For the last couple of months, 21st Century Fox has used the now infamous Donald Trump Access Hollywood tape for company held seminars in order to give Fox staffers an example of what bad behavior in the workplace could be. This fact has been very awkward this week, as President Trump made a defense of one of Fox’s biggest stars, Bill O’Reilly, who is facing his own scandal for allegations of harassment.
These seminars are a series of workshops for various divisions at Fox, with the most recent one given last Tuesday at the studio lot in Los Angeles. These workshops are led by an executive from human resources and have a focus on preventing discrimination, harassment as well as retaliation in the workplace.
One person (who wants to remain anonymous) tells The Hollywood Reporter that near the end of the one hour seminar Tuesday, a photo appeared on the big-screen (these seminars are given inside a movie theatre on the lot) featuring President Trump, Billy Bush and actress Arianne Zucker from the 2005 Access Hollywood tape. Just prior to meeting Zucker, Trump bragged to Bush about grabbing women “by the pussy” and in reference to Zucker, said, “I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start kissing them.”
During a 5 minute portion of the presentation, says the employee. “There was an audible gasp in the room, like, ‘Can you believe this is happening?’. Trump was defended by Fox News after the tape came out…..Someone joked about getting fired for harassment and wondering if the defense could be, ‘We were only told a behavior was bad once in a seminar, but Fox News said it was ‘just locker room talk’ over and over again.” Several Fox News personalities, such as Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro defended Trump when the tape was released. And CEO Fox News’ Roger Ailes was forced to resign last summer when the allegations by anchor Gretchen Carlson and others he engaged in a pattern of harassment in the workplace.
The presentation Tuesday fell flat for another reason: O’Reilly who is the highest-rated For News show host, has been battling claims of sexual harassment in a New York Times story Saturday that reportedly the network has paid around $13 million to settle claims by at least 5 female employees. The source also said an executive from human resources remarked during the presentation that the HR department handled all of Fox except Fox News, so the presentation could not include any information on O’Reilly or Ailes. The employee notes, “It was a joke…but it did not play well in the room.”
A spokesperson for Fox refused to comment on the harassment presentation or the use of Trump’s inclusion in it.
On Wednesday, President Trump told the Times he supports O’Reilly in the wake of the harassment report and that O’Reilly shouldn’t have settled the claims. “I think he’s a person I know well – he is good person,” Trump said of The O’Reilly Factor host. “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”
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