the law

Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity Accused of Sexual Misconduct in New Lawsuit

Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, two of the defendants named in the complaint. Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Getty Images

A complaint filed in New York federal court on July 20 alleges sexual misconduct by top Fox News hosts, including Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Howard Kurtz. The suit also addresses a previous rape allegation against host Ed Henry, who was fired from the network on July 1 after an internal investigation. “In reality, Fox News knew that Mr. Henry had engaged in sexual misconduct as far back as early 2017,” the complaint claims. “At that time, when Fox News was conducting a company-wide investigation into issues of sexual harassment, multiple women came forward to complain that Mr. Henry had engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct towards them.” The rape allegation comes from Jennifer Eckhart, a former freelance administrative assistant turned associate producer for Fox Business Network. Along with rape, her claim alleges that Fox News violated federal laws against sex trafficking by supporting Henry.

A second plaintiff, Cathy Areu — a former Fox contributor and “Liberal Sherpa” on Tucker Carlson Tonight — also alleges sexual harassment by Henry. Additionally, she claims that Hannity offered his staff and crew $100 to take her on a date during preparation for a taping, and that she was “hardly ever, if ever at all” brought back on his show afterward. During her final 2018 appearance on Carlson’s show, she alleges she was kept on set by tech crew, who refused to take off her earpiece, so that Carlson could invite her to a hotel room where he was staying that night without his family. She declined, and has only been featured on his show three times since. She also said she declined a meeting with Kurtz, whose Media Buzz show she had appeared on regularly, at a hotel room one night in 2019, instead suggesting he meet her with a friend for dinner. He did not agree to the meeting, and afterward wouldn’t talk with her about possible advancement opportunities, telling her, “in sum and in substance, ‘You’re the only woman here who won’t come to my hotel room.’” The complaint demands a trial by jury against Fox News, Ed Henry, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Howard Kurtz as defendants.

Update, July 21, 9:30 a.m.: A statement from a Fox News spokesperson denies the women’s allegations against all current hosts. The statement reads:

Based on the findings of a comprehensive independent investigation conducted by an outside law firm, including interviews with numerous eyewitnesses, we have determined that all of Cathy Areu’s claims against FOX News, including its management as well as its hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity & Howard Kurtz and its contributor Gianno Caldwell, are false, patently frivolous and utterly devoid of any merit. We take all claims of harassment, misconduct and retaliation seriously, promptly investigating them and taking immediate action as needed — in this case, the appropriate action based on our investigation is to defend vigorously against these baseless allegations. Ms. Areu and Jennifer Eckhart can pursue their claims against Ed Henry directly with him, as FOX News already took swift action as soon as it learned of Ms. Eckhart’s claims on June 25 and Mr. Henry is no longer employed by the network.

Regarding claims against Henry, no longer employed by Fox, a spokesperson said, “There were not sexual-harassment claims against Ed Henry at FOX News prior to Jennifer Eckhart’s claim on June 25, 2020.”

Correction, July 21: This story has been updated to more clearly reflect Eckhart and Areu’s job titles at Fox News.

Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity Accused of Sexual Misconduct