In an interview with the LawNewz Network, former Fox News contributor Tamara Holder talked to us about the harassment she says she endured at the hands of a Fox News executive, Francisco Cortes, who was later fired by the network. Tamara has since settled with Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, for more than $2.5 million. She had been a Fox contributor for years, and a large portion of her appearances were on Sean Hannity’s show. The interview was timely, as on Friday one of Hannity’s former guests, Debbie Schlussel, made some serious allegations against Hannity himself. Schlussel claimed that Hannity had once invited her to his hotel, and when she rebuffed her advances she was ostracized by the network. Monday morning in an interview, however, Schlussel told LawNewz that she would “never accuse” Hannity of sexual harassment.
Holder, who has been on Hannity’s show scores of times and considers him a friend, said “I personally know Sean Hannity. Sean Hannity is a really really good man, probably one of the best men I’ve known in my life. He’d been a mentor to me. I have exchanged thousands of text messages and emails with him over the course of 8 years. Not at any point has he even suggested anything inappropriate.”
She further explained that if Hannity did invite Schlussel back to his hotel, Schlussel misinterpreted it. “When he says come to the hotel with me, that’s not come to the hotel room and get naked and let’s do something inappropriate.”
She agreed, however, that allegations would make it harder for other women to come forward. It makes things more confusing.
The EEOC defines it as “verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature….it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.” This definitions doesn’t give men or women much guidance. Where is the line between teasing, flirting, and harassment?
The best way to find that line may be to talk about it. Most women do not report sexual harassment. In fact, statistics show that only ¼ to ⅓ of women report such behavior to a supervisor, and only 2-13% file complaints. If sunshine truly is the best disinfectant, it is time to shine the light on sexual harassment. That may be the silver lining in the cloud of the allegations against Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly and Fox News. The sun is shining on the broader issue of sexual harassment in America.