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UltraViolet Calls for Independent Investigation Into Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson Over Sexual Harassment Accusations

A Fox News spokesperson said the network already did a ”comprehensive independent investigation conducted by an outside law firm“ that concluded the accusations were ”false“

Feminist group UltraViolet has called for an independent investigation into the sexual harassment accusations against Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Howard Kurtz and contributor Gianno Caldwell that were detailed in a lawsuit on Monday.

“The allegations that Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity also took part in and fostered this toxic culture is hardly surprising. Fox News may deny these allegations, but we’ve seen the network lie time and time again, provide cover, and even take major losses to subsidize predators and propagandists,” Shaunna Thomas, the co-founder and executive director of UltraViolet, said. “Only a transparent, independent investigation into Carlson, Hannity, Kurtz and Caldwell that is made public can be trusted.”

Thomas also said the lawsuit’s revelations about former host Ed Henry, who was accused of raping a then-production assistant at the network and was fired earlier this month, were “nothing short of horrifying” and an “indictment” of the “culture of abuse” at the network.

“The fact that Fox News ignored Henry’s violent and calculated sexual attacks against multiple women colleagues for years is a damning indictment that the culture of abuse, created and perpetuated by Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, continues to thrive at the network,” Thomas said. “For decades, Fox News has done little to address the culture of abuse that has been allowed thrive at the network. History shows that they will not take action against a sexual abuser unless forced to do so.”

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Jennifer Eckhart and Cathy Areu, said that Areu was a target of sexual harassment from Hannity, Carlson, Kurtz and Caldwell, while Eckhart said she was sexually assaulted by Henry.

An attorney for Henry disputed the accusations against Henry as “fictional” and said Eckhart had “initiated and completely encouraged a consensual relationship.” A Fox News spokesperson denied the sexual harassment accusations against the network’s top on-air talent and said a “comprehensive independent investigation conducted by an outside law firm, including interviews with numerous eyewitnesses” determined that 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,” the spokesperson said. “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.”

But Douglas Wigdor and Michael Willemin, attorneys for Eckhart and Areu, said that an investigator never spoke with their clients, who offered to meet with him “under reasonable conditions,” and that the investigator was paid for by Fox News. Like Thomas, the two women’s attorneys also said there needed to be an independent investigation with results made public.

A Fox News spokesperson later disputed this account, telling TheWrap in a statement that the investigators “immediately requested in writing the opportunity to speak directly with each plaintiff with their attorneys present, and for the plaintiffs to provide them with any evidence (i.e., texts or emails) supporting their claims.”

“The Wigdor Firm declined, informing the investigators that neither plaintiff would be allowed to be interviewed, unless the investigators promised that anything either plaintiff said could not be used in any future litigation or proceeding,” the spokesperson said. “Because that condition is unreasonable, as evidence cannot be suppressed or hidden in this manner in litigation, our investigators were not given access to speak to either plaintiff. In addition, the Wigdor Firm declined to provide the investigators with any of the emails, texts or other evidence they requested.”