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Fox Sports Fires Horowitz Amid Harassment Probe

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Jamie Horowitz, center, president of Fox Sports National Networks, with Jason Whitlock, left, and Colin Cowherd, outspoken anchors on FS1. Photo: Jake Michaels for The New York Times

Announcing that it had fired its head of sports programming, the 21st Century Fox company revealed another sexual harassment scandal. Jamie Horowitz, the president of Fox Sports National Networks, was dismissed Monday after allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace of its sports division. According to the Los Angeles Times, the company interviewed several women at L.A.-based Fox Sports about Horowitz’s behavior, according to a person familiar with the investigation who was not authorized to publicly discuss it. The women included prominent on-air personalities and show producers, according to two people who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation.

“Everyone at Fox Sports, no matter what role we play, or what business, function or show we contribute to — should act with respect and adhere to professional conduct at all times,” Fox Sports President Eric Shanks said in an email to staff members, announcing Horowitz’s departure. “These values are non-negotiable,” he said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“The way Jamie has been treated by Fox is appalling,” said Horowitz’s attorney, Patricia L. Glaser. “At no point in his tenure was there any mention by his superiors or human resources of any misconduct, or an inability to adhere to professional conduct. Jamie was hired by Fox to do a job that until today he was performing in exemplary fashion.” – Fox immediately hired a high powered attorney, Daniel Petrocelli of the O’Melveny & Myers firm, to defend its decision to fire Horowitz.

Sports Illustrated on Monday reported that a production assistant told human resources executives at Fox Sports that Horowitz once tried to kiss her. “I have been working in sports for a long time, and no one has ever been that bold with me,” the unidentified woman told the magazine. “I saw him at Fox one day, and he said he wanted to catch up.… The hook was that he could get me more work.”

Fox Sports is a profitable arm of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox media company. Horowitz, 40, a former ESPN executive, ripped a page from Fox News’ playbook by introducing loud and opinionated pundits who argue about issues in sports. The shows often feature an attractive young woman who serves as a foil for the boisterous men.

The parent company has been grappling with problems in workplace culture for nearly a year. In July 2016, Fox fired its powerful chairman of Fox News, Roger Ailes, amid allegations that he made lewd comments to women and created an atmosphere of intimidation. Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox News co-host, filed a lawsuit last July that exposed the allegations against Ailes, who died in May. In April, Fox fired its star conservative host, Bill O’Reilly, amid another sexual harassment investigation. Los Angeles radio personality Wendy Walsh alleged O’Reilly promised her a position on his highly rated show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” if she would have sex with him.

This story first appeared in the blog, The Sport Intern. The editor is Karl-Heinz Huba of Lorsch, Germany. He can be reached at ISMG@aol.com. The article is reprinted here with permission of Huba.

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