Fox News host Eric Bolling, suspended in the wake of accusations he texted lewd images to female colleagues in years past, shares many of the same political views as President Donald Trump.
Now he shares attorneys, too.
Bolling has retained Michael J. Bowe, a partner at the New York law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres. Marc Kasowitz, the firm’s founding partner, has done personal legal work for Trump for roughly 15 years and was chosen last month to represent the president in the Congressional probe into his ties with Russia. Once on the job he summoned his partner, Bowe.
Bolling, the host of the nightly Fox News show “The Specialists” and the Saturday show “Cashin’ In,” was relieved of his duties after a Huffington Post report late Friday alleged that he has sent pictures of male genitalia to “at least two colleagues at Fox Business and at least one at Fox News” several years ago.
“Eric Bolling has been suspended pending the results of an investigation, which is currently underway,” the network said in a statement Saturday morning. The probe will be conducted by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, which has overseen several in-house probes at the network.
Bowe said his client denied the accusations, and even got in a dig at the article:
“The anonymous, uncorroborated claims are untrue and terribly unfair,” he said. “We intend to fully cooperate with the investigation so that it can be concluded and Eric can return to work as quickly as possible.
The article, by Yashir Ali, which had no quotes, was based on interviews with 14 current and former Fox News employees who chose to stay anonymous, either because they are currently employed by Fox and need permission to speak with the media, or left with non-disclosure agreements. Four other sources referenced in the story said they saw the photos in question, and eight others have discussed the contents of the emails with the recipients.
Later Saturday afternoon, Occidental College political science professor Caroline Heldman, a regular contributor to the network between 2008 and 2011, posted to Facebook an extensive account of alleged sexual harassment by Bolling, which she says went on for more than a year and involved two other women.
She said Bolling frequently went over the line, such as when during an interview he’d refer to her as “Professor McHottie,” or tell her that “you’re smart, you’re beautiful and you’re wrong.”
“My only surprise is that it took this long for people to come forward about Bolling’s behavior, which has been wildly inappropriate for years,” said Heldman, who also said she was harassed repeatedly by Bill O’Reilly and producer Vance Fraser.
Heldman lobbed another bombshell at Fox News on Sunday, when in a sworn declaration she said that Fraser harassed her for more than a year and pressured her to have an affair with her in return for a paid job, according to a report in Mother Jones.
Bolling has been on the rise at Fox in part due to his staunch support of Trump, who has returned the favor. He’s tweeted positively about Bolling several times, most recently to promote the June release of his book, “The Swamp,” which echoes the Trump campaign theme to overhaul the way business is done in Washington.
That Fox News moved swiftly to bench Bolling during the probe isn’t a surprise. The network is working to rid itself of a corporate culture seen as so unfair to women and minorities that it is threatening a key strategic bid by Chairman Rupert Murdoch and 21st Century Fox, the acquisition of the $15.4 billion final stake in Sky TV.
It was roughly a year ago that Fox News chief executive Roger Ailes stepped down after former anchor Gretchen Carlson sued, alleging that she was fired fusing his sexual advances. He denied the charges until his death in May.
Soon after, O’Reilly was forced out in April the face of a New York Times report that said Fox News had spent $13 million settling sexual harassment claims targeting the host. Co-President Bill Shine was ousted in May 1 after being criticized for lack of action in several of the avalanche of sexual and racial discrimination lawsuits filed by employees and former Fox News employees.
The majority of the lawsuits were filed by New York attorney Douglas Wigdor, who also took the fight overseas in May, lobbying British regulators in London to reject Fox’s deal for Sky TV on the grounds that they’ve mismanaged their operations at Fox News and have a corporate culture of discrimination. On Monday, Wigdor’s New York office issued a press statement noting that at the same time that Fox executives were reporting that they’ve “cleaned house” in terms of corporate governance to Ofcom, Fox was generating a fake news story.
The intent, according to Wigdor, was to influence public perception that Russian hackers were not responsible for the email hacking and further distance Trump from any allegations of his campaign’s involvement with Russia.
The “news story” was apparently woven around the shooting death of Democratic National Committee staff Seth Rich in July last year.
Wigdor has been retained by Rod Wheeler, a Fox News contributor who claims he was inadvertently made a part of the plan to build a bogus news story and distract attention from the hacking.