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Legal Woes Pile Up as Fox News Searches for New CEO

Help wanted: Seasoned journalist; experienced manager accustomed to working in fast-paced, high-stress environment. Must have impeccable track record of equanimity in workplace relations.

21st Century Fox has quietly begun the hunt for a CEO to take the reins of Fox News as the division tries to move past the torrent of scandals and lawsuits that have upended operations. On the heels of programming chief Bill Shine’s hasty exit as co-president, word emerged that the parent company was starting to look for a CEO to take on the Herculean task of leading the company into its next chapter. Speculation about the Murdochs’ wish list had centered on The Wall Street Journal editor in chief Gerard Baker. Other in-house candidates might include Jamie Horowitz, the ESPN alum who landed at Fox Sports 1 after a brief tenure at NBC News. Or the job could go to a true outsider from the world of U.K. or Australian news, such as Sky News chief John Ryley.

Whoever lands the job, it’s sure to require fortitude and determination as Fox News digs its way out of a mounting list of claims. Following is a list of plaintiffs:

Kelly Wright, correspondent, anchor, 2003-present

CLAIM: Racial discrimination. He’s part of an employee class action alleging a culture of “severe racial harassment.” RESPONSE: Fox News “vehemently denies” the claims and says it will “vigorously defend these cases.” OUTCOME: Some incidents cited in the complaint involve Judy Slater, a Fox News comptroller who has been fired.

Diana Falzone, on-air persoanlity, FoxNews.com, 2008-present

CLAIM: Gender, disability discrimination. After disclosing she suffers from endometriosis, she was banned from appearing on air. RESPONSE: None. The lawsuit was filed on the same day co-president Bill Shine resigned. OUTCOME: None so far.

Tamara Holder, general commentator, host of “Sports Court” 2010-2017

CLAIM: Sexual assault. She claimed that an executive tried to force her to perform oral sex. RESPONSE: The New York Times reported 21st Century Fox settled with her for more than $2.5 million; the exec was terminated. OUTCOME: ICM has retained outside counsel to investigate whether her agents discouraged her from speaking out.

Andrea Tantaros, host, “Outnumbered,” “The Five,” 2010-2016

CLAIM: Sexual harassment by Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly; retaliation via “illegal electronic surveillance.” RESPONSE: Ailes and O’Reilly have denied her claims; Fox’s outside legal counsel denies claims of digital spying. OUTCOME: Her sexual harassment allegations are in private arbitration.

Wendy Walsh, contributor, “The O’Reilly Factor” 2013

CLAIM: Sexual harassment by Bill O’Reilly. RESPONSE: She says that after rejecting O’Reilly’s advances, she was frozen out of her role on his show. O’Reilly denies the claim. OUTCOME: She reported the incident to a company hotline, and an outside firm investigated the claim. O’Reilly left the net.

Gretchen Carlson, host, “Fox & Friends,” “The Real Story” 2006-16

CLAIM: Sexual harassment by Roger Ailes; retaliation. RESPONSE: Her 2016 suit triggered an internal investigation that led to the resignation of Ailes, who initially denied the claim. OUTCOME: Settlement for a reported $20 million; 21st Century Fox issued an apology.

Julie Roginsky, contributor, “Outnumbered” 2011-present

CLAIM: Sexual harassment by Ailes. She claims she was denied a spot on “The Five” for refusing a sexual relationship with him. RESPONSE: Ailes attorney called her claims “hogwash.” OUTCOME: Ongoing. Shine also was named in her lawsuit, filed earlier this year.

Laurie Dhue, host, Fox News 2000-8

CLAIM: Sexual harassment by Ailes and O’Reilly. RESPONSE: Ailes and O’Reilly issued denials; she was among women who reportedly settled with O’Reilly for a total of $13 million. OUTCOME: She is said to be writing a book about her experiences.

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