Fox News, dogged by years of sexual harassment claims, has named Suzanne Scott its first female CEO despite accusations she contributed to a toxic workplace for women at the cable network.
Scott, a 22-year Fox News veteran who had been president of programming, will lead Fox News and Fox Business Network, the network said on Thursday. She will report to 21st Century Fox Chairman Lachlan Murdoch and his father, Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch, who took over Fox News after former CEO Roger Ailes was forced out in a 2016 sexual harassment scandal.
“Suzanne has been instrumental in the success of FOX News and she has now made history as its first female CEO,” Lachlan Murdoch said in a statement. “Her vision and innovation have helped create some of the most popular and lucrative primetime programs on cable and as we embark on the era of the proposed New Fox, I am confident that Suzanne’s leadership will ensure the dominance of both FOX News & FBN for years to come.”
Scott has risen through the ranks at Fox, holding programming, production and creative positions after starting as a programming assistant in 1996.
She’s been accused of helping enforce Ailes’ miniskirt dress code for women ― a claim that she denied to HuffPost last year. She also was named in at least two sexual harassment complaints.
A Fox News spokesperson, asked Thursday about the past allegations, repeated Scott’s denial of wrongdoing.
A lawsuit filed by Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky accuses Scott of encouraging others to gang up on former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson in retaliation for Carson’s complaint of sexual harassment and retaliation against Ailes.
Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros named Scott as a defendant in a lawsuit that accused the network of operating “like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny.”
Scott was promoted to president of programming in May 2017 by Rupert Murdoch after co-president Bill Shine resigned amid accusations he ignored sexual harassment complaints. Nancy Erika Smith, a lawyer who represented Carlson at the time, celebrated Shine’s departure and called for Scott’s ouster as well.
Scott was quoted in Fox News’ announcement of her promotion as saying she was “incredibly honored and humbled.”
Amid the network’s sexual harassment fallout, which includes allegations against now-former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, as well as allegations against Ailes by former Fox anchor Megyn Kelly, the network says it has made strides to improve its workplace.
Those have included Scott announcing a programming leadership team in June that was composed mostly of women. In January, the network released photos of its updated newsroom that has glass walls and bright lights that increase workspace transparency.
This article has been updated to include a Fox News spokesperson’s comment and details on Fox News workplace changes.