Media Matters staff

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  • Nine Black Employees Are Now Suing Fox News For Racial Harassment

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    Seven more African-American Fox News employees are expected to join two black colleagues who are suing the network for racial harassment from former comptroller Judy Slater and accounting director Tammy Efinger, according to a new report from New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman.

    This escalation in Fox’s legal troubles comes amid longtime host Bill O’Reilly’s ouster due to multiple sexual harassment allegations and an adviser exodus from his show, and Fox owner Rupert Murdoch’s bid to take over British satellite broadcasting company Sky News -- which threatens British broadcasting standards thanks to the toxic corporate culture exposed by allegations of widespread sexual and racial harassment at Murdoch’s key American TV network. It also comes as the explicit sexism and racism of Fox News continues to fester, with the leadership of Fox now under Bill Shine, a man who helped cover up harassment at the network by former chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.

    The network was originally forced to fire Slater after she made racist comments to co-workers. According to The New York Times, the original lawsuit from a Fox payroll manager and payroll coordinator alleges they were racially harassed with “racially charged comments” from Slater, “including suggestions that black men were ‘women beaters’ and that black people wanted to physically harm white people.” The lawsuit alleged, “Slater’s superiors did little to address her behavior, which created a hostile work environment that resulted in ‘severe and pervasive discrimination and harassment.’”

    New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported in an April 23 piece that seven other black employees plan to join this racial discrimination lawsuit. According to lawyers representing the affected employees, “Not once did Ms. Efinger step in or attempt to interfere with Ms. Slater’s outrageous conduct," instead “laugh[ing] or giggl[ing] following Ms. Slater’s vitriol.” The letter also details new racist, Jim Crow-era behavior from Fox’s accounting department, such as forcing the black employees to have “‘arm wrestling matches’ with white female employees in [Slater’s] office.” In an appearance discussing his report on MSNBC’s AM Joy, Sherman said these new descriptions of racist behavior at Fox “are really evident of a culture that is entrenched and that has not changed in the wake of Bill O'Reilly's departure.” From the report:

    The Murdochs hoped firing Bill O’Reilly would signal a changing culture at Fox News. “We want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect,” Rupert and his sons, James and Lachlan, wrote in a memo to Fox News employees on Wednesday. But the dismissal of Fox News’s highest rated host isn’t going to end the crisis at the network. The toxic culture, fostered for 20 years by former CEO Roger Ailes, is proving far more difficult to remedy.

    Next week, according to sources, seven black Fox News employees plan to join a racial discrimination suit filed last month by two colleagues. The original lawsuit alleged that Fox News’s longtime comptroller, Judy Slater, subjected members of Fox’s payroll staff to racial insults for years. (Fox News fired Slater in February after those employees began litigation against the network.)

    Lawyers representing the payroll employees are demanding that Fox’s accounting director, Tammy Efinger, also be removed from supervising an employee because she allegedly participated in Slater’s racist behavior. In a letter to the network’s lawyers obtained by New York, the attorneys state: “Not once did Ms. Efinger step in or attempt to interfere with Ms. Slater’s outrageous conduct.” The letter adds, instead, “Ms. Efinger chose to laugh or giggle following Ms. Slater’s vitriol.”

    According to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Slater demanded that black employees hold “arm wrestling matches’” with white female employees in her office, just down the hall from Ailes’s office on the 2nd floor of Fox headquarters. “Forcing a black woman employee to ‘fight’ for the amusement and pleasure of her white superiors is horrifying. This highly offensive and humiliating act is reminiscent of Jim Crow era battle royals,” the letter says, referring to the practice of paying black men to fight blindfolded at carnivals for white spectators’ entertainment. The lawyers argue that Efinger bragged about wanting to “fight” a black employee.

  • Bloomberg Editors On New Climate Website: Climate Change “Is Fundamentally An Economic Story”

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    Bloomberg recently announced the creation of a new website that will provide audiences with important reporting on the economic and business implications of climate change. The move comes at a time when big businesses around the world are urging governments to take action as they increasingly recognize the reality and the risk of climate change.

    On April 20, the Huffington Post reported that “Bloomberg, the titan of business and financial journalism, is adding a site devoted to climate science and the future of energy to its sprawling news empire.” The website, ClimateChanged.com, will serve as “a hub for coverage of how rising global temperatures are changing the planet and moving financial markets.”

    Bloomberg’s Sustainability Editor Eric Roston explained the decision, stating, “Climate change is fundamentally an economic story, it’s an economic problem. … It’s naturally a business story and it’s naturally a concern to rationally minded executives in any sized enterprise.” And Jared Sandberg, senior executive editor in Bloomberg’s digital division, said, “[Climate change is] the mother of all risk. … If you have intelligence agencies around the world identifying climate change as one of the great, destabilizing forces, there’s a massive risk to contend with for any business and any investor behind it.”

    The Huffington Post added that Climate Changed would give Bloomberg “a leg up” over its competitors, particularly The Wall Street Journal: “The Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper’s hard-line conservativism appears to have bled over from the opinion pages to the news section. A study published in 2015 by researchers at Rutgers University, the University of Michigan and the University of Oslo found that from 2006 to 2011, the Journal’s news reporting rarely mentioned threats or effects of climate change, compared with the country’s other leading broadsheet newspapers.”

    Bloomberg’s decision to launch a website dedicated to the impact of climate change on world economies and businesses is a particularly timely one. In recent months, businesses have become increasingly vocal about the need to address climate change. Big companies, including ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, renewable energy groups, and major American manufacturers such as General Electric are pressuring President Donald Trump to keep the U.S. in the Paris climate agreement. And after Trump took his biggest step yet towards rolling back former President Barack Obama’s “environmental legacy,” Buzzfeed News reported that “billion-dollar corporations” have said that “they'll keep on battling carbon pollution regardless of what the government says” because “climate change is a significant concern for their business.”

    From the Huffington Post article:

    The data and media giant on Thursday launched ClimateChanged.com, a hub for coverage of how rising global temperatures are changing the planet and moving financial markets.

    “Climate change is fundamentally an economic story, it’s an economic problem,” Eric Roston, Bloomberg’s sustainability editor, told The Huffington Post in an interview on Tuesday. “It’s naturally a business story and it’s naturally a concern to rationally minded executives in any sized enterprise.”

    The site fits comfortably into Bloomberg’s stable of products, anchored by its lucrative data terminal business. In December 2015, just before 195 countries reached the historic emissions-cutting deal known as the Paris Agreement, Bloomberg published its Carbon Clock, featuring a carbon dioxide tracker overlaid on satellite images of the Earth. The company owns Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a data firm dedicated to the energy industry. Michael Bloomberg, who returned to his namesake company after his third term as New York City mayor, is an outspoken climate advocate, who this week published a book with former Sierra Club chief Carl Pope on how cities and businesses can lead energy reform.

    [...]

    Climate Changed gives Bloomberg a leg up on The Wall Street Journal, arguably its chief competitor in the market for prestige journalism. The Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper’s hard-line conservativism appears to have bled over from the opinion pages to the news section. A study published in 2015 by researchers at Rutgers University, the University of Michigan and the University of Oslo found that from 2006 to 2011, the Journal’s news reporting rarely mentioned threats or effects of climate change, compared with the country’s other leading broadsheet newspapers.

    […]

    “[Climate change is] the mother of all risk,” [senior executive editor in Bloomberg’s digital division Jared] Sandberg added. “If you have intelligence agencies around the world identifying climate change as one of the great, destabilizing forces, there’s a massive risk to contend with for any business and any investor behind it.”

  • Media Matters' Erin Fitzgerald: Anti-LGBTQ Hate Groups Are Using The "Media As A Battleground" To Promote "Cloaked Discrimination"

    MMFA Program Director Tells This Show Is So Gay Why Media Outlets Should Start Labeling Designated Anti-LGBTQ Hate Groups

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    From the April 20 edition of This Show Is So Gay With Ken Schneck:

    KEN SCHNECK (HOST): So let’s talk about the Eliminate Hate Campaign. Where the heck did this come from? We need it and we need it badly.

    ERIN FITZGERALD: So this came from a project that we started this time last year. When you monitor the media every day, you notice these microtrends and you start to develop hunches. We noticed that in any given news cycle that anti-LGBTQ hate groups were never labeled in media publications, or at least it seemed infrequent to us, where with other extremist ideologies, generally that label is included. So we did what good researchers do and we did a study. We looked at top publications and we found that publications used [Southern Poverty Law Center] SPLC’s designation for all other extremist ideologies but rarely, if ever, used it for anti-LGBT hate groups.

    SCHNECK: You found that over a half a decade of research shows that journalists more often than not fail to identify anti-LGBTQ hate groups as such. So we have to do our two part question here: first, why is that happening and then second, why is it important that these anti-LGBTQ hate groups be designated as such?

    FITZGERALD: I wish I understood why it was happening. I think a lot of the pushback, particularly at the anti-LGBTQ hate groups, is that people think that SPLC designates them as such because of their biblical views on marriage or because they aren’t comfortable with trans[gender] kids and their kids sharing bathrooms together and that’s actually not true. There’s three things that trigger an SPLC designation: if an organization engages in serial misinformation or spreads malicious lies with the intention of denying people rights, or engages in incendiary and inflammatory name-calling, or attempts to criminalize LGBTQ people. Which I think are three fairly stringent benchmarks and I think that we can all agree that they are pretty heinous things to be doing.

    SCHNECK: Yeah, and so -- with a campaign like this, how do we set out to do this?

    FITZGERALD: Well, I think it’s multi-pronged really because these anti-LGBTQ hate groups are very good at coordinating with one another and they’ve been doing this for a long time sort of under the radar. There are groups like the American Family Association and Alliance Defending Freedom, who operate under the guise of being conservative Christian organizations and that’s actually not true at all. They’re mega organizations that have a lot of funding and they sort of obfuscate their true intentions by using this “religious freedom” language. After marriage equality passed, they regrouped and came out with a new strategy and that’s around “privacy” and that’s around “religious freedom” -- and really it’s just cloaked discrimination. Their talking points are very valid; they sound very believable. So if you are in middle America, if you’re my mom or dad and you hear them on ABC or CBS, you’re going to not understand the context of the work that they’ve done previously. ADF is a big proponent of the criminalization of LGBTQ people and they’ve been for decades.

    SCHNECK: I think that some of our listeners out there need to maybe be reminded and maybe i’ll speak from the “I”: Oh, that’s right! These organizations actually do have sway over a wide swath of Americans out there.

    FITZGERALD: They do! They do because their talking points are very much centered around personal beliefs and religion and not -- they don’t really talk about -- they’re not out right homophobic in the way they used to be. They’ve really streamlined and savvied up around their communications strategy and they’ve used the media as a battleground for that.

    Previously:

    Top Media Outlets Have Failed To Accurately Label Designated Anti-LGBTQ Hate Groups

    Why Doesn’t NY Times Label Anti-LGBT Extremists As “Hate Groups”?

    New Reporting Exposes Anti-LGBTQ Hate Group Suing This Pennsylvania School District