Eric Bolling is out at Fox News over sex pictures, while Charles Payne returns to Fox Business
Sexual harassment investigations at Fox News had on-air hosts coming and going on Friday.
The network has cut loose Eric Bolling, who was suspended on Aug. 5, and has also canceled his daily program “Fox News Specialists.”
The law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, investigated allegations that Bolling used his cellphone to send unsolicited photos of male genitalia to current and former female colleagues at the network. The firm has been handling harassment claims at the 21st Century Fox unit.
“Fox News Channel is canceling the ‘Specialists,’ and Eric Bolling and Fox have agreed to part ways amicably,” a Fox News spokesperson said in a statement. “We thank Eric for his 10 years of service to our loyal viewers and wish him the best of luck.”
Earlier Friday, Fox News confirmed that Fox Business host Charles Payne is returning to his job at the network after he was cleared in an internal investigation of sexual harassment claims lodged by a female political analyst who was a frequent guest on his program.
A Fox News representative confirmed that the company’s review of the allegations against Payne has been completed and that he would return to his nightly program “Making Money” on Friday night.
Bolling’s program, “Fox News Specialists” was to have its final airing Friday. His co-hosts, Kat Timpf and Eboni Williams, will remain with Fox News as contributors. An hourlong newscast will fill the 5 p.m. Eastern hour starting Monday.
The allegations against Bolling were among the many to hit 21st Century Fox, which has been plagued by sexual harassment allegations since former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed suit last year against the network’s former chief executive, Roger Ailes. Since then, other women have come forward with allegations against Ailes, who died in May, and other significant figures at the company.
The network’s star anchor, Bill O’Reilly, was pushed out in April after reports that he and Fox had paid out millions of dollars to settle harassment claims going back to 2004.
Payne has been off the air since July 6 when he was suspended hours after the Los Angeles Times first reported that he was being investigated over allegations of sexual misconduct.
No other details about the results of either investigation were available, but Payne’s return seems to indicate he was cleared, while Bolling was not.
No comment has been given by the attorneys for the hosts.
Bolling, 54 was a rising star at Fox News. After a career as a commodities trader, he became a commentator at CNBC. He joined Fox Business Network in 2007 and eventually became part of the late afternoon roundtable show “The Five” on Fox News Channel.
After O’Reilly’s departure, “The Five” moved to prime time, but Bolling stayed in the late afternoon slot to head up “Fox News Specialists.” He signed a new multi-year contract earlier this year.
Bolling was suspended after a report from the web site HuffPost said the host was sending lewd photos from his cellphone to former and current female colleagues at the network. Bolling’s lawyer issued a denial and the host threatened to sue the reporter who broke the story, but no suit has been filed.
Payne was investigated on charges from a female political commentator who said she was allegedly coerced into a sexual relationship with him in return for guest appearances on the network.
Payne acknowledged that he was in a three-year “romantic relationship” with the woman. But he has called the claims of harassment “an ugly lie.”
The woman was never an employee of Fox News but appeared as a guest on numerous Fox News and Fox Business Network programs with the hope of becoming a paid contributor.
She has told her lawyer, who prepared a legal complaint against Fox News and Payne, that she stayed in the relationship with the host because she believed he would help her chances of landing a paying position at the network. She alleged that her opportunities diminished after the relationship ended in 2015 when Payne’s wife learned of their involvement.
Payne, who joined Fox Business in 2006 as a contributor, signed a new multiyear contract in June.
1:40 p.m.:This article was updated with additional details about Bolling’s termination.
This article was originally published at 9:45 a.m.
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