The latest Fox News sex scandal hit Eric Bolling, co-host of “The Specialists” and former host of “The Five.” Temporarily suspended from the network, Bolling has vowed to clear his name.
Here are five things to know about the scandal.
1. The allegations.
The story broke on Friday, when HuffPost’s Yashar Ali published a story citing no fewer than 14 unnamed sources who confirmed that Bolling had sent an unsolicited photo of male genitalia via text message to at least two colleagues at Fox Business and one colleague at Fox News.
Ali reported that the women who received the photo confirmed its contents to HuffPost. The women, Bolling’s current and former colleagues, recognized his number from the text messages, as they had his phone number from previous work-related and informal interactions. The messages were sent years ago, on separate occasions.
The women considered these messages, which they had not asked for, to be “deeply upsetting and offensive,” Ali reported. One recipient said she replied to Bolling’s text, telling him never to send her such photos again, and he did not respond. Four people, outside of the recipients, confirmed that they had seen the photo, and eight others said the recipients had spoken to them about it.
The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity either because the currently work at Fox News or Fox Business, or because they have confidentiality agreements with Fox News and its parent company 21st Century Fox.
“We were just informed of this and plan to investigate the matter,” a Fox spokesperson told HuffPost on Friday.
HuffPost also reached out to Bolling’s attorney, Michael J. Bowe. “Mr. Bolling recalls no such inappropriate communications, does not believe he sent any such communications, and will vigorously pursue his legal remedies for any false and defamatory accusations that are made,” Bowe declared.
2. Bolling’s spats with Anthony Weiner.
Perhaps the most ironic part of this story is the history between Bolling and disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who was caught doing essentially the same thing — sending photos of his private parts to women.
When Weiner was considering a run for mayor of New York City, Bolling had Katie Pavlich and Michelle Fields on his show mocking Weiner in July 2013. He asked the ladies to rank three Democrats who resigned due to sex scandals: Weiner, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, and former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.
In September 2014, Weiner and Bolling had a Twitter feud, hilariously dramatized by Dana Loesch and Steven Crowder. In that feud, Bolling called Weiner irrelevant, suggested he appear on “Dr. Phil,” and hit the former congressman with this: “Dude..you lost your fight.. do me a favor before we go, … text us if you want a fair & balanced intv **NO SELFIES PLEASE**”
In May of this year, when Weiner pleaded guilty to sending explicit text messages to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina and had to register as a sex offender, Bolling called him “a sick human being.”
“To continue to do this time and time again, continue to get caught, saying he’s not going to do it again, gets caught again,” Bolling said. He called Weiner’s behavior “pathological.”
It would be truly sad and ironic if Bolling is guilty of sexual conduct uncannily similar to Weiner’s sexting scandals. Even so, the allegations against Bolling are nothing compared to the long, drawn-out sexting scandals involving Weiner. But if they end up being true, there could be more where they came from…
3. The Fox suspension.
Fox News Channel suspended Bolling on Saturday amid an investigation, Variety reported.
“Eric Bolling has been suspended pending the results of an investigation, which is currently underway,” the network announced in a statement. Bolling had been a longtime co-host of “The Five,” and recently launched the late afternoon show “The Fox News Specialists.” He also anchored the Fox News program “Cashin’ In.”
Fox Business replaced an episode of “Cashin’ In” that was pre-taped. They pulled the Bolling broadcast after allegations against him surfaced. Both Fox News and Fox Business expect to use rotating substitute hosts in Bolling’s place.
The Fox network has become quite experienced in dealing with sex scandals. Last year, Roger Ailes was accused of sexual harassment by former anchor Gretchen Carlson, and he was later ousted, despite denying the allegations. Ailes died earlier this year. Similarly, Bill O’Reilly left the network in April after allegations that he had settled lawsuits involving sexual harassment allegations. Co-president Bill Shine, who had been accused in lawsuits of not taking sexual harassment accusations seriously, left the network in May.
“Over most of last year, we had six of the top eight management positions turn over, and three of the four primetime people left,” Fox CEO Jack Abernethy told Variety in July. “Some of that has been planned, but most of that has been unplanned. We’ve had big shifts.”
“We have been tasked with putting in new people and training people and sending a signal that there’s a new environment.”
4. Bolling’s response.
On Monday morning, Bolling announced his intention to defeat the allegations against him. “Overwhelmed by all the support I have received. Thank you I look forward to clearing my name asap,” Bolling said in a Twitter message.
Overwhelmed by all the support I have received. Thank you
I look forward to clearing my name asap
— 🇺🇸 ERIC BOLLING 🇺🇸 (@ericbolling) August 7, 2017
After Bolling’s suspension on Saturday, his attorney Michael Bowe attacked the allegations. “The anonymous, uncorroborated claims are untrue and terribly unfair,” Bowe told CNNMoney. “We intend to fully cooperate with the investigation so that it can be concluded and Eric can return to work as quickly as possible.”
Bolling is not the only Fox personality to announce his intention to combat sex scandal allegations. While Bill O’Reilly could not prevent his ouster from Fox, even after President Donald Trump defended him, he did leave the network with a sizable severance. Sean Hannity is still on at Fox, despite sexual assault allegations from Debbie Schlussel.
It is hard to predict how this scandal will play out, but Bolling does indeed have a chance to keep his job.
5. Michelle Fields implicated.
After the HuffPost story broke, rumors sprung up that the accuser was none other than Michelle Fields, the former Breitbart (and PJ Media) reporter who became famous for accusing Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, of assaulting her. Bolling has been an outspoken defender of Trump, and last March he reportedly kicked her off his show “Cashin’ In.”
So rumors flew that the unnamed accuser in this sex scandal was none other than Fields.
— Kambree (@KamVTV) August 5, 2017
The rumors seemed fairly popular, and presented a way for Bolling supporters to deny the truth of the accusations.
But on Twitter Saturday, Fields emphatically shot down these rumors.
“False. I’m not one of the women in Yashar’s story & Eric Bolling was nothing but professional when I worked with him. Please stop spreading lies,” Fields tweeted.
— Michelle Fields (@MichelleFields) August 6, 2017
Whoever the accusers actually were, there is a great deal more to this story than has yet been reported. Bolling may well clear his name, and as of yet none of the accusers have been named.