The racial discrimination lawsuit against Fox News just added nine new plaintiffs, including news anchor Kelly Wright. As before, the allegations are jaw-dropping.
You may recall that the previous complaints included such shocking allegations as Fox’s long-time comptroller, Judith Slater, throwing up her hands in the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture made famous by Black Lives Matter when an African American employee came to say goodnight. Also, Slater allegedly told an employee, “You eat what we (white people) throw away.”
The latest complaint is just as, if not more disturbing. For example, the allegations from Wright (with my emphases added):
6. By way of example only, while O’Reilly refused to permit Mr. Wright to come on his show to discuss how America could focus on achieving racial conciliation in the midst of growing racial hostility, shockingly, he told Mr. Wright that he “should call up” Ailes and current co-President William Shine (“Shine”) and “offer to sing the National Anthem at the Fox News Town Halls.” Rather than viewing Mr. Wright as the two-time Emmy Award recipient he is, O’Reilly saw Mr. Wright as an entertainer and utility player.
7. On another occasion, Mr. Wright requested to appear on The O’Reilly Factor to discuss the racial divide in Ferguson, Missouri, and suggested showing the viewers “Beyond the Dream,” which is a series of positive stories about the African-American community and its contributions to the world. O’Reilly refused to run the “Beyond the Dream” piece because it showed Blacks in “too positive” a light. O’Reilly incredulously declared on his show: “I know Black America better than anyone.”
On numerous occasions, Mr. Wright has offered to increase coverage and outreach to minority communities in an effort to bridge the racial divide and to counter the insensitivity to People of Color frequently portrayed by Fox News. Sadly, there was no advancement of Mr. Wright’s ideas and proposals.
9. [Co-president William] Shine also has demonstrated an obsession with race when it comes to discussions with Mr. Wright, including regularly asking him, “how do Black people react to you” and “how do you think White viewers look at you?”
Also these heart-breaking allegations regarding plaintiff Musfiq Rahman, described in the complaint as a dark-skinned Bangladeshi:
13. Following 9/11, certain executives, including [former Fox CEO Roger] Ailes, expressed concerns about subsequent terror attacks on New York City. Sometime in or about late 2014, Mr. Rahman was on the second floor of Fox’s New York City office, looking for a group of other co-workers. Mr. Rahman mistakenly walked into Ailes’s office, which up to that point was open to the floor when his door was not closed. The fallout for Mr. Rahman’s “mistake” was swift and severe. Ailes was furious and his paranoia about being attacked came to the forefront. That same day, Ailes ordered that a wall be constructed immediately in his personal office to act as a barrier to entry.
This wall was an obvious attempt at preventing Black or dark-skinned employees from walking in unannounced and frightening Ailes.
14. The following day, Mr. Rahman, along with a number of Black employees in the Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable Departments, had their security passes to the second floor revoked. Thereafter, these humiliated employees were forced to get “escorts” when they needed to speak to other employees on the second floor.
15. Mr. Rahman was also subjected to egregious discrimination at the hands of Slater, a former Senior Vice President and Controller for Fox News. Slater regularly berated and disparaged Mr. Rahman, mocking his accent and purported inability to pronounce certain words. Slater also complained that she “could not understand” Mr. Rahman and mocked him in group meetings and privately. On more than one occasion, Slater’s relentless tyranny brought Mr. Rahman to tears.
In case that’s not sickening enough, there’s also this:
20. Moreover, purely for her own entertainment and amusement, Slater regularly demanded that minority employees engage in arm wrestling contests, including against some of their white female supervisors, similar to the way slave masters demanded that Black slaves fight each other for their own amusement and entertainment. Both [plaintiff Monica] Douglas and [plaintiff Tichoana] Brown were subjected to this despicable treatment.
As Gabriel Sherman noted, “The new claims, if true, reveal not just the failures of the legal and HR departments to deal with problematic managers but also just how deep the culture of discrimination and harassment may have run during Ailes’s reign.”
To that, I’d add that Wright’s claims, in particular, also show that Fox News has deliberately fanned the flames of racial divisiveness, fear and discord at the same time that it turned down opportunities to do otherwise.
In addition to the 11 plaintiffs now part of the New York state case, the same law firm has filed another racial discrimination suit in federal court in Manhattan on behalf of a 12th plaintiff.
Once again, I’ll include here the 2007 video produced by Brave New Films called “Fox Attacks Black America.” Full disclosure: I assisted with the research. Watch it below and you’ll see that racism at Fox News has been apparent for many, many years.
Update: Fox has responded to the newly-filed cases:
(Image of Kelly Wright and Juan Williams via screen grab)