gaining approval for its bid to take complete control of Sky.

Fox in its defense pointed to Murdoch's support for ousting three high-profile figures, including Ailes, at Fox News in response to sexual harassment allegations and paying settlements to victims of such behavior.

"By his actions, Rupert has made it abundantly clear that he understands that there were real problems at FOX News," according to the statement.

Earlier this year, Bill O'Reilly, Fox News' most prominent on-air personality, was removed from the network, after it was revealed that he had paid out millions of dollars in sexual harassment settlements.

Another one of Fox News' hosts, Eric Bolling was also ousted this year in the face of allegations.

Murdoch in the interview also appeared to dismiss sexual allegations against network stars as "political."

“That was largely political because we are conservative," he said. "All the liberals are going down the drain. NBC is in deep trouble, CBS, their stars."